DES MOINES, Iowa – A northeast Missouri WMU group has reached the hand of Christian service across the state line.
For at least 19 years, the Mt. Salem-Wyaconda Southern Baptist Association WMU and volunteers have made twice-yearly visits to the Baptist Friendship Center in Des Moines, Iowa. The most recent trip was September 1.
“We go once in the spring and once in the fall. We try to go before the kids get back to school in the fall, or around that time,” said Connie Handyside, WMU director for the Association.
Baptist Friendship Center depends on volunteer labor like the WMU group and some who come regularly from nearby Drake University. The Mt. Salem-Wyaconda group brings up to 15 volunteers, and recent trips have included men joining the group to help with electrical and plumbing needs.
“We do cleaning, working in the yard cleaning flowers and mowing. We also bring personal hygiene products too,” Handyside said. “The ones who run the Center, John and Mindy Jameson, tell us what to do and we spread out like cockroaches and get the work done.”
The Center distributes the donated items, they work with the young after school. There is a preaching service, a computer lab, and a food ministry. They also feed some of the people in the area, and one party makes lots of pancakes and freezes them. They also make sure children have a Christmas gift. A former clothing ministry has been discontinued.
“They are reaching the young people, the elderly, and the transient. It’s amazing what they do with their resources,” Handyside said. “It’s a wonderful work they do. There have been salvations, rededications, and people who are improving their life.”
The Mt. Salem-Wyaconda WMU got started in the idea when former Association WMU Director Amy Davis felt God put it on her heart to help them after they saw a back pack ministry they did at Windermere. Handyside felt the same way, and the two got the WMU involved.
The ministry of the Baptist Friendship Center has shifted as the culture has. There is a growing multi-culture presence. Handyside said the Jameson’s preteen daughter is learning Spanish just by talking to the people.
The Center was formerly supported in part by the Iowa Baptist Convention, but Handyside said more and more, the center depends on volunteers and financial donations from individuals and churches.
The financial donations are set up through a third party trained financial professional.
The shift in the culture is not without risks.
“There is some danger now. There are gangs there. We have to get out before evenings come.
“That’s Satan,” Handyside said. “He’s evil and will do all he can to thwart God’s word. But these people (the Jameson’s) are pointing people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.”