Day of Service: NAMB gives back to community

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) -- The phrase "Whatever it takes" is one of the North American Mission Board's operating values. Staff members are reminded that the mission agency exists to serve Southern Baptists and Southern Baptist churches. Giving back to the community in service was a tangible demonstration of this value as staff participated Dec. 12 in the annual NAMB Day of Service.

Staff from the NAMB's Alpharetta, Ga., office joined local ministries in a variety of service activities at Peace Baptist Church of Decatur, Clarkston International Bible Church in Clarkston and No Longer Bound of Cumming.

Nearly 300 cars pulled into the parking lot at Peace Baptist Church, some as many as four hours early, to receive food from the Peace on the Move ministry. But as they were waiting in line, it became apparent to some of the volunteers that many of those gathered had much greater needs than just a meal.

"As I was talking to the families, I could see looks of hopelessness on their faces," said Lebron Pinkerton, NAMB's wellness consultant, who volunteered as a greeter. "But as I stood and watched them leave the church, their whole demeanor changed. They looked hopeful again."

Justin Woelk, an events consultant at NAMB, also served with Peace on the Move and helped distribute food to the families that drove to the church.

"I think the biggest thing I took away from the day of service is that God is always present … whether it is in a warm house, a filled church or a parking lot on a freezing Friday morning," Woelk said. "I was reminded on Friday that we weren't taking Jesus to Decatur, but we were getting involved with what He is already doing in Decatur."

Scott Blair, a videographer with NAMB, who served with staff at the addiction recovery ministry, No Longer Bound, said the service project cast light on the needs that exist in the community.

"It was an eye-opening experience -- in part because many of the clients were really young," Blair said. "I was blessed to not face the kinds of challenges some of these young men and women face with life issues and drug addiction. It was a good experience to meet them and see the priceless opportunity they have, not only from the recovery standpoint, but to have the ability to receive job skill training to help them find meaningful work. Another thing that surprised me is that many of the clients are there by choice. More than one made the point to say they were not there because of some court order, but because they chose to be."

Cathy Palmer, director of the Refugee Sewing Society, was overwhelmed by the transformation of the sewing rooms and retail store housed at Clarkston International Bible Church. NAMB staff replaced lighting units, ceiling tiles, painted and sorted buttons and other sewing supplies.

"It may not seem like a big thing," said Palmer, a NAMB missionary, "but it makes a huge difference in what our women can accomplish because they will be able to see their work. It will make a difference in our store where people will be able to better see the crafts our women make. It was wonderful to feel the presence and support of the staff and to make connections with people who will volunteer to help us meet other needs. It was awesome."

Palmer said the women and staff were so impressed with the change that they planned a picnic lunch in the sewing room on Monday to celebrate.

NAMB president Kevin Ezell said, "As we help churches conduct mercy ministries, experiences like this are very valuable. We want our staff to get out of the building and onto the ministry field -- especially at this time of year."

NAMB writer Kristen Camp contributed to this article.
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