In the past months, church teams transported trailers filled with tools and supplies used to refurbish a Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) residential cottage. But the most important resources these individuals brought were themselves.
Groups of North Carolina Baptists donated their time, resources and individual skills to transform Mills Home’s Bright-Brown Cottage in Thomasville. The cottage is being revitalized for boys who will participate in BCH’s transitional living service, a newer aspect of BCH’s residential care that provides specialized aid to older residents preparing for life as independent adults.
“Bay Leaf, Scotts Hill, and Pleasant Garden are three of our most strategic and influential North Carolina Baptist churches,” says BCH president Michael C. Blackwell. “Having them work in unison at Bright-Brown Cottage has been inspirational to all of us at Baptist Children’s Homes.”
Members of Bay Leaf Baptist Church in Raleigh lend their skills to help revitalize Mills Home’s Bright-Brown Cottage in Thomasville. Bay Leaf is one of several church groups volunteering their time and resources.
Scotts Hill Baptist Church is involved in missions work within their community and beyond. A strong partnership with Baptist Children’s Homes grew from the church’s desire to develop a closer relationship with the 124-year-old institution.
“We became closer through BCH’s ‘Food Roundup’ last year, and decided we wanted to do even more,” said Jimmie Suggs, Scotts Hill’s pastor of administration and evangelism. “There was a need with Bright-Brown Cottage, and our church felt we had the gifts and skills to make the commitment.”
The church sent four volunteer teams to Mills Home throughout a five-week period. The groups installed laminate flooring, painted bathroom cabinets, and completed additional painting jobs. Other churches picked up where they left off.
“We have a wonderful group of men known as the ‘Bay Leaf Builders’ who helped repair windows and doors, replaced glass, and did a whole lot of painting,” said Bay Leaf Baptist Church business manager Will Warren. “It’s really a witnessing tool for some of these men. They witness through their actions.”
The men stayed for an entire week sleeping in the cottage they helped refurbish. Throughout their stay, they spent time with residents sharing an occasional meal in their cottages and learning about the children they were there to help.
“You always get more than you give,” Warren said. “You always walk away more blessed.”
Pleasant Garden Baptist Church pastor Mike Barrett and men from his church helped revitalize Mills Home’s Huffman Cottage, a transitional living cottage for girls, last year. Assisting at Bright-Brown and its transitional living service for boys was a natural follow-up choice.
“It gives these boys a safe place where they are loved and mentored for their next step in life,” Barrett said. The church also assists and ministers at BCH’s Oak Ranch in Sanford. “It’s important to help them with their transition to life through a Christ-centered ministry, and that’s what we love about it.”
Through transitional living, BCH teaches residents necessary life skills including managing bills, maintaining a budget, and determining appropriate living arrangements.
“When children leave our care, if they do not have strong family support, and many do not, they can have a difficult time on their own,” Blackwell said. “We’re helping teach them how to handle their new adult responsibilities before leaving BCH so they may achieve success once they have exited our care.”
Pleasant Garden Baptist Church pastor Mike Barrett adds a new coat of paint to a wall.
Bright-Brown will open its doors soon. With work at the cottage winding down, churches are already focusing on upcoming projects. Teams from Pleasant Garden, Scotts Hill and Bay Leaf will soon head to Camp Duncan, BCH’s forthcoming girls wilderness camp in Aberdeen. Volunteers are preparing the 576-acre property for the ministry.
“It just shows what can happen when ministers and laity commit their resources of labor and prayer to make better the lives of children,” Blackwell said.
And while churches’ efforts help meet specific needs for BCH, Suggs believes the work is equally important for the churches.
“We have a biblical mandate to care for the orphans and the defenseless,” he said. “We are talking about a segment of society that must have intervention by the church. Scotts Hill sees BCH’s mission as an extension of the work of the church. It’s critical for all churches to carry out the mandate. One church can’t do it by itself.
BCH is a place for us to help and support the ministry so we can be obedient to God’s word and the mission He has mandated.”
If your church would like to help Baptist Children’s Homes, contact Brenda Gray at (800) 476-3669, ext. 1230, or at [email protected].