FORT CASWELL — In the parking lot behind the fire station Frank Smith and his father-in-law grilled hamburgers and chatted with firemen. Inside, chili warmed on the stove and Smith’s children poured sweet tea. His wife and mother-in-law set out chips and condiments. Occasionally the three Smith children ran outside to check on dad.
When lunch was ready Oak Island firemen and police officers gathered for the blessing, but first, Frank and Rachel’s youngest, five-year-old Lydia, led a devotion with her grandfather. They talked about how God sent His son Jesus Christ to die on a cross to pay the penalty for sins so that sinners could be forgiven and know God.
The Oak Island fire station was just one of the sites where families served during Family Missions Week in September, the first event jointly sponsored by N.C. Baptist Men and Embrace Women’s Missions and Ministries.
Chuck Register, Baptist State Convention executive leader for church planting and missions development, said, “It is a natural partnership for North Carolina Baptist men and women to come together to bring glory and honor to Christ.” Every morning families went out and served, and every evening they met together for worship.
Mike Sowers, N.C. Baptist Men youth missions and family foundations consultant, developed this event, as he coordinates the Deep Impact summer missions weeks to give families a place to do missions together. “Many kids have never seen their parents doing missions work,” he said.
Family Missions Week helped the Smith’s three children put “hands and feet to what they believe,” Rachel said. To participate in something like Family Missions Week parents must take time off from work, rearrange nap and bedtime schedules and sometimes make financial sacrifices. Yet, the value in teaching children to put others before self and being ready to share their faith is worth it.
For the Smiths, “it doesn’t seem like a sacrifice because we made this commitment to missions.”
Mission sites included feeding meals to public servant workers, beach evangelism, construction and visitation at assisted living facilities.
“We are trying to reach families for Christ, which means it starts with the parents,” said Ashley Allen, Embrace director who led beach evangelism. “Children are watching their parents. They imitate and model what they do. They don’t know how to apply God’s word if they only see their parents at church and never on mission.”
Joseph Graham served on the beach all week, along with his wife and daughter. They prayer walked, played games with children and passed out cups of cold water. Graham, a retired Navy man, usually goes overseas once a year on a mission trip but this was the first mission trip as a family. Graham wants his family to understand that serving others is done every day — “it’s not just a quote in the Bible.”
Julie Harrison, her husband and two children worked at the construction site to help repair the home of an elderly couple who are both are unemployed and the husband is disabled. The team replaced rotten floors and added piers and floor joists in the bathroom, kitchen, living room and laundry room.
They had funds to replace the toilet thanks to a Deep Impact car wash earlier in the summer, and put in a new washer and dryer donated by a local church. Harrison’s husband Mark is missions pastor of Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem.
Harrison said the children often watch as dad leaves home on different trips, so this week at Oak Island was a chance for them to learn about missions and why dad has to go.
“I hope this week develops within them a heart to serve others,” Harrison said. “We can’t forget about the rest of the world — it’s a mandate to serve.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Lilley is research and communications coordinator for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.)