SPRINGFIELD – In what they’ve called a mission trip without airfare, 350 volunteers from Crossway Baptist Church here reached out to their neighbors, April 3-5, proclaiming the gospel while doing 28 service projects throughout Greene County.
“Our churches do a really good job of serving the people who are here,” Paul Sheaffer, minister of discipleship and missions at Crossway Baptist Church, said. “But we just felt like there’s a whole different world of folks that are living here in our community that we aren’t touching and serving.
“I think there’s this idea out there that churches exist to take something from people,” Sheaffer added. “Really and truly, churches don’t exist to take. We exist to give away … to show and share the love of Christ.”
Through the church’s initiative, called “Crossway Cares,” the church engaged the community in dozens of ways to show people the love of Christ.
Volunteers took dinner to Delaware Firehouse Station #4, painted and did maintenance for the Robberson and Watkins Elementary schools, opened a free laundromat and carwash, and provided free oil changes for single moms and free haircuts for children. They also organized a block party at the John B. Hughes Apartment Complex – complete with games, inflatables and free food.
Additionally, 12 teams from Crossway cleaned yards, fixed porches and fences and planted new landscapes for residents in Springfield. Five construction crews also repaired and remodeled homes for families with health issues.
Other members organized prayer walks, distributed Bibles and shared their testimonies with people.
Then, during a celebration service on April 6, the church provided a free meal for people from the community and set up inflatables for their children. At the celebration Bryan Livingston, the children’s director at Crossway, presented $1,000 checks to the Watkins and Robberson Elementary Schools on behalf of the church. Livingston formerly taught at Robberson Elementary.
“We’ve got a great relationship with Crossway,” Kevin Huffman, principal at Robberson Elementary, said. He noted that, as Crossway members served at the school, “they did a very professional job, and they did it with a happy heart.
“They were a blessing to our school,” he added. “When you see God’s hand extended through a church to a local school, it is just a great partnership. … They showed God’s love through their actions.”
According to Sheaffer, the investment that Crossway members made through their projects positively impacted the community and drew a record crowd to the church’s service on Easter Sunday.
“We had a very positive response from the community – not only from the homes that we helped, but from their neighbors as well,” Sheaffer said. At the end of April, the church was still following up with people in the community who wanted to learn more about the gospel and about Crossway.
Sheaffer said that any church, whether big or small, can share the love of Christ by organizing service projects in their communities. The key is to provide a variety of ministry projects based on the skills and connections that church members already have.
“Be creative,” Sheaffer added.
It may be that individuals and groups from the community are eager for Missouri Baptist churches to reach out and serve. They may resonate with what one elderly lady from the community told Sheaffer: “I have been waiting for somebody from your church to come my way.”