In an age where heightened levels of self-sufficiency, self-reliance and “selfies” are the norm, selfless work can appear to be a rarity. But for two groups of Southern Baptists, the exact opposite is true.
A team of 46 volunteers recently traveled from First Baptist Church in Southern Pines, North Carolina to Timothy Baptist Church in the historical Roxbury neighborhood of Boston to assist with renovations to the nearly 100-year-old church building.
“We take an annual youth choir/youth group mission trip each summer and they wanted to go to Boston this year,” said Benny Edwards, 51, minister of music and mission team chaperone. “The youth minister and I came up in March and interviewed several sites that we thought would be possibilities for our youth to be able to make a difference, and Timothy Baptist was [it], so we had 39 youth and seven adults here working.”
For this group of Carolinians, in grades seven through 12, giving back is not only the right thing to do but a way a life; something that at an early age, they’ve found to be fulfilling and rewarding.
“We meet people who really have a need and after we’ve finished [a] project, the appreciation you see on their faces and the joy it brings them is pretty fulfilling,” said David Ivey, 18, mission team volunteer.
Timothy Baptist Church has been a community gem since its inception in 1967. Located in the historic Fort Hill section of Roxbury, the 47-year-old church occupies a building erected in the early 1900s that formerly belonged to the Trinity Lettish Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Timothy Pastor Rev. Larry Green Sr. expressed gratitude for the help from the First Baptist mission.
“We’ve been so blessed to have the mission group from Southern Pines join in with us on the work we’ve been doing,” he said. “Within their group, which is a music youth group that sings and plays bells, there are three contractors who have come to do a whole scope of things. They extended our pulpit, added new youth choir stands, stripped and shellacked our floors, removed and garnished our pews, built an altar that will be re-carpeted, converted the balcony, painted in our lower sanctuary, and scraped and sanded the baptism pool.”
Green described the work as a sort of extreme makeover for Timothy Baptist Church that came at a time when the congregation has been undergoing spiritual changes.
“We’ve been in a spiritual transformation process for some time now,” he commented. “We’ve gone through a number of inventories to identify our spiritual gifts and where we need to be in terms of being a transformational church for God. We found out that we’re very high in prayer but we’ve decided to work on worship, mission mindedness and relational intentionality.
“This work falls right in line with relational intentionality because we’re deliberately being relational and intentional about establishing relationships with people in our community, in our faith, in other states and so on.”
The Timothy Baptist congregation are no strangers to mission work themselves — their missionaries give dinners to sick and handicapped people and support a child in Africa with money for basic necessities. They sent 15 members to help out at Camp Edwards following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and most recently helped send a youth leader to Brazil to take part in mission and ministry work there.
Enthused TBC members of all ages joined the Carolinians in completing the recent renovations.
TBC members said the Southern Pines mission team couldn’t have come at a more opportune time and that long-lasting relationships were formed.
Support from other local and sister churches, friends, partners and community organizations has been fantastic, Green said, singling out Kaira Fox, Roxbury Coordinator for the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, who donated funds and supplies.
“We’ve been all over and there really is a need for mission work like this, said Edwards, the First Baptist chaperone. “For me, watching the kids grow in their faith as they use their hands physically, as they use their voices musically to make a difference in the lives of people or an institution that provides ministry opportunities for children, youth or adults in their own setting is awesome.
“And certainly we’re inspired by the work and ministry Timothy is doing here. In some ways it becomes an extension of First Baptist Church Southern Pines because we’ve had this partnership; so the lives we touch here we would never touch but our work here enables the church to touch many more lives for the kingdom.”
“It’s important for us as believers to do this kind of work because we’re showing God’s grace,” said Reid Batton, 18, mission team volunteer. “God blesses us and we’re able to give back to those who are in need of something we already have. I love it.”
Phase one of the renovations is complete, but there more renovations needed, according to Green.