Archive for September, 2012

Photos provided by Win Grant.

ONE Sunday, September 9, 2012, united the FBC church family after the summer break. A prayer service for our church, community and nation at 8:30, Sunday school at 9:45, and worship at 11:00 a.m. brought everyone to the same place, at the same time, for the same purpose. That purpose – the kick off of FBC’s year-long, every-member mission project – KOH2RVA. Dinner and fellowship on the grounds celebrated the first day of our journey together.

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By Shannon Harton. Photos by David Powers.

When Christ referred to “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40), it’s easy to imagine that He had in mind humble, beneath-the-radar people like the Mixteco migrants who live among us in Richmond, Virginia.

calloutOver the past 15 years more than 1,000 Mixtecos left their native home in an impoverished, mountainous section of the Pacific-coast Mexican state of Guerrero. They travelled some 2,500 miles by whatever means available to reach Richmond, where most put down stakes in a mobile home park along Jefferson Davis Highway.

According to Mary Willis, daughter of First Baptist member and former missionary gift deliveryLaVora Sprinkle, these meek and modest people aren’t here to receive handouts. They’ve come to give their children a chance for a better life than was available in Mexico. Mary says they are “some of the hardest working, giving families you’ll ever meet” and stay very busy doing “work that North Americans simply won’t do,” including outdoor labor, low-paying landscaping jobs and work at recycling centers.

With Mary’s coordination and the personal relationships she has developed over the last few years, FBC has faithfully supplied school clothes and materials, Christmas gifts, and books for dozens of Mixteco children. The church also secured some heating and air conditioning units for their mobile homes, arranged for minor repairs that made the homes habitable, and provided transportation to doctors’ offices that are not easily accessible by bus.

Mixteco childrenDespite the living conditions, identifying needs among these quiet families is one of the biggest challenges, Mary says. “They hardly ever ask for anything—I have to almost pry to find out what they need.” Combine that modesty with a nearly insurmountable communication barrier—most local Mixtecos only speak their indigenous Mexican language that has nothing in common with Spanish—and it might seem this group is destined for invisibility.

However, educational opportunities for Mixteco children are bright spots in their families’ lives. Many of the children spend their summer mornings in intensive ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. Their growing language skills enable them to act as translators for their parents during daily tasks such as grocery trips and healthcare appointments.

With this new school year, the needs for clothes and supplies arise. FBC is committed to continue its support of these children and their families. For information on participating in this ministry, contact Steve Blanchard, Associate Pastor, Ministry of Compassion.

See related story: Church Staff helps put God’s love in action at Christmas.

Shannon Harton
Shannon Harton
Shannon is married to Heather and father to three year-old Maggie Rose who makes every day even more fun than the last. He worked in advertising for over a decade before starting his real estate career in a role with the Walt Disney World Company, and has spent the last 10 years happily selling residential real estate here in Richmond. He is currently leading the New Beginnings class at FBC always looking forward to the next trip down to visit Disney World with his family of Mousketeers.

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