Making a deep impact
August 23 2002 by Lynn Goswick , BR Correspondent

Making a deep impact | Friday, Aug. 23, 2002

Friday, Aug. 23, 2002

Making a deep impact

By Lynn Goswick BR Correspondent

NEW YORK CITY - Early one recent Monday morning Alicia Melvin of Statesville and Sarah Hamby of Greenville sat together in the cafeteria of Long Island University in Brooklyn. The two girls, who had just met, had just discovered they have a mutual friend.

They also learned that they shared a common purpose.

The two young ladies were in New York City with more than 160 Tar Heel youth and adults delivering the message of Jesus Christ through Deep Impact New York, the first national hands-on mission project sponsored by N.C. Baptist Men. The total number of participants was 165.

Deep Impact began as Mission Boot Camp in 1996 as a joint venture between Baptist Men and the staff at the N.C. Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell. During Boot Camp, the teenagers served on mission teams in Brunswick and New Hanover counties.

After a hiatus in 1999, the camp returned as Deep Impact in 2000. In 2001, coordinators added two spring weekends to the regular summer Caswell week. This year, the training program expanded to include a large spring weekend at Caswell, an international component in Honduras, the summer week at Caswell, the national project in New York and a fall weekend in Charlotte scheduled for Nov. 8-10.

During Deep Impact New York, teens and their leaders were divided into small groups with a particular talent or skill to spread the gospel. During the week of July 21-27, the teams shared through music, drama, sports, servant evangelism, backyard Bible clubs, prayer walking and office work.

Melvin, 17, a member of Bethel Baptist Church in Statesville, who had attended mission weeks at Caswell, had never participated in missions work outside her hometown. "I don't know what to expect," she said. "I don't know how people are going to react to me."

Hamby, 17, was in awe of the differences between the crowded streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn and her hometown of Greenville, where she is a member of Oakmont Baptist Church. "I hope that we actually reach out to people," she said, acknowledging that the teams' work will be a small drop in a big bucket of 8 million people. "You can't just expect to win over a whole city."

But the girls and their teammates certainly tried.

Melvin and Hamby were members of the music team, which spent the weekdays singing praise and worship songs near Central Park's boat pond, a place where children and adults can sail rented miniature motorized sailboats.

As New Yorkers and tourists passed by, the team members approached them with free packs of gum and cards inviting them to attend church.

Hamby said some of the people returned to the park on different days to listen to the group, including one Spanish-speaking woman with whom the group couldn't communicate the first day they met.

On the second day the woman visited, music team members were able to recruit a translator, a New York social worker who happened to sit down on a nearby bench.

"I think God really put her there," Hamby said, adding that the Spanish-speaking woman seemed happy that someone had tried to speak to her. "We were excited because she was excited."

John McGinnis, student missions consultant for N.C. Baptist Men and coordinator of the Deep Impact camps, hopes Hamby and her fellow campers will take their excitement back to their churches and reach their own communities with the gospel.

McGinnis said he has seen the positive effects hands-on missions training has had, not only on the communities where teens and their leaders work, but also on the teens themselves.

"When we go and we are obedient, Christ begins to impact our lives in a deeper way," he said. "Hopefully that impact will spread to the churches."

Christina Bruce, a member of Mineral Springs Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, said she realized that New Yorkers are not the only ones who need the gospel.

Bruce served on a survey team that went door-to-door seeking information that will help the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association in planting churches.

One day the team visited a church that looked much like Bruce's home church.

"I just realized there's no need to go all the way to New York City to do what we did," she said. "We can do it at home."

After their final worship service, Melvin said she planned to share the gospel with family members when she returned home.

She said the only word that would describe her experiences was "Wow!"

"There are so many that are confused and need God so badly," she said, adding that it was a great experience to share God's love with other people. "When we told them and to see the glow on their faces is just unbelievable."

The experience left a deep impact on Hamby, too.

"You didn't think you would get across to anybody," Hamby said. "(The week) has given me more confidence that people are willing to listen. It's given me more confidence to share my faith."

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8/23/2002 12:00:00 AM by Lynn Goswick , BR Correspondent | with 0 comments
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