Braymer church overcomes adversity to minister
Congregation has burden for Arizona
BRAYMER—First Baptist Church, Braymer, recently took a mission trip that included 57 missionaries going to Arizona out of an average worship attendance of 110 on Sunday morning. Three teams worked three different sites, along with a kitchen team that prepared three meals a day.
Two teams were construction units that worked on churches on the Navajo Indian reservation. One of those teams dry-walled a new nursery and toddler room for a church in Chinle, Ariz.; the other team replaced a floor, put down new carpet and built a new covered front porch entryway for a church in Pinon, Ariz.
The third team was a Vacation Bible School unit that worked with First Baptist Church, Many Farms, Ariz. They saw close to 30 or more children every day, some of whom had never heard the name of Jesus before.
“The trip was unlike any I have ever been on before,” said First Braymer Pastor Eric Turner.
The Missouri short-term missionaries stayed at Many Farms Inn where they encountered unfit water to drink, partial air conditioning, various unidentifiable smells coming through the air vents, and wild dogs that needed to be run off every time the kitchen crew began to cook anything.
“Much of the time driving to the sites was spent watching out for cattle, horses, or even sheep as the area we were in was open range,” Turner said. “Our evenings were spent resting and in devotion and worship together. One evening everyone traveled to Canyon de Chelly where we held worship on the rim of a 700-foot canyon as the sun was setting.”
The Navajo matriarch of the church in Pinon, “Grandma Betty,” was pleased with the work.
“Because of the entryway we built, she can now enter the church through the front door for the first time ever,” Turner said. “She just sat in tears for the longest time as she saw the new carpet and floor of the church. As we left, she prayed for us in Navajo. No one understood what she said, but clearly she was praising God as we heard her call on the name of Jesus several times. There was not a dry eye in the place when she was done.”
The trip home to Missouri featured two flat tires the first day and much sickness. The church’s youth minister was rushed to the emergency room with a cluster migraine headache; he ended up having a spinal tap. The next day, about 18 team members began getting sick, throwing up. Two were hospitalized due to dehydration. The cause of the sickness is unknown.
Turner was hospitalized in Missouri with stroke-like symptoms. The left side of his body was numb and he had trouble speaking simple sentences. Tests came back negative and he was able to return home.
The perseverance found in 2 Cor. 4:17-18 has been an encouragement to the pastor.
“I am confident that the Lord did an amazing work through our team in Arizona and I am confident that it will continue to bear fruit in the lives of the Navajo people,” he said. “This was truly a special team that God brought together. Jim, our guide to the reservation and co-worker who has been going for five years, said it best: ‘Normally, when teams are first put together to come out here, the numbers decrease the closer it gets to going (due to the nature of the work and the harsh conditions). Yours is the first church I have ever worked with where the numbers increased the closer it got to going on the field. That tells me that God is up to something big.’”
Turner said the next mission trip should really be something.
“I am excited to see what God has for us to do next,” he said. “The difficulties and adversities have strengthened our church and taught us to rely on one another. Working shoulder to shoulder has taught us to be patient and to love one another more. And most of all, the time we spent laboring for the Gospel taught us that God is up to something huge, even in a dry and deserted place that many have forgotten about.”