By Sharon Mager, BCM/D Correspondent
NEW ORLEANS, La.—Sixteen volunteers from four BCM/D churches, Faith Church, Glen Burnie; Weems Creek, Annapolis; North Arundel Church, Glen Burnie; and First Church, Eastport, headed to New Orleans in May for their fifth annual Arundel Association (ABA) mission trip, continuing their efforts to help rebuild New Orleans from the damage it sustained during Hurricane Katrina and to share the love of Christ.
Team members partnered with Hope Church, a plant that ministers in the Jefferson Parish in the greater New Orleans area and with Grace Church, an ethnically diverse historic church in the Bywater area district.
Ministering with Hope, team members in green “Hope Church” T-shirts canvassed local neighborhoods hanging door hangers offering help with any needs and asking for prayer requests. Later they collected the responses, chose projects and headed out to minister, pulling weeds, cutting grass, doing light construction work and engaging people in conversations about Jesus and connect them with the church.
Matt Tipton, pastor of Hope Church, expressed gratitude to the mission teams and said they are vital to the ministry, adding that though Hope is one of just a small number of churches planting in the city, there is a beginning of a church plant movement. Volunteers are an integral part of that.
“The group from Maryland was flexible and hardworking,” Tipton said. He was very pleased that the ABA group included families, which provided a good mix and different opportunities for outreach. Tipton said the group helped generate good relationships with neighbors and he’s seeing the results.
“A few weeks after Easter we had a cookout in a neighborhood where the team worked. Several families they served showed up … we shared the Gospel and we see them connecting. We are seeing direct impact from the Maryland team’s work,” Tipton said.
The team also worked for its fifth year with Grace Church, an ethnically diverse historic church in the Bywater area district. Team members helped with their annual after-school club ministry. John Brittain said these were very successful, drawing about 250 people through the week. More people have been attending because locals now anticipate the team’s arrival and the fun. Brittain said they usually minister to children and he was happy this year to see whole families participate.
“We had an amazing turnout,” Brittain said. We found that grilling hot dogs drew people – all kinds of people of all ages.” Many folks played catch and football. Team members did face painting.
Warren Thomas, a member of Weems Creek Church, told Bible stories while painting pictures on an easel. Brittain said it was a great, effective, “relational delivery.”
Some team members also worked with Bethel Colony South, a rehabilitation center near New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for people with addictive disorders. Team members did roofing, siding and sheet rock work. Several women cleaned and rebuilt floors and did outreach ministry at the women’s complex.
Vernon Wanecke, a member of Weems Creek Church, said often people don’t want to associate with the men and women in the program.
John Mitchell, a member of North Arundel Church said, “I recall the one request of the colony leader, Bill, ‘All I ask is that you guys acknowledge the men and women as to their presence.’ How heartbroken it is when even the most basic of requests have to be made. The entire team not only recognized the folks, but talked, joked, worked beside and were guided by these folks.”
Mitchell said he was touched by God’s presence during the trip.
“When we arrived, we were ready to come home, when we finished, we wanted to stay,” he said.
The Association is now making plans for next year’s trip. John Brittain said he welcomes volunteers from any association, with any background. For more information, email Britain at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office, (410) 647-0507.