Arkansas Baptist News
HARRISON – “I’m excited!” said Lucille Lovell Curnutte as she introduced herself to the group with whom she would be serving during the Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip – Harrison, held Oct. 5.
“It’s the first time I’ve had the opportunity to go to one of the big mission trips,” she said, explaining about 20 people from her church in Missouri had come for the annual event as a result of a man in their church who had recently moved from Arkansas.
But along with it being her first mission trip, a second thing stands out about Curnutte – she is 90 years old.
She and a group of others served through prayer at the church.
“They called us prayer warriors, and I had never been in on a group like that,” she said. “It was very enlightening, and it really meant a lot. I mean, it’s something I’ll carry with me as long as I’ve got my mind.”
She hopes hearing the stories and seeing the photos from the trip will inspire her fellow church members to be involved in missions.
In fact, Robert Hanners, who along with his wife was leading the Missouri church’s mission team, commented that one of their other participants is already planning a block party as a result of the Harrison trip.
Their stories are just some of many from that day of ministry.
More than 2,700 volunteers took part in the Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip sponsored by the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) and North Arkansas Baptist Association. Participants represented 207 churches and came from five states besides Arkansas. This year, they spread out to minister across the Harrison area, which is served by North Arkansas Baptist Association.
For a number of those participating – like Curnutte – it was their first mission trip experience.
One such person was 91-year-old Averil Davis, who has been a member of First Baptist Church, Harrison, for 72 years.
“It’s an advantage to see so many of the Baptist faith,” she said. “This is just wonderful to see so many Baptists.”
And Marie Mayes, of Northvale Baptist Church, Harrison, was also on her first mission trip.
“So many people are interested in winning souls – that’s what I like,” she said. “I’m just thankful that people are interested in doing God’s work. … That’s why I’m here.”
The three first-time “missionaries” were part of the prayer warrior team led by Ella Faye Widner, member of Bear Creek Springs Baptist Church, Harrison.
“I don’t really believe we know the power of prayer,” said Widner, referencing how God answered Asa’s prayer in 2 Chronicles.
“We just need to all get busy and serve the Lord,” she said. “I mean I really do believe our time is short and we need to reach as many people for the Lord as we can.”
But the one-day missions experience was not just for adults. While Curnutte, Davis, Mayes and Widner were serving as prayer warriors at the church, Carolyn Rook and her 5-year-old son, Bradley, were prayer walking the streets of Harrison in the pouring rain.
“I know there’s hurting people in my town, and I just wanted to do anything I could to help and something that could involve my son, too,” Rook simply said.
And praying was only one aspect of the ministry that took place Oct. 5. Despite the rain, participants volunteered at a number of ministry sites, serving through construction work, a children’s fishing derby, cowboy ministries, sports camps, children’s ministry, hunger-relief ministry, jail ministry, block parties and medical missions.
Through these sites, they were able to meet the needs of community members such as Doreen Jones.
Jones had read about the medical clinic in the newspaper and had been planning to come for two weeks. Through the services offered by mission trip volunteers, Jones said she got her flu shot and had her eyes checked and teeth cleaned.
“It feels great because, with my insurance, I don’t have insurance to cover for dental and vision and all that stuff, so kind of like, moneywise, I couldn’t afford it otherwise,” Jones told the Arkansas Baptist News.
Volunteers also took part in senior adult ministry, and the senior adult choir from Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, who were in the area already, sang at several nursing homes.
In addition, community members were offered a free lunch, and through this, more than 5,000 people were fed. In addition, five vanloads of food, all brought by participants, were delivered to hunger sites and the Arkansas Baptist Boys Ranch.
By the end of the day, the one-day volunteers had seen 36 people accept Christ, six of whom were inmates. In addition, all the women in the jail visited by volunteers rededicated their lives.
“Yes, it was a ‘God day’ in Harrison – a day that none of us could have done ourselves,” said Breck Freeman, ABSC missions ministries team member and Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip coordinator. “It was wet, and the weather did not stop any activities. We prayed in the rain, we fished in the rain, we shared in the rain we played in the rain, and we moved block parties, children’s sites and sports camps inside church gyms across the area.”
The event not only blessed community members, it also helped light a fire in the hearts of volunteers. They are taking it back to their own churches, associations and even states.
Tracy Archibald, pastor of Unity Baptist Church, Paragould, shared how the Acts 1:8 event can impact a church. His church first got involved in the Pine Bluff Acts 1:8 project in 2010, never having done much mission work as a church prior to that. The 2010 project spurred their church on, and they bought a block party trailer and began doing block party ministry. They have since grown from an attendance of about 60 to an attendance of about 200. And they take missions teams around the nation and internationally.
Archibald will become the Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip coordinator in 2014, working with Freeman, community missions strategist for the ABSC. Archibald previously served as block party coordinator for the ABSC.
“We’d love to see more missionaries, and within that, we’ll be taking on more projects and reaching lost for Christ – that’s our biggest thing,” he said about his hopes for the future of the one-day missions event. “Our overall goal is evangelism – that we do something for the kingdom of Christ.”
Ken Patterson, deacon at Ridgewood Baptist Church, Forrest City, knows how the Acts 1:8 missions event can inspire a church. He said his church had not previously been involved in the one-day missions event until it came to their area last year. And it inspired them to continue to be involved again this year.
“We got excited about it,” Patterson said. “I mean we saw what results happened there and the change it made in so many lives – not only just in the community, but in our church. It got us excited about missions.”
In fact, his church took the idea of a one-day mission trip to the small town of LaHarpe, Kan. And a church planting couple, along with one other person, from LaHarpe Baptist Mission decided to come to Harrison for Arkansas’ one-day mission trip.
Freeman said he is in contact with the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists, helping them become more involved in Acts 1:8 mission trips.
Royce Sweatman, associational missionary for North Arkansas Baptist Association, said his office has been “inundated” with people telling stories of how God worked and how their churches are already planning to start their own Acts 1:8 events.
“I’m hearing story after story, and it has just been thrilling to see what it’s done in our association and how our people have responded,” he said.
He said he strategically planned a senior adult event to take place prior to the one-day mission trip and a crusade to take place directly after the trip – with hopes of passing out fliers for the crusade.
Sweatman is less than a year from retirement, so he wanted to end well and for the one-day missions trip to reflect his heart and encourage others to do what Christ said – take the gospel to the world, beginning at home and stretching outward.
“The biggest problem we have today is not that we need to get people to church, but we need to get the church to the people,” he said. “And Acts 1:8 is a tool where we can get the church to leave the building and get out among the people. … And with 2,767 people signing up, we really did it with a bang.”
The 2014 Acts 1:8 One Day Mission Trip is scheduled for Oct. 4 in El Dorado. For more information, contact 501-376-4791, ext. 5150, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Jessica Vanderpool at email@example.com.