Beyond Our Walls
Community Service Day Saturday, September 16. When we serve together outside the walls of the church, we become the living, breathing body of Christ in our community that can affect neighbors who otherwise might never come in contact with our Savior, regardless of our great programs. I want to highlight three areas where we are currently serving out in our community.
We will meet for breakfast in the Fellowship Hall and then go out into the community to serve. Projects include:
- Children's Attention Home
- Fort Mill Care Center
- FBC Campus work teams
- Home work teams for some of our seniors
- Shut-in visitation
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 11: 18-19 (NIV)
When we serve together outside the walls of the church, we become the living, breathing body of Christ in our community that can affect neighbors who otherwise might never come in contact with our Savior, regardless of our great programs. I want to highlight three areas where we are currently serving out in our community.
Recently, one of our Adult Bible Fellowship groups stepped into service along the road. They arranged to meet at the Children’s Attention Home (one of our local partners, http://attentionhome.org/) in Rock Hill. Six couples plus two ladies, and 13 children served together. Our four- and five-year-olds picked up trash on the playground around the swings and slides. The dads joined youth for a game of basketball. Moms led crafts and bible discussions with the kids and teenage girls. We all felt a little uncomfortable wrangling our toddlers and school-age kids during the Bible study time.
They were reminded that service is not about us. All our hands and feet are needed and necessary to get His love to our neighbors. Our presence “along the road” as families who follow Christ is a part of His work. No less important in our time serving was what we learn as a community of faith. It is amazing how our view changes while we are living out Christ’s call to the church as a family outside the building.
We also have a thriving English as a Second Language (ESL) ministry here at First Baptist that is actively engaging people from around the world right here in our community. This last year we assisted 93 internationals from 20 different countries.
During the 2016-2017 academic year, our church provided the only daytime ESL program in Fort Mill. We assisted 93 internationals from 20 different countries. That seems impressive for the size of Fort Mill, but the reality is that in the 2010 Census, Fort Mill ZIP codes documented 2,892 households which listed their language preference as something other than English.
The students are not the only ones who benefit each week. Every Tuesday during the school year there are an average of 41 volunteers serving in a variety of ways. What is exciting is that these volunteers represent 19 churches in our community and beyond. Although First Baptist hosts and financially supports this Christian-based ESL program, it is the church body within the Fort Mill community that meets the many needs of the students. In return, these volunteers have been the benefits of witnessing conversions and a baptism, taken part in many cultural experiences (the food is amazing), and built friendships—deep lasting friendships that give them opportunity to demonstrate Jesus Christ on a personal level. If you would like to learn more about our ESL program, please visit http://fbcfmesl.wixsite.com/fbcfmesl/local-esl-programs.
A third area that I want to highlight here is our partnership with Fort Mill Elementary School (FMES). We have been working with FMES as reading buddy volunteers for two years. Our volunteers are assigned to different classes to give 30 min to an hour once a week to sit and read with one or more kids.
One of our volunteers said, “I worked with a kindergarten class my first year, and this year I read with first graders. I enjoy taking time out of my work week to spend some time in the elementary school. It is refreshing for me to see the children. Over time, the children I read with begin to look forward to our time together. I complement them and ask them questions about their homes and their likes and dislikes. I am always amazed by how much they remember about our conversations from week to week. It is a blessing to me to have the opportunity to praise their reading and see them improve. The teachers and staff at the school are always gracious and thankful. It is a privilege to help them and to show my appreciation for their commitment to educating our children.”
Maybe you would consider serving in one of these ways… Contact Brett Freemon if you would like more information on these opportunities or on others right here in Fort Mill.
We are planning another Community Service Day for September 16. We will meet at the church that morning for breakfast (7:30 a.m.) and go to the projects at 8:30. I will have more information in the next few weeks including sign-up sheets for specific projects.