BALTIMORE, Md.—The summer of 2008 is long gone, but Baltimore churches are still reaping the season’s harvest and expect to for years to come. Fifteen North American Mission Board (NAMB) missionaries, college students from across the country, arrived at the end of May to share their youthful energy, their hands-on manpower and their God-given gifts and talents with local churches for the summer.
The NAMB summer missionaries came to Baltimore just as 19 “May-Mester” missionaries from Hannibal LaGrange College were leaving after serving churches for a month. God used these teams, in His time and way, to do some amazing work in and around the city. Embrace Baltimore facilitated the partnerships.
Mark Bacolod, a local NAMB summer missionary from Glen Burnie, worked at Hazelwood Church this summer. Ed Reese, pastor of Hazelwood said through Bacolod’s ministry, the church tripled the size of its youth group. Bacolod made such an impression on the church that they’ve prayed about it and called him to be their part-time youth pastor.
Reese told of one girl who was apathetic about her attendance at youth group and Sunday school. Her parents were concerned and had been praying for her. Bacolod began ministering to her and within two months she had changed so much she wouldn’t miss a Sunday school or youth meeting. She even asked her mom for a Bible.
“He accomplished more in two months than we had in seven years,” reflected Reese.
Hazelwood Church also had a “May-Mester” missionary, Brian Starks, from Missouri. He too, Reese said, was a huge help. Starks paved the path for Mark’s success.
Reese said the growth in the youth, both numerically and spiritually has energized the whole church.
Jackie Perry, a missionary from Missouri, served at Valley Church. Rick Cash, pastor of Valley, said Perry also invigorated their church. Cash said Perry helped in a multitude of ways including assisting with and teaching the youth, helping with VBS and music camp and basically working wherever she was needed.
“She was very hands-on,” Cash said. He was particularly impressed with her ability to help lead a sports skills camp where Cash said her leadership and athletic skills were evident.
Cody Smith, from Missouri, ministered at Canton Church. Smith said that while God was using him to work with the youth of the church, he was being ministered to by the church.
“It was a small church and the family atmosphere was amazing,” Smith said.
Smith spent his time working with the youth, playing sports with them, getting to know them and giving them attention that many normally don’t get.
Wendy McCarty, from Mississippi, and Ryan Beadle, from Indiana, both worked at Streetlite Christian Fellowship.
Jeff Elkins, Streetlite’s executive pastor, said the two worked with the youth and children in all aspects—planning, organizing, administration and hands-on leadership.
“They had a wonderful impact on the church. They gave volunteers much needed support,” Ekins said. “They got to see three kids come to Christ and ten kids had major life changes through their relationship with Wendy and Ryan.”
“We saw growth both numerically and spiritually. The kids really benefited and keep in contact with each other through Facebook all the time.”
Jaimee LaFave, Embrace Baltimore’s director of mobilization, is pleased with the impact the summer missionaries had and are still having. LaFave said the missionaries provided real support to pastors, especially those who are the only church staff member. Pastors got a chance to have another person around to bounce ideas off of and to share some of the load. And the missionaries themselves received some real hands-on ministry experience.
“They also got to be mentored by pastors—to see the joys and struggles,” LaFave said.
LaFave is already making plans for the summer of 2009 and imagining the possibilities.
If you have a college student in your church who is thinking about becoming a “summer missionary” in 2009 and may be interested in serving in the metro-Baltimore area…contact Jaimee at email@example.com.
For those interested in serving in other parts of the Maryland/Delaware area, contact Collegiate and Adult Evangelism Missionary Thom Thornton at Tthornton@bcmd.org.