Missions Invigorates Jessup Baptist Church

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By Sharon Mager and Morgan Lewis

JESSUP, Md. — Jessup Baptist Church (JBC) has been energized by missions. The church is passionate about helping others and sharing the gospel near and far — observing Jesus’ Great Commission. At least once a year, they send teams to Costa Rica and Cambodia. They also serve regularly at the Baltimore Rescue Mission, and members participate in other missions and outreaches.

JBC Pastor Bill Jones says, “Everyone in the church is supportive. They are fully onboard — so much so that part of our budget is designated for missions.” The church has meetings specifically focused on their mission activities, and there is contagious enthusiasm that even visitors notice.

First Mission Trip Ignites the Flame
The congregation’s first taste of missions began in 2008 when a team from Woodlawn Baptist Church, South Carolina, serving in Maryland, needed a place to stay and shower. JSB graciously opened their facility. That act of kindness sparked an interest in missions as Jessup Church members enjoyed the time with the South Carolina team and were inspired by them.

Woodlawn Baptist Church then invited JSB members to join them in Halifax, North Carolina, to help a small church celebrate their 150th anniversary. A team answered that invite, saw God move, were invigorated and wanted more! Jones began researching possible opportunities.

Missions Director James Golliday (left), with a local missionary in Costa Rica doing area beautification. Golliday says, “It always amazes me how God pulls everything together each mission year. The amount of work He accomplishes through a small team in a small amount of time is nothing short of a miracle! God’s ability to use His servants to spread the gospel to those who don’t know Christ and encourage the missionaries in the faith is a testament to His omnipotence and sovereignty. Praise the Lord for the opportunity to serve on mission and fulfill the call of Acts 1:8!

Called to Costa Rica
God opened a door when church member P.J. DeLisio invited Jones on a vision trip to Costa Rica to work with YWAM and offered a free plane ticket to “seal the deal.”

“I went there and fell in love with what they were doing,” says Jones.”They had nine or ten ministries going out of one base.” Teams were building homes, assisting victims of sex trafficking, providing free dental work, and much more.

Jones returned home and shared what God was doing in the country. The church caught the vision, jumped on board and they have been sending teams each year since 2013. Chuckling, Jones says his wife, Dee, who also goes on some of the trips, kids him and says that he got bit by the “missions bug.”

JBC teams help with infrastructure at the base camp. They also visit orphanages and nursing homes. In 2023, they installed 2296 feet of fiber optic cable. 

“A special part of the mission is getting to know the missionaries on the base — to hear their stories and aspirations in mission work, pray with them, support them, and see God work,” shares Bill.

Church member Justin Fahey also spoke of the encouragement from working with missionaries.“When we go to Costa Rica, we get to see and be with people who devoted their lives to that mission, a lot of the time relying on God to get them through week to week. It’s humbling because what we regularly take for granted is a small miracle to them.”

DeLisio said, “What God has shown me in serving in missions is that being missional isn’t just the outward profession and promulgation of the gospel to the lost. God has expanded my mindset to the necessity of serving those who serve.”

A Personal Invitation to Cambodia
The church added another mission’s emphasis in 2014 when Bill and Dee‘s daughter, Avrielle, participated in a Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) mission trip to Cambodia. After returning home, she pleaded with her family to join her and return to the country, and they did in 2017.

Jessup mission team members install fiber cable. (Photo courtesy of Jessup Baptist Church)

The family was introduced to a group of individuals running New Hope School, founded in 2012 by Sarith Outh, a Christian man with a heart for children and a vision to spread the gospel. This school, located in a heavily Buddhist area, became the focal point of the church’s mission work in the country.

Bill was enthusiastic about what was happening in the school, and the church included Cambodia in its mission plans.

JBC supported the construction of new classrooms, the refurbishment of older ones, and the purchase of whiteboards and other supplies. They also started a food program after a young girl fainted in front of Bill. He explains, ”I was talking to a group of students, and one girl literally fell over. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I spoke to the principal and found out she hadn’t eaten in three days. It crushed me!” Bill initiated the food program the same day, and this young girl was the first student they helped. Twenty-six children are now receiving assistance, supported by outside donations. The church also began a scholarship program.

Wherever they serve, the church’s mission teams go beyond providing physical necessities; They share the gospel. During their time in Cambodia, Bill has baptized multiple individuals, one time 16 children, and most recently, in October 2023, 18 children and one teacher. “I had about four or five additional students that wanted to get baptized,” Bill shares, “but their parents didn’t allow it.” The majority of families are Buddhist.

The Jessup Baptist Church Cambodia team worked extensively with New Hope School. JBC members are pleased to see God blessing the school. Bill says, “When we started helping, there were about 100 students. Now they’re approaching 400.” (Photo courtesy of Jessup Baptist Church)

Bill says children are sometimes “cut off” from their families if they become Christians. He explains that while they can live in their homes, they are no longer considered a part of the family. He saw this firsthand while making rounds to give in-person school progress reports to the family of one little girl who had made a profession of faith. The adults refused to talk with the school representatives. They said, “Because you are a Christian, our grandmother died, and we don’t want you in the house because we are afraid others will die.”

“The Cambodian culture is amazing,” Bill reflects. “They are some of the kindest people I’ve encountered.” Yet, amidst the beauty of the culture, Bill acknowledges the difficulties, including the limitation of resources and the oppressive heat, 106-107 degrees, without air conditioning, at the beginning of May. Despite the challenges, Bill remains committed to mentoring and loving the children and providing support and guidance as they navigate their faith.

Jessup Baptist Church praises God for multiple baptisms. This one was in a pool as a storm was ready to roll in. Bill Jones said, “The heat is just so challenging,” he admits, “but regardless of how hot it is, it’s worth every minute spent there” (Photo courtesy of Jessup Baptist Church).

Closer to Home
Regarding local missions, Jessup Church has ministered at the Baltimore Rescue Mission once a month for 18 years with Deacon Josh Griffin or Pastor Bill preaching.

Bill has also participated for a decade with BCM’s annual “Beach Reach,” where Christian students share the gospel with other college students on spring break in Florida. A bi-vocational pastor, Bill also teaches at Elevation Christian Academy, a ministry of Elvaton Baptist Church, Millersville and sees that as another mission field. He took several students to help at Heritage Baptist Church, Tennessee, where his son Zack and his family attend. The small team helped with a huge regional food pantry and a SMILE Foster Closet, providing clothing and backpacks to children being removed from their homes to be placed in foster care.

Invitation to Participate
JBC has welcomed other churches to join them on mission trips, and many have, including Elvaton Baptist Church, Life Connections Church, Severn, and Hope Baptist Church of Laurel. Jones invites anyone who would like to join the church on mission to contact him. He wants to provide an opportunity for others to do hands-on missions and learn how to organize a trip.“ My hope for both the Costa Rica and Cambodia trips is that participants will see how easy it is and that they’ll go back and start doing missions on their own.

Members of a Jessup Baptist Church mission team prepare food for a ladies group in Costa Rica. (Photo courtesy of Jessup Baptist Church)

Lisa Fahey, who has participated in the Cambodia and Costa Rica trips, says, “I go to bless, and I always leave (being) the one blessed. I have been given joy at times and humbled. Never doubt what God can do with a willing heart. Go and Grow, as my pastor says!”

Young students pray at New Hope School in Cambodia. (Photo courtesy of Jessup Baptist Church)

The team will leave for Cambodia on May 24 and again in January 2025. The annual Costa Rica trip is in August. Teams generally range from 10-12 people, from teens to those in their late 60’s.

For more information, contact Pastor Bill Jones at [email protected] or [email protected] or call 443-254-1450.