Missionaries present global work

Published 11:03 am Thursday, September 4, 2008

Reaching out to non-believers doesn’t always mean preaching over a crowd with a Bible in hand. For Linda Dillworth, a missionary supported by the Shelby Baptist Association, it meant providing basic medical care and health education to farmers in the Philippines.

“We taught them about hygiene, basic nutrition, food safety and sanitation, home remedies for things like diarrhea and also promoted immunizations,” Dillworth said. “I think it’s important to live with people so they can see that Christ likeness lived out in someone’s life.”

She said providing people with basic needs creates relationships. The goal, she said, is to build those relationships long enough for people to see the change God is making in their lives.

More than 50 missionaries like Dillworth plan to speak at member churches across Shelby County this weekend as part of the Shelby Baptist Association’s On Mission event. The event will also include a missions rally Saturday at Columbiana First Baptist to showcase all of the missionaries.

SBA director Dr. Hugh Richardson said the organization holds the event every five years so the community can learn more about the work they support.

“We want to raise awareness of missions and see if God can call out others to volunteer to serve here locally or through one of our churches that goes overseas,” Richardson said. “This is a concentrated weekend where missionaries can display the work they are doing.”

Alan Murphy, pastor of North Shelby Baptist Church, is the event chair this year.

He explained that the Southern Baptist Convention has four levels of mission work that will be highlighted: foreign missions, national or North American missions, college campus ministries across the state and projects within individual counties.

“We want to give a report to thank those who give and to encourage continued giving,” Murphy said. “The third level is to let us all know what we can do to volunteer, and we usually see two to three during the weekend who actually do commit to serving as missionaries.”

Dillworth said even though thousands of people participate in mission work millions still have not been reached. She said four percent of the 89 million people in the Philippines remain unreached, leaving a lot of work to be done. But she said not everyone is called to go overseas.

“Everyone can have a part in missions work,” Dillworth said. “Some are called to go, some are given the heavy burden of staying behind and protecting the missionaries through prayer. It’s prayer that keeps us there.”

Murphy said many missionaries focus on overseas missions but in recent years, needs here at home have grabbed attention as well. He said others construct homes for Builders for Christ, host worship services for Vietnamese and Hispanic members of the community and provide food and clothing to the less fortunate.