LANSING, MI – Michigan Baptist churches have been sending mission teams to minister at home and aboard for decades. Unfortunately, many of these teams lacked representation from the African-American community. Today, we praise God that this no longer true. The Michigan African American Fellowship, a group of African-American Churches sent their first mission team to St. Croix earlier this year. The team was made up of individuals from various churches and was multi-generational. They were on mission for seven-days, serving others who were in need.
Kamyra Thomas, a student from Michigan State University was part the team. She says, “Being my first mission trip, and being able to share Jesus Christ was truly awesome and a life changing experience for me.” Kamyra has already signed up to go back to St. Croix in 2018. The mission team provided ministry in the form of backyard Bible clubs, sports, face painting and skits at the Harbourview Housing Complex. Harbourview is one of the largest housing complexes on the island. The children and adults who live there opened their arms and welcomed the team with smiles and love. The residents were happy to see visitors who looked like them.
Prior to leaving for St. Croix the team was provided with mission training. The training helped the team understand the Island’s needs, and how the culture, while similar, is different from the United States. Upon arrival the team was hosted by Missionary, John Smith, a native from Pontiac, Michigan, and a North American Mission Board (NAMB) church planter. Pastor Smith is the only Southern Baptist church active on St. Croix Island. Serving with Pastor Smith was indeed a joy as the team was able to help him with planting Shepherd Fold Church, while also serving the residents at Harbourview housing complex.
The mission trip became a reality due to several Fifth Sunday Fellowship Services which are sponsored by the Fellowship. The churches were challenged by the Fellowship President, Dr. Stan Parker, to become more involved with missions. Parker and Faith Fellowship Baptist Church have been involved in mission field ministry for more than twenty years. He brought his hunger for mission work to the African American Fellowship, and they answered the call. The recent trip to St. Croix provided spiritual growth for all who were part of the team, and has served to wet the appetite for others. Therefore, the Michigan African American Fellowship is making plans to return in August of 2018.
The Fifth Sunday Fellowship services also provide for training and great preaching. The Fellowship hosted a Pastor Shift Conference in April, and Pastor Mark Croston was the keynote speaker. There were seminars of evangelism, financial stewardship, missions, and a special session for pastor’s wives. Parker says, “Those who attended left with a strong urgency to be part of what God is doing in Michigan as we work together to stamp out darkness in our state.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Stan Parker serves as senior pastor for the Faith Fellowship Baptist Church of Lansing, MI. He has a passion for communicating the Gospel with people of all races and in every corner of our world.