Apartment ministry a ‘candle in darkness,’ Corpus Christi woman says

CORPUS CHRISTI?Carolyn Gallman is a testament to the value of showing up. Seventeen years ago Gallman volunteered?with 50 other people?to begin weekly ministry at an apartment complex near her church, Annaville Baptist in Corpus Christi. When the first training session came, not everyone who volunteered showed. As the weeks past, the faithful number became a handful, including Gallman and her children.

“After about a year, everybody who was actually working in it moved away. It was just me and my children,” Gallman recalled of the Sundays at the low-income apartment complex where the Gallmans conducted a mobile Sunday School. “God showed me that he didn’t want me to leave.

For a while I thought, ‘I’m just a helper. Maybe I should leave.’ We were meeting outside. ? We went through mosquitoes, the wind blowing, rain. And then in the wintertime we would make it through. At least a couple of years, we didn’t miss a Sunday.

“I told my children that when it’s cold and rainy you’d think no kids would be out. But I told them we would at least go by the apartments and see if the kids were out. You know, [the kids] would be huddled over there where the mailboxes were. So we would stand there and have our lesson like that.”

Discouraged, Gallman almost quit, she said. She didn’t consider herself a very good Bible teacher or storyteller. But then she heard someone singing “Candle in the Dark” after returning to her church one Sunday and it seemed clear to her that God was telling her to continue, she said.

“I never questioned it after that that he wanted me there,” she recalled. “I truly believe in multi-housing or apartment ministry. We’re out there with the people and it’s so dark out there. And we’re a candle in the dark.”

Today, Gallman is the multi-housing ministry consultant to Corpus Christi Baptist Association, helping others see the potential of ministering to the reported 50 percent of Texans who dwell in multi-housing structures. Of those, 96 percent are reportedly unchurched.

The week the TEXAN interviewed Gallman, seven people prayed to accept Christ on Sunday at an apartment complex where Annaville Baptist Church ministers, and another 11 were saved at a Thursday night meeting Gallman helps lead at a trailer park.

At the trailer park, volunteers help with cooking classes, crafts and devotionals for adults in addition to children’s activities.

“When they walk in the room they just sit down and start at the craft ? and after everybody gets there we start our singing with sign language and after that we have a Bible story. Sometimes it’s on flannel board, and sometimes we have illustrations of Bible verses.”

Gallman said she uses the bridge illustration to show the children that Jesus bridges the wide separation between God and man caused by sin. “I think that helps kids understand it very well,” Gallman said. “Sometimes we pray the sinner’s prayer after that.”

If nothing else it plants seeds and gets kids in the habit of attending church, Gallman said.

“I have kids who come and they consider themselves churchgoers. When they grow up they do go to church.”

Six people are involved in multi-housing ministry at Annaville Baptist, and several other churches in the Corpus Christi area are starting such ministries.

“It’s my idea that every church should have an apartment ministry as one of the basis mission structures of the church. Then they can go out and practice what they’ve learned. Also, I believe it helps prepare foreign missionaries.”

For more information on multi-housing ministry, call the SBTC missions office at 817-552-2500 or toll free 877-953-7282.

TEXAN Correspondent
Jerry Pierce
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