South Haven Baptist leaves a legacy in Georgia
Have you ever been to Dublin, Ga.? I have and just recently, too.
One of my last official acts as a North American Mission Board (NAMB)-appointed missionary was to participate in an On Missions Celebration (OMC). NAMB missionaries are required to present at two events per year. Though the events are required, I thoroughly enjoy the interaction with folks in churches that have a genuine interest in what you are doing for the Kingdom.
This trip I stayed with Shirley and Spencer Beasley, members of Pleasant Springs Baptist Church, located in the countryside near Dublin. They are very sweet folks and they live next to a pond stocked with bass, catfish and brim. Spencer and I had a great time feeding the fish. And I have to say, Miss Shirley is one of the best cooks I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Of course, my mother, wife and grandmother are the top three. It is a miracle that I did not gain 10 pounds on this trip. I very much cherished my time in Dublin and hope to return.
If you have never attended an OMC, then take it from me, they are a lot of fun. Not only do I get to talk about some of the great things that God is doing here in Missouri, I also get to brag on the folks of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC). I tell them how you are missional throughout Missouri, the USA and the world. I was surprised to find out these folks in Dublin already knew that.
Preaching is one of my greatest joys. During this OMC, I was asked to preach at four different churches. I have never done this before and it wore me slick—but I loved it. As soon as I finished my sermon at one church, there was a driver literally waiting with a car to rush me to the next church. It was great and humbling.
Two of the churches I visited were Bethlehem Baptist Church and Union Baptist Church. Union is about the size of one of our average MBC churches (100 or less) and Bethlehem is a bit larger with about 300 in attendance. Both of these churches received me warmly and fed me like it was my last meal. Fried chicken and ham, I might add.
When I travel, I typically wear something denoting I am from Missouri. This time it was my beloved Kansas City Chiefs tie. This, of course, drew a fair amount of attention from the vast number of Atlanta Falcons fans present. Incidentally, they all thanked me for trading Tony Gonzalez to them—but I digress.
When I arrived at Union Baptist, a man came up to me and asked if I was the missionary from Missouri. I said yes and he proceeded to tell me that a Baptist church from Missouri built their sanctuary. He continued, “They wouldn’t even let us pay them or pay for their hotel; they just asked that we feed them.” He told me this like it had just happened. He then clarified it happened in 1999. This pleased me, but I did not pay adequate attention because Union Baptist was not a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) church until recently, as they were Primitive Baptist. So, I assumed it was not an MBC church.
I went from Union to Bethlehem Baptist and the same thing happened. As I walked into the sanctuary, a guy approached me and asked if I was from Missouri. When I said yes, he said, “In 1999, a bunch of people from a church in Missouri showed up in a Greyhound bus and built our sanctuary.” He, too, said they would not take any money for any of their expenses and only asked the church to feed them. I then inquired of him to share the church’s name and he replied, “South Haven Baptist Church out of Springfield.” I know this church well since I grew up in Springfield. I cannot express to you how proud and humbled I was at that moment to be a part of the MBC.
I recently spoke with Neil Blankenship, the long-time coordinator for the South Haven Church Builders, and he recalled this particular trip. He shared with me, “You get more out of it than what you give; you are building a structure that people get saved in.” I don’t think it could be said any better.
Good job, South Haven! Thank you for being faithful and representing the MBC and the Lord so well. This happened in 1999 and 10 years later the folks of Bethlehem Baptist Church and Union Baptist Church in Dublin, Ga., still remember; and they are still grateful to South Haven Baptist Church. So am I. Thanks to South Haven and all of the MBC churches that send folks out on mission for Jesus. (Vince Blubaugh is director of communications and development for the Missouri Baptist Convention.)