By Brian Blackwell, Message staff writer
NEW ORLEANS (LBM) – Louisiana Baptists recently hosted backpack giveaway events that planted Gospel seeds in families prior to the start of the new school year.
Several ministries and churches teamed up, July 30, to distribute both 1,750 backpacks that were filled with school supplies and 500 bags of hygiene items at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Additionally, a Louisiana Baptist Disaster Relief feeding unit from First Baptist Church, Slidell, and SEND Relief provided more than 800 meals; the Baptist Community Health Services administered free health screenings to 49 families; and the LSU School of Dentistry administered dental care to 46 families.
The event was sponsored by Lakeshore Church, SEND Relief and Infinite Blessings (a non-profit organization that serves the schools, food banks, shelters and clinics in the city).
Joshua Durnell, worship pastor at Lakeshore Church and a SEND Relief missionary, said mission teams from Northbrook Baptist Church and Temple Baptist Church, Cullman, Ala., and Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, Lexington, Ky., filled the backpacks at the church. Fifty members from Lakeshore Church later moved the backpacks to NOBTS and served as greeters and manned the cotton candy, snow cone and backpack giveaway stations.
Durnell said he was blessed by the show of unity among Christ’s followers.
“I loved seeing the camaraderie among our members as we were able to come together and serve our neighborhood,” he said. “We were able to meet a real need, have engaging conversations with neighbors we otherwise wouldn’t have met, and encourage one another in joy in serving through both the heat and the rain, as we had more than 100-degree heat index temperatures and rain in the last two hours of the event.”
Bruce Efferson, the blue hat for the LBDR feeding team, said they came away blessed with numerous opportunities to share Jesus with the families who were served hamburgers, hot dogs and chips.
“You can’t beat doing something that God has called you to do, which is to serve others at events like this,” he said. “While we had so many good conversations, a memorable one was with a lady who said she was a Christian but wasn’t attending church. I talked to her about the necessity about meeting with other Christians and hope she took to heart the need to do just that. All of the people like her seemed so appreciative and allowed us to be blessed.”
LBDR Strategist Stan Statham added: “Brother Bruce and his feeding team are always ready to serve. I’m grateful to have them as part of our DR family.”
For their part, Trinity Baptist Church, Oakdale, Aug. 10, gave away 40 backpacks to students at the local middle school. The church purchased the school supplies and then placed them inside backpacks that were provided by SEND Relief.
Statham, who is interim pastor at Trinity Baptist, said teachers at the school were grateful for the kindness shown by the church. Members also prayed with some of the teachers when they delivered the backpacks.
“The members of Trinity Baptist wanted to demonstrate the love of Christ to the community,” he said. “Providing school supplies to children in our community was a practical way to show love as we met a real need.”
SATSUMA BAPTIST, LIVINGSTON
Twenty-four members of Satsuma Baptist Church, Livingston, partnered with several organizations, July 30, to distribute 200 backpacks filled with school supplies. They also served a jambalaya lunch and snow cones, distributed school uniform pants and helped children play safely on party inflatables.
Assisting Satsuma Baptist were members of the Livingston Parish Fire Protection District No. 5, Acadian Ambulance, Livingston Parish Public Schools, DEMCO electric utility company, Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Satsuma Parish Library and My Community Cares (a non-profit organization that strives to keep families together).
Satsuma Missions and Ministry Committee member Debbie Brock said the community was able to see Jesus at work throughout the event.
“We were on a spiritual high for a week after it ended,” Brock said. “We had prayed beforehand the Lord would use that event to serve our community and make a lasting impact on many of them.”