Archive for February, 2014

By Jeannie Dortch. Photos by  Meredith Booth and Ann Carter.

Steve and Meredith Booth, father and daughter, both traveled to Manila, Philippines, to work with indigent families and with inmates of a women’s correctional facility. But not together, nor at the same time!

Callout-heartRecently they compared their trips’ impacts on those they served and the difference it has made in their own lives as Christians. When the purpose of a mission trip is to share with others that everyone is worthy of God’s attention, always loved, never forgotten, time and place become immaterial. And Steve and Meredith’s stories become amazingly similar.

Meredith with Filipino children

Meredith with Filipino children

In August, 2012, Meredith traveled to Manila to serve with a mission team that ministered to displaced families in the aftermath of a devastating monsoon season. They spread God’s love through song, crafts and puppets in over crowded government evacuation centers, as well as through simple worship services inside a maximum security women’s prison.

Steve visited the same correctional facility when he arrived in Manila in July, 2013, but his group spent the majority of its time in Quezon City’s Payatas. Sixty-thousand people live around this large, open dumpsite, sorting and selling whatever they can find. The sheer number of people in need was overwhelming in both settings, something that might foster discouragement, but for one fact. In Manila, Americans are revered. As Steve said, “They knew we were Christians, loved God, and cared enough to spend time with them. They listened attentively to our presentations (of songs, crafts, and pantomimed Bible stories), but getting to know us was more pertinent to them.”

Steve with Filipino children

Steve with Filipino children

Filipinos view visits from American Christians as a sign of hope. They were awestruck that Christians would travel so far to just be with them, listen to their stories and share Bible stories with them. One person told Meredith, “Your being here helps us believe that God knows we still exist! And we know He exists because you came!”

Meredith explained, “I was at home praying that I wouldn’t forget to pack what was needed for the lessons that our group had planned to teach, but the people with whom we worked told us that just our being there was an answer to their prayers. Our presence was that important to them! The props we brought paled in comparison to that.”

Meredith and Steve were struck by the happiness exuding from the people they met in Manila. Steve commented, “They’re so free. We place value on the accumulation of things, but they are not bogged down in trying to protect stuff. They know from experience that what they have today can be gone tomorrow.”

no tables-improvise-MBooth“Yes,” Meredith continued, “even while their shanties were being wiped away by flood waters, people would stand on bridges watching their homes wash away and laugh. Because they have nothing, nothing holds them back in their faith. They understand the transitory value of things and the eternal value of God. Having nothing frees them to put their faith in Him 1,000% and they do.”

Both concurred that the only qualification needed to join a mission team going to this part of the world is just a willingness to go. “The setting equips you,” said Meredith, “and the people pull out of you just what they need.”

Steve added, “Giving yourself is a job anyone can do. Though we had an agenda, leaders and interpreters, the only thing necessary was a listening and loving heart. God provided that for both of us.”

2012 team members: Meredith Booth, Allen Cumbia (Team Leader), Hope Cumbia, Jensine Cumbia, Gladys Johnson, Ralph Starling, Matthew Szucs, Ruth Szucs, Cathy Tankersley, Lynn Turner.

2013 team members: Steve Booth, Ann Carter (Team Leader), Allen Cumbia, Elise Cumbia, Diana Hubbard, Emily Hubbard, Madison Brown, Andrea Culotta, Madeline Surles, Melissa Johnson, Claire Johnson, and Jonathan Kim.

Editor’s note: Since August 2013 we have published three stories of father-daughter mission journeys – a trend reflecting another way our church is blessed and is a blessing. See related stories: Letting Go and Ministering to the Zulu People in South Africa

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By Lorna Brown

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34, NIV). Notice that the Lord does not say, “Where your heart is, there your treasure will be also.” He tells us that because hearts follow treasure, it is important where we invest our treasure. It is also important that we be intentional about that investing.

boy giving flowersTreasure consists of more resources than money, including time and talents, but money often gives us the quickest view of our treasure’s location. It is likely to tell us as well where we spend our time and talents. Even a brief look at our checkbooks reveals two things: First, our hearts are not where they should be. But, second, they are where they should be. How can this be? Aren’t these two statements contradictory? Not really, because our hearts are not to be in one place only.

The Ten Commandments guide our investing of treasure. They teach about our important relationships to our family, our community and God. Jesus wraps those responsibilities in love – love God and love your neighbor. In doing so, He gives us more than responsibility, He gives us a vocation. And we fulfill that vocation with our treasure.

When we look at our checkbooks, we see that much of our treasure is invested in our families. Some is invested in our neighbors, often through gifts to charities and community organizations. The question we need to ask is, “Are we investing as much of our treasure in God, through our gifts to our church?” This question requires more than a casual response. It requires a response of intentional investing to our vocation of love. When we put our treasure in God, then our hearts follow and abide in Him.

Isn’t that where we want our hearts?

See related stories: Giving cheerfully, living generously are acts of worship and Tithing creates generous lifestyle for Whittingtons.

Editor’s note: Commitment Sunday, February 23, 2014, is a time for making intentional decisions about investing your treasure.

Lorna BrownLorna Brown was born and raised in England. She came to the USA in 1968 and has lived in Richmond for the past 23 years. Lorna has a BBA from Western Florida University, an MBA from University of Phoenix and is retired from the State where she worked as an accountant. Lorna has been a member of First Baptist since 1997, is a member of the FLO Crew, serves as a Deacon, and has been on several mission trips.

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By Susan Beach. Photos by Win Grant and Jess Ward.

Dr. FlammingDr. Peter James Flamming, Pastor Emeritus of Richmond’s First Baptist Church, served FBC as Senior Pastor, 1983-2006.

In 23 years, Dr. Flamming shared with our congregation his gifts of leading, preaching, teaching, and pastoring. Those gifts came in various shapes and forms, usually marking and nurturing significant steps in our spiritual journeys.

I followed his column, “…from the Vesper Garden,” in the church newsletter. His words often were exactly what I needed to hear on a particular day. One of those columns, now yellowed and brittle, I carry with me every day; it continues to set me straight:

A Prayer for a Busy Day

I’ll not complete everything I need to do today. Time will run out; the sun will set; the day will be done; and I will not have finished the task. Help me not to set myself up for failure by thinking I can get it all done, then feeling defeated when I don’t.
Acceptance comes hard sometimes. I find myself wishing I were two persons. Help me to accept my limitations and the limitations of this day. Help me to remember that You too once lived with these constraints and struggled under the press of a twenty-four hour day. Yet it was enough. May I remember that it is Your grace and Your Spirit that matters, not my check-list.
Since I’ll not get everything done today, guide me, oh Lord, to accomplish the essential instead of simply the demanded. Help me to see those who must be seen. Lead me to do those things that must be done instead of those that could be done; make me more sensitive to broken hearts than to my planned schedule.
On the other hand, may my sensitivity to time free me from the time-grabbers and time-wasters. Above all, be my Partner this day. You can see ahead and I can’t. Help me to remember that nothing can happen to me today that You and I can’t handle together.
In Christ’s name,

Dr. Flamming 20th anniversaryWhat gift did Dr. Flamming share with you? What marked and nurtured your journey? Help celebrate Dr. Flamming’s 80th birthday (February 3) by sharing a memory in the comment box below.

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