Northside mission team takes message across the ocean

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Mission trips are much like potato chips. One's never enough - at least not, for the mission team at Northside Baptist Church in Troy.

"As soon as we get back from one mission trip, we start looking forward to the next one," said Ramona Dunn.

The mission team of eight returned from England June 12, after spending 12 days on the mission field there.

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The team was called to Roomfield Baptist Church in Todmorden in Northern England to minister to the needs of the church and to the community.

"Todmorden is in an area of England that has not been touched by civilization," Dunn said. "It's almost just as it was 100 years ago. It is absolutely beautiful."

The group was often reminded that the Brits are very reserved people and that they should not be surprised if they had difficulty getting to know them.

"But, from the minute we arrived, it was like we had known each other for years," Dunn said. "A lot of prayer had gone into our preparation to go and probably theirs to receive us."

Roomfield Baptist Church, like many churches in England, has experienced a recent decline in membership.

"The people of England have become very cynical about religion," said Clifford Matthews, pastor of Northside Baptist. "Church membership is going downhill steadily. Churches that once had large memberships now have only a handful. One church has gone from 900 members to 70. Roomfield had 20 members but only nine of them were active and they were all women."

Matthews said many of the people they encountered were not optimistic about life and seemed to have little hope.

"Our message to them was that, with God, they could have hope," he said.

The Northside pastor was invited to share the gospel at an open service at the church.

"After Cliff's message he gave an invitation and people responded," Dunn said. "It was if they had an awakening to God's love, mercy and grace."

Other members of the mission team also had opportunities to share the Good News with the people of this untouched corner of God's world.

The mission team approached "religion" in a different way from the norm in England.

"In England, churches concentrate more on their history than on sharing the word," Dunn said. "We wanted to share His message with them and we wanted to do so in a way they would remember."

The team conducted two Holiday Clubs for the young people of Todmorden.

"A holiday club is like Bible School," said Dunn. "At Vail Baptist Church we had 12 children to attend, but at Roomfield we only had four, but after it was over, one little girl came up and said, 'God is our Creator. He made you and he made me.' She went away knowing about God and his love for her."

The team also went on Prayer Walks and knocked on doors hoping to share their message of God's love.

"Some of the people said they had no time for us, others said they didn't believe in God and one even slammed the door in my face," said Brenna Byrd. "But many of them listened and some of them even came to a service. So, I felt good about what we did."

The group visited an Acorn Center for young people and the National School

The youth center was run by non-Christians and was supported by the government.

"The purpose of the center was to take young people off the streets," Matthews said. "Those who came were a mix of Christians and non-Christians. We had a chance to see how it operated and why."

At the National School, the mission team performed a skit for about 240 students.

"They were very attentive and seemed to respond to the message we shared" Dunn said. "Although the school was a public school, it was supported partly by the government and partly by the Anglican Church."

The group attended a Barn Dance at the Roomfield Church and enjoyed a do-si-do and heard the testimonies of several of those who attended. They also participated in a street side barbecue - with hamburgers - that was designed to bring people into the fellowship of the church.

They also visited the Market and took a side trip into London where they saw all the tourist sites and some out of the way places.

When it was time to leave, there were more than a few tears shed by people from both sides of the ocean.

"We were sad to leave but we came home believing that the message we carried had made a difference in the lives of those we met and ministered to," Matthews said. "You never know the full impact of what you say and do. But, we know this trip made a difference in our lives and we are looking forward to another call."