Published August 14, 2008
CARTERSVILLE — For three days ending Aug. 2 the Bartow Baptist Association mobilized more than 250 people from 23 churches to engage in local mission endeavors designed to impact their Jerusalem for Christ.
David Franklin, the Bartow associational missionary, dubbed the missions effort “SPLASH Bartow,” stating that he borrowed the acronym SPLASH, meaning “Show People Love and Share Him” from Ken Hemphill, the SBC’s national strategist for Empowering Kingdom Growth.
The “missionaries” were divided into teams and dispatched to conduct backyard Bible clubs, minister in nursing homes, refurbish houses, and various ministry facilities like the pregnancy care ministry.
Jonathan Tipper, student pastor at Cartersville’s Tabernacle Baptist Church, stated, “We asked the churches in our association to suggest ministry projects for our consideration. We wanted projects that 15 students could finish in three days. We got forty suggestions.
“I hope this will be a catalyst for a continuing ministry. The teams are organized not by church affiliation, but by the schools they attend. Our goal is to strengthen the body of Christ within each school. School start Aug. 7 and all participants in this missions effort will wear their “SPLASH Bartow T-shirts on that first day of school.”
Katie McKenzie, a schoolteacher in the Bartow County Alternative School program, was one of the beneficiaries of SPLASH Bartow. More than a dozen students, under the direction of caring adults, were buzzing around the McKenzie home like a colony of worker bees, scraping off old paint and preparing the house an extreme makeover.
McKenzie, a former Catholic from Pennsylvania who was saved and baptized less than two years ago at Atco Baptist Church, was overwhelmed by the act of kindness she was witnessing in her own home.
The Bartow County teacher exclaimed, “I have been subjected to some serious financial struggles and have been trying to use my tax refund checks for the past few years to get the house in better repair, but it has been a slow process. Some Christian men have already come and repaired my windows. To think these students would take their last week of summer vacation to help me is more that I can comprehend.
“I want to become involved in this program next year so that I can give back to others, because I have received so much.”
Tipper observed, “It is great when a receiver becomes a giver. In fact, that is what the Christian faith is all about.”
At the Friendly Lanes Mobile Home Park John David Delgado, a native of Bolivia and student pastor of The Church at Woodland, played his guitar and led young people and children in singing Christian songs in both English and Spanish.
As Tipper observed the students that were accompanying Delgado, he commented, “As a result of this experience we will have students who will have their eyes opened to a lifetime of ministry.”
Tipper continued, “I have been reading a book by Alex and Brett Harris entitled, ‘Do Hard Things.’ The book explains that there is a growing movement of young people who are rebelling against the low expectations of today’s culture by choosing to ‘do hard things’ for the glory of God. These students are doing some hard things; and in my view they are not the future of the church. They are the church.”
At the Kingston recreational park a group of teenagers had gathered to see skateboarders demonstrate their skating prowess on a half-pipe. Afterwards they sat down on a tennis court to listen to a talented high school student in a Christian concert.
Meanwhile, adults were preparing lunches, some of which would be delivered to worksites and others served in the churches where the food preparation was taking place.
Together for the common good
The whole project had been undergirded by people who had been praying for weeks that God would bless SPLASH Bartow.
By the end of the first day a young girl at the area children’s shelter had accepted Christ and God stories were coming in from just about every ministry site.
“The remarkable thing about all this,” Franklin explained, “is that our churches are working together for the common good of the county. I think we may actually be making a ‘splash’ in our part of the world for the Kingdom of God.”
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