HAZELWOOD – The strategy for the Summer Outreach for Hazelwood Baptist Church included both international and community missions. Internationally, the congregation sent a group to El Salvador and the community was served with Bible Clubs in two multi-housing complexes.
“We began to plan to disciple our youth through ministry,” Jim Walker, lead pastor, said. “We wanted to offer a summer internship for the summer through the Missouri Baptist Convention and to raise up our youth with more responsibility.”
The Bible Club was planned for everyday for five weeks at one of the apartment complexes. “We offered an intense ministry opportunity for the youth to lead the Bible Clubs under the direction of our MBC summer intern, MacKenzie (Hamberg),” he continued. “They taught Bible stories, led songs and directed crafts for the children.”
The Bible Club was so successful that the manager at a sister apartment complex asked the church to conduct a Bible Club at their location. “We arranged to do the second Bible Club three days a week,” Walker said. “We are really excited that we were given a townhome use for the ministry and we are invited to continue the ministry through the year.”
One important component of the Bible Club was lunch. “The children in many of these families receive free or reduced-priced lunches at school,” Hamberg said. “We gave them lunchables, fruit cups, and chips. We gave them prepackaged food and checked on allergies.”
“The property manager of the second complex wanted the children involved in a positive experience,” Hamberg continued. “We served the lunch last and we divided into two teams on Monday, Wednesday, Friday so that we could serve both locations.”
“A diverse group of families attended both Bible Clubs,” Hamberg said. “We had Muslim, Mexican and many ethnicities in the community, and they all need the gospel.”
In addition to the Bible Clubs, Hazelwood Baptist held other events to care for the community. “We held a Block Party, and we had more than 75 attend the party,” she said. “We held a movie night too. We always shared the gospel at the events. Parents heard the gospel as well as the children.”
“Our desire is to touch people’s lives,” Walker said. “We want to see Christ at work. We had a vision to invest in our young people and give them a real ministry experience and leadership training.”
Hamberg reflected on what the summer ministry meant to her. “This experience made me more adaptable and flexible,” she said. “The urgency for the gospel grew in me. Each person I met has a story and has gone through so much more than I have. It was an intentional time to reach children and families. Now, I’m more intentional.”
The mission trip to El Salvador this summer was a continuation of Hazelwood’s mission to El Salvador and Peru.
“We go back to serve in the same areas,” Walker said. “We are in a partnership with some churches in both countries. We encourage and help out as the churches plant other churches.”
The team conducted three medical clinics and two leadership conferences in addition to the evening worship services.
“We help reach new prospects during our time in El Salvador and love on them,” Walker said.
One of the highlights for Walker on this trip was visiting a church that he had not visited for several years. “Fourteen years ago, the church was a plant,” he said. “Now, it is a thriving, dynamic church working to get another mission up and going.”
Walker said that the same mission strategy for international missions is used on the local missions. “We do international missions because it is biblical and for people to catch the mission vision. God opens our eyes and we see things differently. We can apply the same methods locally. We love on them and share the gospel.”