During the months of July and August, Marshall Baptist Church is taking the command given in Acts 1:8, "...ye shall be my witnesses...to the ends of the earth," literally. Individual members of the church are taking different mission trips, totaling more than 114,420 miles.
"We didn't just sit down one day and say 'let's do Acts 1:8.'... Every time I think about it, it just amazes me ... to see what God is doing through a small church in Thomson," said Bruce Poss, Music and Youth minister. "This church has always been a very mission-minded church."
The first group, Pastor John Prater, Alyssa Prater, Kym Snyder, and Rick Salley traveled from July 15-28 to Mali, West Africa to minister with several Southern Baptist missionaries.
Brenda and Kelly Prater also traveled July 15-28. They went to Jos, Nigeria to help a Serving In Mission's missionary doctor at Evangel Hospital, where 22 percent of the patients treated have HIV disease, and one half of all young children are malnourished.
The third group that traveled from Marshall was Sandra, Carol, and Cameron Poss, Dana Long, Kathy Drew and Henrietta Nowill, who did Vacation Bible School in Matoka, West Virginia, July 16-23. Helen and Willard Jones went to War, West Virginia to repair homes.
On Monday, July 25, Rev. Poss left for Medan, Indonesia as part of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief to help recovery efforts of the recent Tsunami and earthquake damage.
"I'm not looking forward to the travel on my part," said Rev. Poss. "With the layovers and all, it'll be 36 hours that I'll be traveling."
Two young adults from Marshall, Matt Jones and Kylee Robinette will leave in August to volunteer for Mercy Ships in South Africa. Mercy Ships is a global charity with a fleet of hospital ships on which are performed free medical services for the poor in third-world countries.
Mr. Jones will be "doing basic repair-type stuff, welding, carpentry repair, and year-round maintenance in the shipyard." Miss Robinette will spend two years as a leader of a Bible study class and prayer group.
"I was planning to go to Berry College, my tuition was all paid. But I felt God wanted me to do this instead, so I gave up my paid college tuition and am currently raising monies to volunteer with Mercy Ship," Miss Robinette said.
Mr. Jones doesn't know how long he will be serving with Mercy Ships. His first assignment is one month, but he said he hopes to stay much longer if needed. Mr. Jones agrees with Rev. Poss that the mission trips are a miracle, but he isn't amazed.
"I felt the Lord was calling me to do some mission work. ...Three or four years ago we never would have expected any of us to go around the world, like to Africa. ... I guess we feel 'why not? why can't we do that?'... I don't feel I'm doing anything special. ... I'm sacrificing, I mean I live in America and I'm giving that up to help other people, but I'm not any more deserving. I mean I was born in the United States, but I'm not better than anybody who was born in Africa or anywhere else," he said.