BSC partnership promotes outreach to military families
June 13 2003 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

BSC partnership promotes outreach to military families | Friday, June 13, 2003

Friday, June 13, 2003

BSC partnership promotes outreach to military families

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

N.C. Baptists are helping ease the burdens on families left behind by N.C. National Guard troops who have answered the nation's call to duty.

National Guard units have taken on a larger role in U.S. military efforts in recent years. About 2,000 troops from 14 N.C. Army National Guard units and parts of several N.C. Air National Guard units are deployed around the world.

The partnership between the Baptist State Convention (BSC) and the N.C. National Guard is called "Operation Helping Neighbors." Larry Jones, a military and chaplaincy ministries consultant for the BSC and a chaplain in the N.C. National Guard's 60th Troop Command, serves as liaison between the two.

Jones spreads the word about the program to chaplains and family support groups in National Guard units across the state. Families who need help contact one of the National Guard's eight Family Assistance Centers, which forwards the information to Jones.

Jones reviews the requests and sends them to Gaylon Moss, volunteerism coordinator for N.C. Baptist Men, who finds volunteers to help.

N.C. Baptist Men has more than 4,000 volunteers in its network, said Richard Brunson, executive director of the organization.

"I don't think anyone we've called couldn't do it," he said.

Moss agreed.

"For every request we've had, we've had North Carolina Baptists say, "Yes, we'll take care of it,'" he said.

When the volunteers hear about the need they are eager to help, telling Moss, "We'll get on that."

In the program's first month, N.C. Baptists have responded to about 10 requests. Most needed some type of home or car repair. A few requested counseling.

Jones has counseled some families. CareNet, a counseling ministry of N.C. Baptist Hospital, has counseled a few families. The ministry agreed to provide its services on a sliding-scale fee basis.

A coordinator at one of the family assistant centers told Jones the system is working beautifully. One family member told him that volunteers did an outstanding job.

The requests for help included oil changes, grass mowing, installing safety latches on cabinets, removing limbs from roofs and even the need for a haircut, Moss said.

"It's like we always do, try to match resources with needs," he said.

Jones said he hopes the program becomes a model for future ministries.

"'Readiness' is a big focus in the military," he said. "And, as North Carolina Baptists, we want to be ready to spring into action quickly when future mobilizations come about."

Jones said efforts like "Operation Helping Neighbors are important in response to Jesus' admonition in Matthew 25 to lend aid to those in need.

"Beyond this, it is my dream that volunteers across the state will find through this effort an interest in maintaining an ongoing ministry presence with guard units in nearly 100 communities in North Carolina," he said. "It will be a real asset to North Carolina National Guard chaplains to have local congregations to call on when needs arise even when there is not an active military operation going on."

Jones said he hopes the volunteers' involvement in the program might also lead churches to minister to military units, prisons, hospitals and other places "where chaplains serve and needs are great."

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6/13/2003 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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