WHITEWRIGHT?It’s the people, especially the children, who keep drawing Bill and Bettye Roberts to the unforgiving and seemingly inhospitable desert climes of the Southwest and to the citizens of the Navajo tribe.
And it is the Roberts’ love and devotion to those people that earned the North Texas couple the honor of Mission Service Corps Missionaries of the Year during the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s annual meeting in November.
What began as yet another mission trip seven years ago has evolved into a ministry drawing from resources that, the Roberts admit, come from God. “It’s just amazing,” Bill Roberts said. “We just sit back and watch God work.”
It’s been more than once that God’s provision has thrilled the couple from Whitewright, an hour north of Dallas. Each mission trip to the Navajo lands of New Mexico, Utah and Arizona gives the Roberts new perspective on the needs of the people there. And with each need God puts on their hearts to provide for the Navajo, they said, God brings someone across their path to meet the need.
That is how their ministry has grown from a one-time trip with 28 volunteers from their own church, First Baptist Church of Howe, to multiple trips a year with support from churches across the South. The Roberts are commissioned through the North American Mission Board and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, which work together to coordinate the volunteer ministry of MSC missionaries.
“Each year we go we get a blessing,” Bill Roberts said. “It just kind of grows on you.”
With help from their growing list of volunteers and donors, the Roberts have delivered bikes, quilts, Bibles in the Navajo language, food, coats, and all of the hugs and snacks common to Southern Baptist churches’ Vacation Bible Schools.
There are so many people who have so little, Bettye Roberts said. “That’s why we take them Jesus.”
They have taken Jesus these past six years in the form of VBS and school supply drives each summer and Christmas parties each December. This last trip, taken the first week of December, gave those involved one of the most emotional experiences in all their years of ministry, Bettye said.
She told how she recruited the labor of a quilting group in Canyon, Texas, in the Panhandle. The women, she said, make quilts for charity. The women made 150 quilts for distribution among the Navajo.
Bettye said the gifts were to be given to the parents of children who attend the annual Christmas parties. But a young girl, who Bettye estimated to be 11 or 12 years old, asked to exchange her toys for a quilt. Choking back tears as she told the story, Bettye recalled the girl saying, “I get so cold at night.”
That moment brought to the fore the desperate need of many of the people and the blessing of being able to provide for them, even if only one at a time, she said.
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