Mission trips give N.C. Baptists perspective
August 10 2001 by Melissa Pendleton , BR Intern

Mission trips give N.C. Baptists perspective | Friday, Aug. 10, 2001

Friday, Aug. 10, 2001

Mission trips give N.C. Baptists perspective

By Melissa Pendleton BR Intern What if North Carolina Baptist Churches had to minister to children without acrylic paints and wiggle eyes? What if all the workers had was the Bible?

In some places that's all they do have.

Janice Taylor, West End Baptist Church, Williamston, and Allison Lairmore, Forest Hills Baptist Church, Raleigh, know about places like that.

Taylor, 70, answered a 50 year-old call from God and began traveling to Africa in 1998. Her first trip was to Kraalhoek, South Africa, a poor area.

The Bible School that Taylor and the other missionaries held was comparable to Vacation Bible School here - only in Africa and without air conditioning. Taylor said that the group had grown to be so large, that one day they had to leave their cinderblock building and have class outside. The children were eager to learn about the Lord.

All of the supplemental Bible school resources came from their home church. The missionaries even brought snacks for the kids to fellowship with because such luxuries were unavailable in the mission field.

Taylor said she began with the creation story and worked her way to Jesus.

Since her first mission trip, Taylor has traveled to Port Elizabeth in March 2001 and Manzini in February 1999 and February 2000.

While Port Elizabeth is a more affluent area, the squatter villages of the poor areas are still present. These poor areas are a breeding ground for drug and alcohol abuse, theft, rape and other crimes, she said, and are in dire need of the gospel, she said.

Taylor said one of the "heartbreaking things" she witnessed was during a visit to a local school in Port Elizabeth. A local teacher had asked Taylor to visit her classroom. The teacher told Taylor of how she had bought her students a loaf of bread so she would know they had at least one piece of bread to eat that day. None of them had eaten breakfast or lunch, and many had gone without food the night before.

The children of these villages need food for their bodies, as well as for their souls. "The world has the children by high school, so the ministry must begin much earlier," Taylor said.

The growth in Christian programs is evidence the children need the Lord, and Christians are working to help them find Him. Taylor said that during her 2000 visit to Manzini, Bible School began with two or three kids, and by week's end, there were 50 present.

The Manzini program has grown so much that the church has had to train more teachers for the youth programs.

Taylor brought back stories of success and hardship from her journeys. She also returned with the mantra, "Missions is my passion."

Allison Lairmore is the associate pastor of preschool and children at Forest Hills Baptist. Like Taylor, she was called to Africa. Lairmore's mission work took her to Cape Town, South Africa, where she worked with other members of the Baptist State Convention Bible Teaching Reaching team.

Lairmore was working in a "rather affluent church" when she said she was blessed with the opportunity presented by the entrance of "five women from a nearby squatter camp."

Lairmore describes these women as "very poor, [with] very little education, and (they) could not speak English." But these women were welcomed and placed in conference groups, along with the others.

After their meeting, Lairmore tried to ease a woman's burden by giving her markers and coloring paper, teaching pictures and games, memory verses and bags of "extras." But the woman wanted more than that. She asked, "How do I make the children want to come to learn about Jesus?"

This woman's question made Lairmore ask herself questions like, "What if there were no new Bibles for my first graders or no trips to camp for my sixth graders? ... What would we do with a lack of education, knowledge and training?"

She came to the conclusion that Christians should "focus in on children and do what's best for them." Lairmore said she now asks herself, "Is this the best way I can teach children the Bible?" She continues, "We are going to meet [the children's] needs best by investing in their lives." Their spiritual lives outside of slick, colorful books and big events need attention.

One day the puffy paint and pipe cleaners may all disappear. Lairmore encourages teachers to take advantage of possible resources in every way, but to every now and then have a missionary day where windows are opened and the crafts put away. They should invite biblical figures to visit the Sunday School or VBS class, so that in the absence of busy activity, a child can invite Jesus into his or her heart, she said.

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8/10/2001 12:00:00 AM by Melissa Pendleton , BR Intern | with 0 comments

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