By Ashley Thompson
Special The Nashville Leader
Twelve teenagers, four adults, two vans, one UHAUL trailer, one toddler, ONE GOAL—to share the love and hope of Jesus Christ with people who needed to hear.
Although they had spent almost six months in constant prayer and preparation for this trip, the mission team from the Immanuel Baptist Church Student Ministry in Nashville still had little idea what to expect as they pulled out of the church’s parking lot in the wee hours of July 1.
The team, led by IBC youth pastor Brent Thompson, would travel across three states before reaching their final destination — Albuquerque, New Mexico — on July 3, where they met missionaries Anthony and Mary Pennington.
The Penningtons have spent about five years in Albuquerque, loving people, building relationships, and spreading the message of the Gospel to all with whom they have the opportunity. They are also the founders of the Neighborhood Mercy Church, which currently meets in their home. In a state where only 13% of the population is affiliated with any church or religion and fewer than that are Christians, the Penningtons are undeniably an anomaly.
During their week in Albuquerque, the IBC mission team worked in two locations. They spent the mornings serving at the All Nations Indian Baptist Church, where they hauled dirt and rocks to repair erosion caused in the churchyard by runoff, repaired, scraped and painted the church’s wood siding and benches, and deep-cleaned the inside of the building. The team also had the opportunity to worship with the ANIBC church family on July 5, an experience deemed a blessing by church members and mission team alike.
In the afternoons and evenings, the team went to the Vista del Sol Mobile Home Park—one of the largest in Albuquerque—where they hosted a Gospel-centered Kids’ Club for children age 4-6th grade. The 12 students were split into four teams of three to lead Bible Study, Music, Crafts, and Recreation rotations. These small teams spent countless hours during the six months prior to the trip planning, preparing, practicing, and praying over their content and presentation, and also praying for the children and families they would encounter during the week.
“I was really impressed with how smoothly things ran after we got there,” said 2015 NHS graduate and Recreation team leader Slater Wincher. “It was a great experience for me to meet some amazing kids and to see the many months of prayers answered and all the dedicated work, practice, and preparation pay off the way it did. It was just a blessing to be allowed to do it.”
Despite the surprise of daily afternoon showers in the midst of the desert, the Kids’ Club reached many children in the community, with the attendance growing each day. Before the end of the week, the team had seen several children accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, with many others receiving their first Bible and hearing the message of the Gospel for the first time.
Bible Study team leader and 2015 NHS graduate Brooke Bowden said, “The most fulfilling part of doing Kids’ Club was getting to share the love of Jesus with all the kids.” And it was that love the brought the children back each night to sing, dance, play, and learn more about Jesus.
As the evening sun cast its glow on the Sandia Mountains and they blazed their signature watermelon pink, the team members wrapped their final day of Kids’ Club with both joy and sadness—joy for the lives God had changed—both others’ and their own—and the unforgettable memories that had been made, and sadness that there was not more time to spend with the children they had come to love so deeply.
“Getting to see how easily others can become as excited as we are for Christ really made me have a completely different view on missions,” said rising NHS junior McKenzie Morphew, “And now I’m looking forward to getting to share Jesus’ story with many more people!”
Youth mission team overcomes adversity on Albuquerque trip
By Kailee Stinnett
Mission Albuquerque was incredible! Our God is so great that He gave 12 students, four adults, and 1 super-cute baby the finances, ability, and willingness to go spread His Word and His love to people who desperately needed it. Our mission trip had a few mishaps, courtesy of the Devil. Thankfully we, because of God, we able to overcome flat tires, sickness, and almost-daily rain.
The most important part of this trip wasn’t the excitement of the road trip or the pit stops we took (although they were totally awesome), or even the heart-to-hearts we had with each other; the single most important part of this trip—this mission trip—was that kids and their families go to hear about God and what He did for us by sending His Son to die for our sins.
Three children were saved on our fourth night of Kids’ Club at the Vista del Sol mobile home park in Albuquerque. The hard work and determination that we put forth over the last five months had paid off; whether we had one kid or 100 kids that night, three now know Jesus Christ and many, many seeds of truth have been planted in hearts.
I am so blessed to have been able to go on this mission trip, and I am even more grateful to have had the opportunity to serve our Lord with such a great team.
Mission journey an ‘unforgettable’ experience
By Leslie Lingo
We left for Albuquerque, New Mexico July 1. We drove and drove and drove for hours that seemed like they would never end. One of our stops along the way was in Canyon, Texas, where we took a Jeep tour all the way down into Palo Duro Canyon. That was an unforgettable experience!
During our last leg of the journey to Albuquerque, the devil tried to get at us with van trouble. But the “trouble” turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We thought we had one bad tire on the van, but it turned out that all four van tires were bad and ready to blow at any time, as well as one of the tires on the U-Haul. Fortunately, God had already led us to a service station that partnered with U-Haul, so they were able to fix us up and send us on our way.
When we finally reached our destination, we did an awesome trolley tour in the heart of Albuquerque. We met with our missionaries the same night and they showed us the church we would be working on and the mobile home park where we would have Kids’ Club (outdoor Vacation Bible School).
July 5 we started Kids’ Club and the first night went very smoothly. There was never a doubt in my mind that God was present. The next morning, we started working on All Nations Indian Baptist Church. We scraped paint, primed and repainted walls, trimming, and rails. We moved lots of rocks and dirt to help stop erosion. We replaced rotted wood and cleaned the inside of the church. It was not an easy task, but God gave us the strength and right attitudes each morning.
The second night of Kids’ Club I met a little boy named Matthew whom God was about to use to rock my world. God revealed to me through him how I should be more appreciative and live a life full of gratitude. He also showed me the reality of how I should treat everyone with compassion because I don’t know what they are going through.
The fourth night of Kids’ Club, two sisters and their brother were saved. On the last night, the devil threw us another curveball, but we persevered. It stormed for an hour before Kids’ Club and continued raining through the entire evening. At the end of our time with the kids, Matthew and I cried together for a while before I had to walk him home for the last time.
The next day was much happier. We went to Carlsbad Caverns and it was breathtaking. We got to watch thousands of bats leave the cavern that night, and I was just in awe. A couple days later we made it back to Nashville.
I was so glad to be home, but I was already looking forward to next year’s mission trip!