BATESVILLE – “It’s the most Christian thing I have ever seen.”
This was the response of Batesville resident Madeline Hastings, who was having her house painted as a result of the work of students and leaders serving in the first Collision mission project July 9-13.
In all, 64 youth from Batesville-area churches and a Sherwood church worked on 11 mission outreach projects around the theme Where the Love of Christ Meets a Broken World.
“These kids are super, and these counselors (leaders) are super,” said Hastings, smiling as she watched students and leaders work on her house. “I think it is the most Christian thing I have ever seen. ... Christ didn’t just sit in an air-conditioned church. He got out and was with the people. They were where He was working and doing. … He was a carpenter by trade.”
Madeline and her husband, Donald, who have resided in Batesville for nearly 30 years – and in the house at Josephine Street for 10 years – are known simply as “Mimi and Granddaddy” by their neighbors.
Hastings said the experience has rekindled her faith and she now plans to return to church.
Chris Sims, pastor of Pilgrim’s Rest Baptist Church, Batesville, served as manager of the construction, painting and outreach projects during the week of Collision.
“The idea is organizing projects so our young people go out in groups of six to 10 and work tangibly – all kinds of projects from roofing … to surveying the (Marcella) community, trying to find out what the needs are, to see if there needs to be a new church plant there.”
Churches with students participating in addition to Pilgrim’s Rest were First Baptist Church, Sherwood; Floral Baptist Church, Floral, and Cord Baptist Church, Cord, said Sims.
“Most of the materials we worked on the front end to have donated by local businesses,” said Sims.
“W.A.R.P. 180 worked to get the shingles donated on this project, and we got local churches and everybody else to donate all the other materials. So the campers had a fee that covered some general things. Other than that, it has been pretty seamless.”
Sims added, “What we have run into is a lot of opportunity to share our faith, a lot of opportunity to pray with folks … broken world is right, lots of opportunity for that. Most of the youth that came to this camp seemed to come with a relationship with Christ and just ready to serve.”
W.A.R.P. 180 is a women’s substance recovery ministry based at Parkview Baptist Church in Batesville.
Austin Thompson, 16, of Cord Baptist, said he has enjoyed working to repair a resident’s roof.
“We are helping out people who need it the most,” said Thompson. “When we got here, the roof was caving in. … We are pretty much redoing the whole roof.
“We are doing it to show God’s love for other people, … for people who need it,” he added.
Ronnie Toon, associational missionary for the Independence Baptist Association, served as Collision camp director and coordinator, along with assistance from the staff of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC). Students and leaders participating in Collision stayed at the association camp during the week.
Toon said the partnership exhibited between the association, state convention and churches was important in bringing the Collision project together.
“It strengthens my relationship with the churches that I serve,” said Toon.
She also added that, “A lot of small, rural churches can’t do a World Changers event – they don’t have the resources or the ability to get there oftentimes. It makes it more personal and allows small churches to participate.
“(Small churches) are a large part of who we are anyway (as a convention). It gives them a seat at the table that they ordinarily might not get,” he said.
Bill Cantrell, a member of the ABSC missions ministries team who worked with Toon and area churches to organize Collision, said he was impressed with youth participating in the project.
“Youth worked hard during the day and celebrated in song and worship in the evening. Prayerfully, this mission camp experience for small church youth groups will grow and expand to other associations,” Cantrell said.
Collision was made possible in part through gifts to the Dixie Jackson Arkansas Missions Offering.