By Grace Thornton
The congregation of First Baptist Church, Natchez, has always been a people interested in missions — international, local, across the country and across the street. But for the last little while, it’s been more specific. It’s been a three-and-a-half-hour drive, eastward toward I-55, then down south to I-12, then 10 and on across into Waveland.
There, they’ve been helping an established church like themselves reinvent itself after Hurricane Katrina scattered the former congregation of First Baptist Waveland and damaged the building. Kenneth Moss of the church’s missions committee says it’s gotten to be a familiar drive for the church — not to mention a meaningful one.
At the new church — West Bay Community Church — the people of FBC Natchez have done repairs and construction, funded a playground, thrown a block party and done outreach in the community.
“It’s made a real impact on our folks and makes them want to go do it again either there or somewhere else,” Moss said.
The two churches got connected through the Church Planting Department at the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board. FBC Natchez has a “good number of folks” interested in construction work, and that made West Bay Community Church a great fit for the church when it sought a nearby missions project, Moss said.
“We’ve gotten a lot of painting done, and got the sanctuary building inside and outside in pretty good shape,” he said.
And the Waveland congregation appreciates it that they come, according to West Bay’s pastor, Brian Bridges. After a block party that FBC Natchez helped with, West Bay saw quick growth in the number of young people who were coming.
“It’s a double blessing. They’ve blessed us tremendously by redoing our flooring in the sanctuary, painting the walls, and providing us a playground. We’ve gotten to learn from the wisdom their folks bring with them. But I think we’ve also been a blessing to them because they get to see a young church doing ministry for the Lord,” Bridges said.
“This has been a great hands-on project for our church to do in regards to missions,” said Doug Broome, senior pastor of FBC Natchez.
Many of his church members can’t do long distance missions trips, and this church at such a short drive away met that need perfectly, Broome said. “It took away the limitations on how many could participate. It’s something everyone in our church could be a part of if they chose to do so.”
The Margaret Lackey State Mission Offering (MLSMO) has become a year-round missions endeavor involving believers in missions and reaching the lost in Mississippi. For more information about the MLSMO, visit http://www.mbcb.org/mission_strategy/missions.aspx.