Howard's Creek Baptist Church youth group offers different perspective
by Sherrie Norris
Some folks have all the luck, right?
That's a true statement, but not for the reasons you may be thinking.
The pictures the youngsters and their leaders bring home every year might include some blue sky and a little bit of sand, but that's about where the vacation part of their trip ends.
They aren't cruising to the islands and they're not anticipating all-you-can-eat midnight buffets and hours lounging by the crystal-clear water for hours on end.
What they are doing is returning to the native people they've served for four years through a mission opportunity with Karazim Ministries — to not only present the gospel of Jesus Christ to them, but to also attempt to improve the quality and standards of their deplorable living conditions.
While the Bahamas offer some of God's greatest scenic beauty, said Joe London, minister of youth at Howard's Creek Baptist, going there on a mission trip lends itself to a “totally different experience.”
On the opposite side of the colorful brochures could easily be the pictures London's group takes every year, depicting scenes from some of the most impoverished lifestyles and unfit living conditions in the world — and the people therein, with little or no hope for the future.
It's a place, London says, where families face high unemployment, substance abuse and devastating effects of almost annual hurricanes.
London's group sees, firsthand, the deplorable conditions in which many families are forced to live. They work with the children who are malnourished, frequently barefoot and with rotting teeth from lack of dental care.
It's a shock to many who go for the first time, he said.
“The Bahamians are a people in desperate need of the love and saving power of Jesus Christ,” he said. “In the past, our teams have ministered through back yard Bible clubs and have done light construction such as painting, roofing and flooring. We've done general clean-up, planting of gardens, sorting supplies and we've also worked on the Karazim facilities. We've tried to encourage families by simply showing them the love of Christ.”
The team will be returning to the islands next week.
“We are going back to the same village and helping the same family that we worked with last year,” London said. “There are three adults and four children living in a house that has two bedrooms and a kitchen. They have no water or bathrooms in the house, electricity only in a couple of rooms and no windows or flooring in most of the house. The roof also leaked and all the bedding had been wet and damaged.”
This year, London said, his team hopes to provide the family with water and a bathroom.
“We also plan to teach the children through back yard Bible studies and crafts,” he said. “Our goal, though it all, is to represent and introduce Christ to the people of this village.”
The group of 23 representing Howard's Creek Baptist Church on this upcoming mission trip consists mainly of students who have been trying to raise their own money. The cost is approximately $1,100 per person, which includes airfare, food, lodging, transportation and ministry materials.
Each team member is responsible for raising funds to help cover the costs, but unexpected needs always arise in these situations.
Anyone wishing to help with this ministry may send tax-deductible donations to Howard's Creek Baptist Church; designated to Youth Missions, 240 Howard's Creek Church Road, Boone, NC 28607.
Above all else, London and his group request prayers for their safety, that all will be prepared — both physically and spiritually, that all needs will be met and most of all, that many of the people they are going to serve will come to know Christ through this endeavor.