North Carolina Baptist youth are learning to serve in a more multicultural environment.
Each night of one of the Deep Impact weeks sponsored by North Carolina Baptist Men features a speaker from a different ethnic group.
Referring to Rev. 7:9, when “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, (stands) before the throne and in front of the Lamb” (NIV), Kenneth Tan said the goal is to reach and disciple many people.
“We dare to dream that our churches be more like the Bible,” said Tan, who is a leader in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s multicultural ministries community. “We see more openness in the youth.”
Tan refers to DREAM — Dare, Reach, Equip, Affirm and Mission — when speaking about multicultural ministry.
Not only must people dare to dream but they must reach the next generation. In order to ensure that this generation reaches the next, Tan said they must be equipped and then affirm that this generation can be on mission.
“Here’s where the critical part is … not just look at someone from different background as mission field but missions force,” Tan said.
As Deep Impact grows, more weeks are becoming more multicultural, according to Tan and Mike Sowers, youth mobilization consultant with Baptist Men.
“The church can become a catalyst for change,” said Tan. “I wish our churches here would see what these kids are doing.”
As part of the multicultural focus week, the students have at least one special meal with a variety of ethnic foods.
“A lot of our weeks have mixed groups,” said Sowers, but the Red Springs and Greensboro weeks were the most diverse because of the youth and the people they were serving.
Sowers said all the Deep Impact weeks this year were full with the exception of Pennsylvania. Next year, there will be east and west tracks offered, doubling the amount of camps available across the state.
“It’s fun to help people,” said *Sarah Connor, a rising 8th grader at Apex Middle School, who was at her first mission trip in Red Springs. She worked on a crew with fellow Salem Baptist Church in Apex members as well as some students from First Korean Baptist Church in Raleigh.
“They really prepared us how to tell people about God.”
John and Lula Locklear expressed their gratitude for the students as well as the other teams that are helping piece together their Lumberton home after an electrical fire in March.
A youth crew from Salem Baptist Church was putting on a new roof for the couple.
“I thank the Lord for everybody,” said John Locklear, 76.
Lula, 75, wholeheartedly agreed.
“We’ve had some wonderful people out here working,” she said. “Everybody’s been so nice that’s out there.”
The Locklears heard about the ministry through Red Springs from another member at their church — West End Baptist Church in Lumberton.
“They’ve just been a blessing because we didn’t have no insurance,” she said.
At a local Boys & Girls Club, Steve Goatley, youth and children’s minister at First Baptist Church in Elizabeth City, led a creative team that took their skits and songs to various retirement homes throughout the week. The youth enjoyed spending time with the younger children. They painted faces, made balloon animals and shared their musical and acting skills. A Korean student on his team painted on many of the team members’ arms.
“All the kids have taken to her culture,” said Goatley, who said this Deep Impact allowed his youth to “see missions from the inside,” referring to a servant team who was on site at Red Springs to take care of the youth.
Goatley said Deep Impact was a wonderful trip for his students because of its “reasonable price” and fairly close proximity (four hours away).
The Red Springs site had to bring in extra bunker trailers to handle the overflow from the main building. It was the highest attended Deep Impact until the following week in Greensboro.
Tan hopes multicultural week is just the beginning.
“Our young people don’t want to talk about it they want to do something,” he said. “Eventually our prayer is that our mission week becomes the norm.”