N.C. Baptist Men helps others on mission
January 19 2001 by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor

N.C. Baptist Men helps others on mission | Friday, Jan. 19, 2001

Friday, Jan. 19, 2001

N.C. Baptist Men helps others on mission

By Jimmy Allen BR Assistant Editor The number of N.C. Baptists serving as short-term missionaries in 2000 was enough to populate a city the size of Kinston. About 25,000 volunteers headed to places as far away as Bosnia and as close by as Grifton to serve others by building church facilities and houses, teaching Bible studies and developing relationships.

The response of N.C. Baptists to neighbors rebuilding from Hurricane Floyd flooding elevated the number of missionaries during 2000, but the number without Floyd relief would still be 20 times higher than a decade ago, said Richard Brunson, director of N.C. Baptist Men.

As Floyd relief begins to recede this year, N.C. Baptists are still heading to other areas of the world to express their faith through action. During 2001, about 1,000 Tar Heel Baptists are expected to serve short term in Alaska where the Baptist State Convention (BSC) has a partnership. About 1,500 are expected to participate in international mission trips, most of them to Honduras and Southern Africa, where the BSC has partnerships. Another 1,000 people will work with Baptist Men's medical and dental buses. And 10,000 are expected to complete N.C. Baptists' effort of rebuilding about 1,400 homes in Eastern North Carolina.

N.C. Baptist Men is well respected for its missions work, according to observers.

"Whenever we can get them for a partnership, we celebrate," said Tom Warrington, an associate director for the volunteers in mission department at the Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC) International Mission Board.

Vocational missionaries in Honduras were so impressed with N.C. Baptists' response to flooding caused by Hurricane Mitch they sought the Tar Heels in developing a partnership, said Bill Cashion, director of the volunteers in mission department at the IMB.

Warrington sees three reasons for N.C. Baptists' strong reputation - one, Baptist Men is seen as a well-organized group; two, N.C. Baptists fulfill their commitments; and, three, N.C. Baptists are a joy to work beside.

"We look forward anytime we can get North Carolina engaged in something," Warrington said.

The reputation reaches other groups, as well.

In December, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship announced the opening of a missions office in Raleigh. John Derrick, the associate missions coordinator for volunteers and for missionary training, cited N.C. Baptist Men as a reason for locating in the state.

"North Carolina Baptist Men have set a very tremendous model for being involved in volunteer and partnership missions," Derrick said. "They have set a great example of how that can be done."

Brunson sees several reasons for the success of N.C. Baptist Men's mission efforts.

"We're still a neighbor helping neighbor state," Brunson said. When a family's home is burned, people rally around the family. "That's part of North Carolina culture. That's a big part of North Carolina Baptist culture."

A second reason is related to the BSC. "We have a good system in North Carolina that values volunteers in the Convention," he said.

Third is a system in place that he calls "volunteer friendly."

"Because of that we could handle 1,900 people in two years," Brunson said, referring to the number of N.C. Baptists who traveled to Honduras to help in Hurricane Mitch relief. "People had a great experience."

Many of the volunteers who traveled to Honduras had never been outside of the United States, he said. If the system had not been volunteer friendly, the volunteer missionaries could have had a bad experience and carried home bad reports to their congregations. Instead, they carried back enthusiasm which has fostered the development of N.C. Baptists' mission efforts, Brunson said.

The fact Hurricane Floyd hit in North Carolina's backyard has resulted in more exposure to the opportunities of serving others.

About 20,000 people have responded since the flood in September 1999. Another 10,000 are expected this year.

"Something's happening and Floyd brought it on," Brunson said.

Before Floyd, N.C. Baptists were prepared with about 30 recovery units sponsored by churches and associations. Since Floyd, the number of units has increased to 70, he said.

"It's exploded and that's great," Brunson said.

No other state has more than 10 units, he said.

The effects of participating in missions can be noticeable in churches.

"It's more dramatic when you go to a Honduras," Brunson said. "People can just see God's working. A lot of time in regular, routine, daily life it's easy not to experience God's working."

One of the strengths of N.C. Baptist Men is the network that has been created, said Cashion.

"I would say, undoubtedly the response of North Carolina Baptist Men ranks with the very best of the SBC," he said.

Brunson recalled N.C. Baptists' response to Hurricane Floyd. While other denominations called on state government to respond, N.C. Baptists were providing food and helping "mud out" houses that had been flooded.

"We thought it was our job," he said. "We weren't asking the state to do it."

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1/19/2001 12:00:00 AM by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor | with 0 comments
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