Archive for August, 2013

By Lee Byerly. Photos by Susan Brown.

It’s been said, “You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”

Summer Camp at Essex VillageI received an awakening while volunteering for summer camp at Essex Village Apartments (see related story). I have lived! How? I was awakened to the reality of young children, each unique and precious, each needing a smiling face from someone who genuinely cares. I could be that face and didn’t need anything in return.

Every day of camp about 12 children knew the smiling faces and love of FBC volunteers who gave their time, talent and treasure. Several of these children are from Pakistan, Kenya and Somalia and are trying to assimilate into a new culture and way of life, while still retaining their sense of identity. This they did with great joy and anticipation every day.

Mornings were filled with one-on-one tutoring, listening to students read, working out math problems, and playing various games. Higher level thinking skills soared as Checkers became the game of choice among students who wanted to play the adults. After lunch Josie Carver led creative art projects.

In addition to art and core subjects, Steve Blanchard (FBC’s Associate Pastor with the Ministry of Compassion) helped organize field trips. We took the students to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Three Lakes Park and Nature Center, and on a historical tour of Richmond. Steve was an excellent tour guide! Each student took notes of the travels and compiled them into a short personal essay that was shared with the class.

Other outings included lunches at McDonald’s and Sweet Frog where the children found good opportunities for decision making. Those who completed their summer reading were also treated to Chick-fil-A.

That reading can continue with many wonderful books provided by First Baptist for the children and adults of Essex Village. These books and two new book shelves were presented on the last day of camp.

Many exciting moments, many small victories, such a short amount of time. That kind of success happens when there is a combined effort – children, parents, volunteers, all under the direction of Mrs. Ernestine Dockery-Roy and her husband from Seeds of Promise Outreach Ministries, Inc.

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Lee ByerlyLee Byerly and his wife, Lisa, are members of the Travelers Adult Bible Fellowship. Lee teaches tennis. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with their daughter, Rachel, fishing, camping, snowboarding, and following college sports.

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By Rebecca Ozmore. Photos by Susan Brown and Janet Chase.

When First Baptist hosted CARITAS in July 2013, we didn’t get on the KOH2RVA  bus – the bus brought Richmond to us.

Most of us are familiar with CARITAS from FBC’s tradition of hosting homeless men during Thanksgiving week. Congregations Around Richmond To Assure Shelter provides individuals overnight shelter at local churches. CARITAS was looking for additional summer hosts because it’s a difficult season for scheduling. FBC was looking for another way to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia (KOH2RVA). When we heard 40 homeless women needed shelter, we opened our doors.

FBC hosts its first women’s CARITAS.Overall, this week was not much different from the men’s week. The women arrived by bus each evening. We provided a meal, opportunity for a shower, and a place to sleep. We also provided toiletry bags with linens, shower items, and a request form for needed items including clothing.

FBC hosts its first women’s CARITAS.We scheduled activities each evening, blessing the women and giving them opportunities to bless others. There were presentations from the Fan Free Clinic and Richmond Police Department. On bingo night, one of the winners gave her prize of a cosmetic bag to another woman who had been hoping to win it. Mt. Gilead Full Gospel International Ministries led a praise and worship service on another night. Several of the women and volunteers commented that they were touched by FBC hosts its first women’s CARITAS.the service; twelve of the CARITAS women went forward at the end for prayers with the ministers.

FBC members volunteered to wash loads of laundry for the women and donate specific items, sometimes within just a few hours of an email request. One church member made 50 pillowcases, no two alike, to give each of our CARITAS guests. She attached Psalm 4:8 to the pillowcases, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe” (NLT).

FBC hosts its first women’s CARITAS.Many of the women expressed their gratitude for staying at the church and the delicious meals provided by FBC members. But perhaps their appreciation was best summed up by their reactions to receiving the items they had requested earlier in the week. Volunteer Vicky Nicholau commented, “Women cried when they opened their ‘Need Bags’ and received things they thought they would never get.”

Heaven was definitely at FBC during this week. And we didn’t have to take a bus ride to find it!

Rebecca OzmoreRebecca Ozmore is an elementary school counselor for Henrico County Public Schools. She and her husband, Gerry, helped start the Young Couples Adult Bible Fellowship of which they are still members. Rebecca and Gerry have two sons, Grant and Charley, who keep them very busy. In her spare time, Rebecca enjoys cooking, reading, writing, and being outdoors. She is a graduate of Virginia Tech and looks forward to Hokie football every fall.

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By Ann Carter. Photos by Ann Carter and Len Morrow.

I’ve had a whirlwind mission-trip season.

Youth 1 gardeningAs part of a six-week gardening class this spring with Len Morrow (see below) Youth 1 planted potatoes in a roof top garden at the former Adams Camera Store. That building is being refurbished through ReEstablish Richmond to assist refugees who have been brought to Richmond by federal programs. The youths also worked with Len to prepare gardens around FBC for planting with summer annuals.

arkansas-cardgame250pxAt the end of June, I took 16 Youth One kids and five adults to Passport Camp, an annual week-long event that focuses on discipleship and hands-on mission time. In July I led a group of 10 children and youths and 15 adults to Helena, Arkansas. This has also been an annual mission trip, where we partner with, serve and love that community.

manila-youth250pxAnd 12 of us finished up the season in July with another bit of heaven in Singapore at the Baptist Youth World Conference, followed by a mission trip to Manila, Philippines—two more weeks of bringing heaven to earth—and experiencing heaven on earth!

These times were heaven on earth for me. I know saying that seems like a stretch. Really? Digging in dirt on a roof top? A week with middle schoolers at camp? Sleeping on the floor of a church with 24 of your closest friends and showering in a trailer? Yes!!!!!

Youth 1 on missionBut let me explain!

There is something really beautiful about traveling together, living together in close quarters, working together, learning together, worshiping together, playing together, laughing together, eating together, resting together, and growing together. Emphasis on together!

At the end of each experience our love for God and our love for each other has multiplied and deepened and strengthened so that we came home longing for more time together.

Youth 1 on missionActually, what we are longing for is heaven. Because I think that is what heaven will be like: people who love God and love each other, living, worshiping, eating, fellowshipping, playing and laughing, resting and working – together.

Look for more information on Len Morrow.
Find out about ReEstablish Richmond or email Patrick Bradford.
Editor’s note: Ann Carter serves on the FBC staff as Youth Associate.

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