The humble saints who worship at the Hemley Road church of Christ will probably never set foot in a foreign country. The economy in Bayou La Batre, Alabama is awful with unemployment at many times the rest of the nation. They are truly living by faith, trusting God day by day to provide the means to run church vans to gather children and those without transportation, pay utilities, and feed the hungry, etc. How then can this little flock carry out the great commission given to all believers?
They have been faithful with what they have been given and without realizing it have become a model of church ministry. They are salt and light in their community, loving the down and out folks, rebuilding homes and lives, feeding the hungry, and loving those who need love most. And, they are touching the world.
I noticed with admiration that soon after they became a local church they started to give to World Radio, helping to get the good news about Jesus to a needy world. Recently, their ministry became international. No, they have not been on a mission trip across the sea, God brought Bolivia to them.
When Carol and I visited Hemley Rd Easter weekend three men from Bolivia attended services. They had recently moved to Bayou La Batry to work in a sea food packing plant. None of the three men spoke English. So, they communicated with the universal language of love. Smiles and hugs, shared meals, and rides to Wal-Mart were some of the ways they loved these foreigners. At once they started to imagine ways to reach them with the good news about Jesus and they have.
One of the men, Roberto, was recently baptised. This past Sunday when I spoke at the church a young hispanic man stood with me and interpreted my message to those in the audience who only understand Spanish. This young man is the son of the Summerdale church’s hispanic minister. They have song books with both English and Spanish, side by side.
One expression of Roberto’s gratitude and affection for his new family is this beautiful mural he painted behind the baptistery where he reenacted the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
This is a wonderful example of Christians seeing what God is doing and joining him in his mission. God’s agenda most often cannot be accomplished by plans and programs. By being faithful with what they have been given the church in Bayou La Batre has been able to touch Bolivia. Who knows what God will do in the lives of Roberto’s family and friends in Bolivia?
What is the lesson here? Become aware of what God is doing and join him in that mission. No program, no planning, is better than what God is already doing. When will you or your church have an opportunity to join God in his redemptive work. Your “Roberto” is waiting…
We just returned from Bayou LaBatre and the church at Hemley Road from a spring break missions trip with 44 teenagers of Searcy, Arkansas. The good work is continuing, children coming by buses and vans to hear the word of God and receive loving attention. It was an eye-opening experience for our group, and our teens’ hearts were truly touched by the children. Contribute to the work of the church if you are not able to go there personally–we have missions that are not just overseas, and this is one of those I believe needs our support. There are great needs in the community, and the people here at Hemley Road Church of Christ are definitely trying to be a light to a world that needs Christ.
Thanks, I couldn’t have said it better. You are right on every point.