By Sharon Mager
PORT DEPOSIT, Md. — Pleasant View Baptist Church (PVBC) in Port Deposit, Md., will welcome Josh McDowell in person on March 23 to share about “Relationships that Transform.” McDowell is a popular author and speaker, sharing how he, as an agnostic, discovered the truth of the Gospel. McDowell’s presentation is part of the church’s ongoing emphasis to reach out to broken families in their community.
PVBC believes deeply in the Great Commission, and they’re obedient to the charge, near and far. They send and support missions work internationally – sometimes in places that are hostile to the Gospel. Ministering closer to home, they support a variety of missions including the Salaam Center in Baltimore, Md., a place of refuge for internationals arriving in the United States, alone and in need of navigating a new world, and of friendship.
Even closer to home, the church is busy loving their neighbors. They’ve developed a three-part strategic outreach initiative: helping single and broken families; combatting drug use and ministering to those addicted and their families; and connecting with and serving local schools.
“We don’t want to neglect our own back yard,” emphasized PVBC Student Pastor Andrew Goins, who coordinates the local community initiative along with Associate Pastor Josh Phillips.
Serving schools has been an excellent opportunity to identify and serve local needs. Goins said the school ministry is a natural extension of the church’s outreach. Several teachers attend the church, and they know first-hand the struggles that teachers and staff experience daily, and they know which families need assistance.
The church adopted five schools, praying for them, assisting with school supplies and other basic needs, and being there — open to meet needs as they arise.
Goins said the church approached school administrators asking how the church could help them, and the schools responded, giving the church an outline of basic needs, particularly supplies for students and teachers.
“We bought them tons of the stuff they asked for, and we delivered it,” Goins said, adding that the gifts offered the church members opportunities to talk and build relationships with the teachers.
At one local elementary school, the church has a birthday bash for kids each month during lunchtime. “Our church gives them ‘goodie bags,” Goins explained — another bridge builder.
To address the drug problems in the community the church hosted an addictions workshop in September and more than 60 people attended. Parents, a former addict, and a state police officer, who deals with narcotics, spoke at the meeting. Afterward, attendees could receive NARCAN training, learning to use a drug that partially or completely reverses a heroin overdose. Goins said each attendee left with many resources provided by the county.
Continuing their emphasis on combatting drug use, the church partnered with “Ride4Life,” an Ohio based Christian motorcycle group, to do shows for a local middle school in October. The cyclists did a few stunts at a school assembly and then shared with the students about the perils of drug addiction. Afterward, they invited the children and their families to an upcoming “Spooktacular” event where the cyclists performed a stunt show to the cheers of the crowd before openly sharing the Gospel of Jesus. The whole town was involved. Police shut off the road, and even the mayor attended.
During the Christmas holiday, the church continued its act of loving their neighbors. The church invited students and their families to a huge Christmas party.
“We served them coffee, or hot cocoa, and cookies, and told them about the reason for Christmas,” Goins said.
Visitors strolled through a live manger scene, with actors portraying Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and angels. A choir sang carols.
“We had three or four good crowds that night. Then we brought them inside and gave them gifts and Bibles,” Goins said. The church partnered with “Candy Cane Kids Ministry,” for the party and the church youth group lent a hand with the whole event. Members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes also participated in giving out the gifts.
In the spring, Goins said the church will work with the local police department for a bicycle giveaway. They’ll have a cookout and present bicycles to children who otherwise couldn’t afford one.
They see the fruit of their labors, people are responding, especially the schools. Goins said the church is especially excited that one school has reached out to the church asking for help with a school service project.
“They’re taking the entire school of sixth to ninth graders out to serve their community. That’s never been done in our area, and we can share with them how to go about doing that,” Goins said. “That’s going to be a big deal in the area.”
Goins said there are also plans for the school and church, to partner to do a future community project together.
For more information about the church’s community initiatives, contact Goins. For information about tickets to the Josh McDowell event and register online, visit the church WEBSITE. Tickets are available for $20 each through Feb. 28 and then $25 afterward.