SURGOINSVILLE, Tenn. — Tina
and her mother came out onto a porch that wasn’t there three days earlier.
Tina, 28, nearly died in an
auto accident; she is still in a wheelchair. Until the new porch was built,
Tina and her chair had to be lifted straight up to get through the front door.
If home alone and fire broke out, she could not have escaped.
So 10 North Carolina Baptist
volunteers led by Ken Funderburk worked three days to tear down the old porch
and steps, then build a sturdy, covered front porch with a ramp and concrete
sidewalk at the base. Now Tina can wheel herself out the front door for the
first time in months.
“If a general contractor had
done this, it probably would have cost $8,000, but for the good it does, it’s
priceless,” said Ken Marshbanks, a building contractor and Baptist Men director
at Cornerstone Baptist Church, Charlotte.
A successful project? Sure,
but it was just one part of a week of work done by the 64-member volunteer team
from Cornerstone and eight other churches, some as far as Mayodan and Garner.
Team leader was Susan Justice, Cornerstone’s minister of music.
“This is only a four-hour
drive from Charlotte. It’s not so far to come to a place that’s so completely
different,” she said. The team worked in the rippling hill country west of
Kingsport and Johnson City.
Get off the main roads
around here and you’ll see some of the worst poverty in the Southeast; houses or
mobile homes falling apart with outhouses out back.
Spiritual needs abound as
well. “On any given Sunday here, 80 percent of the people in Hawkins County
will not be in anybody’s church,” said John Parott, director of missions for
the 55-church Holston Valley Baptist Association.
The North Carolina team’s
work came under the Appalachian Coalfields Ministry, a ministry of N.C. Baptist
Men targeting poor areas of Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia.
Baptist Men are partnering with Appalachian Regional Ministries across the
Appalachian area, supported by the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
and 12 other state Baptist conventions, plus the Southern Baptist Convention’s
North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the national Woman’s Missionary Union.
Gifts to the North Carolina
Missions Offering help to support this outreach because they provide the
operating funds for N.C. Baptist Men.
North Carolina Baptists
Dewey and Kathie Aiken are self-supporting Mission Service Corps missionaries
assigned to Appalachian Regional Ministry by NAMB. They are veteran missions
workers who earlier coordinated thousands of volunteers in Vermont for N.C.
In 2009 about 1,000 North
Carolina Baptist men and women volunteers served in Appalachia.
But the most important local
element of the North Carolina team’s work was Of One Accord Ministries led by
Sheldon Livesay. A Rogersville native, Livesay worked in retail sales in South
Carolina and Shelby before heading back to his hometown, where God called him
into full-time ministry.
Of One Accord has grown to
be a well-respected multi-million dollar collection of ministries that includes
thrift stores, three food pantries, medical clinic, evangelistic outreach and
other work that helped well over 30,000 people across a two-county area last
year. An international missions program has work in seven countries.
More than 300 local
volunteers provide manpower, with 25 volunteer teams from outside, including
the North Carolina one. A long-time member of First Baptist Church,
Rogersville, Livesay had high praise for the North Carolina Baptists.
Such visiting teams allow Of
One Accord to expand its work during the summer months. Livesay tells the
volunteers, “It’s God’s ministry but you’re the ones that make it happen.” And
he says they should watch for how God creates ministry opportunities that
became possible just because they are here.
Another North Carolina
construction team, headed by Ken Marshbanks of Cornerstone shored up a woman’s
house whose floor had rotted away, forcing her to live in the garage.
Dentist David Kwan, a member
of Hickory Grove Baptist Church, Charlotte, joined with Lloyd Price, a local
dentist and Baptist, to treat some 80 patients at a free dental clinic. Mandy
Campbell was dental assistant. She is a member of New Hope Baptist Church,
Charlotte, where her husband, Mike, is pastor.
Also assisting was Shannon
Paulo, a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Waxhaw. Gracie Frank, a
New Hope member, managed patient records. Glenn Stuart, who drives one of the
two medical-dental bus clinics of N.C. Baptist Men, also helped. He is a member
of Aversboro Road Baptist Church, Garner.
Coordinating the ministry
was Elizabeth Locklare of Cornerstone, a registered nurse with the Mecklenburg
Nursing Fellowship’s dental ministry. She works regularly in the dental
ministry at East Baptist Church, Charlotte, and many other locations.
“We’ve seen terrible needs
among the people here. Most people needed multiple extractions and deep
cleaning,” she said. The dentists had done 45 extractions by Friday morning and
estimated that over just two days they provided dental care that would have
cost more than $16,000 in standard office visits.
But the clinic provided more
than dentistry. Brenda Coleman talked with every patient and presented the plan
of salvation, giving out 36 Bibles during the week. She is a long-time member
of Beaver Island Baptist Church near Mayodan.
“It was been a heartbreaking
week. Dental problems are just part of it. There are school problems, drug
problems, alcoholism problems, housing problems,” she said.
The case that hurt her
heart, she said, was a 28-year-old man who was a diabetic. He told Coleman he
would be living in a park by the weekend because he was losing his house. His
insulin must be temperature controlled yet he has no place to lay his head, she
Back at the Shepherd’s
Center, Of One Accord’s ministry center on East Main Street in Rogersville,
four volunteers — April McDermott and Virginia Crawford of Cornerstone; Jeff
Smith and Charlotte Stuart, New Hope — packed food for needy families.
Three volunteers helped
prepare meals for senior adults: Marilee Funck of Aversboro Road Baptist
Church, Garner; Sandra Duncan and Trish Marshbanks, Cornerstone.
Jeff Smith and other North
Carolina volunteers also worked in the thrift store: Bobby and Betty Branson,
Westwood Baptist Church, Cary; Joan Brown, Joanne Potter and Joanna Potter,
Cornerstone; and Teresa Smith, New Hope. Eddie Walker of Cornerstone provided
help and counseling to people using Of One Accord’s computer lab. He also spent
many hours updating the ministry’s web site and teaching the staff how to
maintain it. Mike Justice of Cornerstone, a retired Charlotte police officer,
helped with fingerprinting, another Of One Accord service to the community.
Paul Talbert and John Watson
of Cornerstone mowed and trimmed many lawns into shape, including one for a
woman who is sick and undergoing dialysis.
Friday night before the team
returned to North Carolina on Saturday, the town of Rogersville closed off the
downtown area and brought in about 100 classic cars, from hot rods to early
1950s Fords and Chevys — a “Cruise-In.”
As visitors oohed over the
cars, Baptist volunteers sang Christian songs from the steps of the historic
courthouse; Susan Justice directed. North Carolina volunteers helped kids play
games while Laura Jernigan and Josh Wyse of Cornerstone, did ballooning and
Sandra Duncan, Joanna Potter and others painted kids’ faces.
For the North Carolina
volunteers, it had been an eye-opening, productive week.