By Laura McMillan
In an effort to spread happiness in a world where they hear too much bad news, 53 people from Columbia, S.C., are sharing the love they have with Jonesboro citizens.
Seeing the gleaming eyes of children in the Keystone Apartment complex as she passes out balloon animals after a successful Bible study, 18-year-old Phyllis Goins knows that the message she is sharing about God is being well received. Goins is a senior who has participated in the St. Andrews Baptist Church summer mission trips for the past three years. Although this is her first visit to Jonesboro, Goins is well prepared for the type of mission they do in small communities because of two previous trips to Jacksonville, Florida.
Ministering to children who may not have heard a message about God is the main goal of St. Andrews Baptist Church of Columbia
mission trip, but ministry construction is another focal point of the trip that consumes the mornings of several of the students.
Six teenage friends were not just rolling out of bed at 11:30 Tuesday morning. Instead they were already hard at work at 10:30 digging and climbing and scraping around a house they had never seen before coming to Jonesboro the early part of this week.
Brandon Holmes, 18, has gone to mission with his church since the summer after seventh grade. Holmes sees his mission trips as a form of worship he takes seriously and enjoys. "It's not just giving back to the community," said Holmes, "it's giving back to God."
The St. Andrews Baptist Church makes these mission trips a privilege for youths from the seventh grade though the twelfth grade. As a member of the youth group who just graduated high school this year, Brandon Holmes is taking his last youth mission trip to Jonesboro.
Holmes' ambition is not thwarted by graduating from the youth group. He is considering chaperoning future youth mission trips to continue taking advantage of this outlet for his worship. If Holmes carried through with his plan to stay involved, he will follow in the footsteps of his sister, Emily and his mother, Lynn who are both in Jonesboro serving as chaperones for the kids.
The youths are responsible for planning and preparing the Back Yard Bible Club which includes the Bible study, games, and crafts that they are offering to the children of the Keystone Apartment complex. Adults are not the organizers, but are instead only resources for the children, according to chaperone, Sharon King.
For this particular trip students have planned concerts and parties in addition to construction and mission that will help get their message out to the community. Fred DeFloor, who works at the St. Andrews Baptist Church as the minister of music, assisted the youth with one concert they performed at the Gardens at Lake Spivey at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. Another performance of the youth choir musical will be held Wednesday night at 6:30 at the First Baptist Church of Jonesboro recreation center.
The youth of the First Baptist Church in Jonesboro planned a pool party Tuesday night for the students of the South Carolina mission trip as a means of thanking them for their hard work.
Roger Allen is the middle school youth minister and the Jonesboro contact for the visiting church helping in the pool party plans. Allen sees this mission trip as an opportunity for the teens of both churches to learn and grow. "Rather than being served, they are learning to serve," Allen said.
Finally on Thursday night, a celebratory cookout will be held at the Keystone apartment complex. Todd Nelson, who is the youth minister for St. Andrews Baptist Church, invites the entire community to enjoy the food, games, and fellowship.
When the visiting church members leave Jonesboro this Friday, the community may still look forward to more missionary interaction beginning again on June 18 when the North American Mission Board brings the roughly 200 kids of World Changers to the welcoming doorstep of the First Baptist Church of Jonesboro.