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Ladies, step right up for ministry; Georgia Baptists offer support at fair

 

Sherri Brown

Moms and dads check out the Baby Comfort station. This year the station was on the official fair map and signs around the fairgrounds advertised the spot.

The Baby Comfort station at the Georgia National Fair is finally on the map.

Associations from the middle Georgia region started the fair ministry to families with young children in 2002. The tent, with a private, cooled place to change and feed a baby, was a success – for those who could find it.

“We weren’t on the fair map at first, so we just had to rely on people walking by and finding us,” said Clyde Evans, ministry resource consultant for middle Georgia and organizer of the event.

But last year, the group was officially on the map. This year they were on the map and had signs posted all around the fairgrounds. It made a difference.

“This was our best year yet,” Evans said. “Each year we touch more and more people. We had 772 people who registered. When you add in those who didn’t register and those who came back two and three times, the number served is easily between 1,000 and 1,100.”

Sheri Featherston visited the baby station several times during the day; she came to the fair with her 14-week-old daughter, Lilly.

“I love this place. No one’s walking by staring at me while I’m nursing her. They do a good job here keeping the bathrooms clean, but it’s so nice to sit and be private. And the rocking chairs are just an added bonus,” she said, holding a cold bottle of water a volunteer had given her.

Each year the baby station is improved. The second year they added air conditioning in the feeding area. This year they bought a new tent and new rocking chairs.

“We usually use the Rehoboth disaster relief unit’s tent, but this year we had to buy another one because all the tents are on the Gulf Coast,” Evans said.

Funds for a new tent were provided through Cooperative Program funds. The tent will be used each year by the baby station, but will also be used by the disaster relief unit at other times of the year.

“All ten of the middle Georgia associations pitch in and the Georgia Baptist Convention helps out too,” Evans said.

Of course, the more than 100 volunteers that work under the blue and white tent make a difference, too.

Many of the volunteers – representing all ten associations in the area – return year after year to work a shift or two at the fair.

“I had such a good time last year meeting people and looking for opportunities to share Christ,” said Jennifer Ellington, a member of Faith Church in McRae who returned this year for a two-shift assignment with other women from her church.

It’s an investment in time and money that pays off, Evans said.

“We’re a positive presence. Christians and churches sometimes get negative press. This gives us a chance to put a smiley face on the GBC. But most important, I know families are being reached for Christ.”

 

Bigger baby dreams

Last spring Evans attended a church in the area and was told about a new family that had joined. Church members had visited the family after receiving their name from the baby comfort station.

“That makes it all worth it,” he said.

In order to get as many names as possible, this year Evans made up a gift basket of Christian parenting books, Veggie Tales DVDs, children’s books, and a family devotion book.

“We sort out the names that list a church and send the other names to churches we know will follow up on them. Outreach is the primary reason we do this,” Evans said.

It’s been so successful that Evans is dreaming even bigger baby comfort dreams.

“I dream of taking an old travel trailer and fitting it to be a mobile Baby Comfort station. We could use it at any number of venues in Georgia and the region. I think it’ll work,” he said.

 

The Baby Comfort station is made possible through your support of the Cooperative Program. CP funds helped purchase a new tent for the station and provided funds for purchasing a site at the fair and providing cold water and ice for mothers and babies – and even a few dads. For more information about the Baby Comfort station, contact Clyde Evans at cevans@gabaptist.org or (478) 988-4121 or (888) 214-8979.

You and your church may send Cooperative Program gifts to:
J. Robert White, Executive Director
Georgia Baptist Convention
2930 Flowers Rd., South
Atlanta, GA 30341-5562