By Gerri Miller
River Region News Staff Writer
A group from Maryland made a big splash in the River Region community last week. In fact, this is the ninth year a group from the Bruce Outreach Center has traveled to Millbrook Baptist Church to help fill both the physical and spiritual needs of the community.
The mission trip is part of a partnership formed years ago between the Bruce Outreach Center and Millbrook Baptist Church. Project Director and Pastor Steffan Carr of Westernport, Maryland, and Millbrook Baptist Church Pastor Mike Ingram have been friends for 17 years and this is the fifth year of the mission project called Splash Week.
This year there are 23 missionaries ages nine to 61 who traveled 13 hours to serve our community’s needs. A group of 12 missionaries from Millbrook Baptist visited the Bruce Outreach Center in June to serve the community there.
“As a church, we identified the needs of the community and planned projects that fulfilled those needs,” Ingram said. “We can’t meet them all but we ask God to open our eyes to the path we need to take to help one another.”
The Maryland group traveled to our area last week riding a tidal wave of love and Christian service. One of the projects they completed was planning and putting on a Vacation Bible School for the Millbrook Child Development Program. The group also worked at Coosada Elementary School power washing sidewalks, cleaning inside of the building, spraying for insects and moving furniture. The group also did similar projects for Billingsley High School.
The mission group also helped Millbrook Baptist host a Family Fun Night. More than 100 people came to the church for a night of games, inflatables, food and face painting. Another fun project was visiting the Millbrook Senior Center and showing episodes of Andy Griffith.
The group also helped W.E.L.C.O.M.E., the food pantry for West Elmore County. They helped out with Christ Community Café, a monthly meal for those in need. Last week, more than 150 people were served. The Splash Week group took the leftover food to the Millbrook Police and Fire departments. The missionaries also helped with the organization’s monthly food drop. In the July food drop, 38,000 pounds of food was packed in the trunks of 164 families. The drop represented double the amount of food the organization usually provides to the community.
Ingram said such projects change your life when you realize how many needs we have in our community. “I hope we can have the eyes of Christ to see the hurt,” he said.
Brian Wilson, a volunteer from Millbrook Baptist Church, said the project did indeed open his eyes. “There are so many people here who are hungry both physically and spiritually,” he said. “Programs like this expose all of the needs of the community.” He also said that “for every blessing his group offered to the community last week they received that blessing back.”
Jojo Carr, a Maryland volunteer who helps organize the trips, said when you meet the physical needs of a community, “it leaves you open to help fill its spiritual needs.” Jojo Carr is 23 years old and has helped organize 23 mission trips. She is planning two more trips for her group to take in the fall. She is Steffan Carr’s daughter.
The groups do their own cooking and sleep at churches at night in order to make the trip affordable for anyone in the congregation who wants to serve. “I get to bring a lot of new Christians who we train to do these mission trips,” said Steffan Carr.
Steffan Carr said Millbrook Baptist Church was the catalyst for the beginning of the Bruce Outreach Center. He said Millbrook Baptist was the first church to support the Center financially and spiritually. “We were a young, poor church,” he said. The Center occupies 70 percent of the old Bruce High School. “We took what used to be a thriving part of the community and turned it in to an outreach center.” The church has 180 members in a town of 2,000 people.
He said God has blessed the partnership between the Center and Millbrook Baptist Church. “This first started as a one-time project,” he said. “Somewhere along the line we realized that it was meant to be a continuing focused week of missions rather than a one-time event.”
River Region News
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