RAPID CITY, South Dakota ? Two thousand miles, 44 hours on the road, 12 salvations, seven Backyard Bible Clubs, three Vacation Bible Schools, and two revivals?all recently accomplished while on a one-week mission trip to South Dakota. As a part of a partnership to reach communities throughout the Black Hills, Fannin Baptist Association led a team of Texas churches in a mission trip to the Black Hills Area Baptist Association in Rapid City, South Dakota in late July.
The preparations for the mission trip began one year ago with the purpose of sharing the gospel with a cosmopolitan community comprised of a mixture of religions including Catholic, New Age and Mormon. Approximately 122 leaders and lay people from churches in Fannin Baptist Association (FBA) gathered to take the gospel to the Black Hills. Activities included Bible studies, a youth rally, a block party, and building repairs.
The churches of FBA ministered and served through the 19 churches and two rescue missions of the Black Hills Area Baptist Association. “From the beginning, we made our primary goal to be faithful in fulfilling the Great Commission. In our preparation, we became personally involved and made it our obsession to share Christ with everyone,” said Jerry Christopher, director of missions for FBA. “We wanted to light a match in the hearts of lost people in the Black Hills communities, and furthermore throw logs onto the fires already burning in the hearts of members in their association of churches.”
Throughout the week, those on mission visited homes, city parks, the rescue mission, churches, mobile home parks, and apartment complexes. Members of FBA were housed in five different churches throughout Rapid City communities lodging in sanctuaries, fellowship halls, and classrooms.
Some of the churches affiliated with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention that participated in the associational effort included Boyd Baptist Church in Bonham, Elwood Baptist Church in Ivanhoe and First Baptist Church of Savoy.
First Baptist Church, in Savoy took 16 people from their church leading in Vacation Bible School, two Backyard Bible Clubs, the Rescue Mission, and construction work. FBC Savoy mission team members helped pour concrete pillars for a small church and manned their VBS. The church they helped had a low attendance rate, usually seeing only the same three people each Sunday.
Travis Reynolds, youth minister at Savoy said he was deeply impacted by the amount of faith and the effort of the three church members in keeping their church running.
“I take for granted living in the Bible Belt and was amazed that they did the job that takes 200 people here to do,” Reynolds said. “They were so excited that we came in and brought kids in off the streets. We started out with 11 kids the first day, and finished with 18. After following up with one of the adults, they expressed their excitement over the fact that the kids that attended Vacation Bible School the week we were there had brought their families to church the next Sunday.”
Reynolds said, “The most touching time at Vacation Bible School was when I saw two of our 7th grade girls leading a little girl who had been asking questions all week to [faith in] Christ. It was such a blessing to witness youth that young stepping up and sharing their faith. The students from FBC Savoy came back to our town fired up and ready to serve in any area they could.”
Bill Thornton, FBA coordinator for the trip, said, “We were there to serve. Our main goal was to partner in strengthening the churches in that area. All ages were on the trip. One 79-year-old man called me and asked if he was too old to join us. I said, ‘As long as you’re living?you’re never too old to serve God.'”
Many on the trip shared the love of Christ simply by acting out his love. Sandy Petree, member of First Baptist Church in Savoy, served in the Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter in Rapid City. While at the Rescue Mission, Petree shared God’s love with a second grade Native American boy, Gordon Little Eagle.
“I was so impressed at his interest in the Bible and how he listened intently to the Bible studies,” said Petree. “I was blessed by him and the fact that I was able to plant a seed in his life.”
The FBA mission team was the first to visit the Black Hills Area Baptist Association for mission work.
Garvon Golden, director of missions for the Black Hills Area Baptist Association, said, “The groups from FBA spanned out among several of our churches to coordinate activities in various areas. Some of the activities had not been publicized, but the groups put their best foot forward in getting people to come. They went door-to-door passing out literature and Bibles. Every church involved with the FBA mission team experienced an increase in community attendance by the end of the week.”