Hundreds of Volunteers Touch Communities
The impact of 21 churches sending out nearly 1,200 volunteers to work in their communities in a single day is almost impossible to measure. Yet that very event took place on Saturday, April 19, here in the Sandhills region as local Southern Baptist churches sponsored a mass effort to help others.
The official name of the event was "Operation Inasmuch." The title comes from a verse in the Bible, Matthew 25:40, in which Jesus says his followers will be known by the way they reach out to help those who cannot return the favor. "Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these, my brothers, you have done it to me."
Baptist churches from Robbins to Lemon Springs, from West End to Ashley Heights, and from Seven Lakes to Harnett County sent out teams of members and neighbors to perform a multitude of tasks, all in the name of Jesus Christ and community concern. These local churches joined nearly 1,000 Baptist churches across North Carolina that day in sponsoring over 60,000 volunteers working in all 100 of the state's counties.
Local groups visited nursing homes, delivering plants, cookies, activity bags, and smiles. Public service groups such as the EMS and police stations also received visits and cookies. Other groups cleaned yards and gutters, painted houses and fixed porches. At least one home handicap ramp was built.
Preparation was started for a new school bus stop shelter to be installed in a rural community. Customers were met at a laundromat by young people carrying rolls of quarters ready to pay for their laundry to be done. "Reverse yard sales" were held at which collected materials were given away to those who came looking.
A playground was repaired for a residential ministry. Backyard Bible Clubs were held in nearby neighborhoods. One church sent teams of members to pray on site for many of the local schools while another church sent a team to the county prison.
Comments by participants praised both the opportunity to be a part of this ministry blitz and the impact it had on their churches. Nursing home staff members receiving a visit told the team bringing cookies and activity bags that they as well as the residents, would be eagerly awaiting the next visit.
A pastor commented that it had been years since he had seen his congregation so excited about a church-wide event. One participant made a simple comment in describing her experience in helping others.
"I am truly blessed," she said.
Many of the churches were looking forward to repeating the community-focused action sometime in the next six months.
"Operation Inasmuch" is now an international organization although this North Carolina event was by far the largest single day effort in the young ministry's history. Headquartered in Tennessee, the group has its own Web site and is eager to partner with any church or group of churches desiring to influence their communities with the love of God.
The Sandhills Baptist Association, of which these 21 churches are a part, hosts a Web site (www.sandhillsbaptist.org) that contains information on "Operation Inasmuch" projects, participating churches, and the link to the national organization. For more information, call 947-2238.
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