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Posts Tagged ‘Debbie Boykin’

Story by Ellen and Michael Lipford. Photos by Charlotte McLaughlin and Debbie Boykin.

calloutMountains graced the horizon as we passed through villages of small huts with thatched roofs. Zulu women carried water and firewood on their heads. Sheep, goats and chickens roamed the streets. We were on our way to our first health clinic in South Africa.

crowd at medical clinicEight mission team members in a van and eight suitcases of medicine in a pickup truck approached two empty buildings devoid of electricity and running water (like most of this part of the country). With nearly 200 people lined up for medical help, Debbie Boykin, team leader, quickly set up the clinic. Anne Carey Roane and Jory SAF-pharmacy_DBoykinChristenson performed triage and organized patients. Dr. Van Williams, Dr. Rod Haithcock and Debbie set up three patient stations. We arranged and stocked a makeshift pharmacy. Charlotte McLaughlin documented our work with her cameras. And we saw patients, that day and every other, until we ran out of light.

Many had HIV, some had tuberculosis. One boy with distorted legs had rickets. And a man carried his dying friend on his back for miles to see us. Most thought American doctors could heal any disease, even blindness. We ministered to their physical needs as best we could, sometimes needing to refer them to hospitals in the country for further treatment.

kids1But what touched us most was the way we were able to minister to their spiritual and emotional needs. Through interpreters, we prayed with them, gave encouraging words, and smiled a lot. Big brown eyes of young children and old men and women smiled back, saying thank you without speaking a word.

While the crowds waited for us to set up each health clinic, we told them stories from the Bible. For some, it was the first gospel message they had ever heard. Both the landscape and the numbers of people were constant reminders of how the crowds followed Jesus to be healed, both physically and spiritually. We felt privileged to model our mission trip on His work.

medical clinicWe also felt privileged to work alongside missionaries we have supported through our offerings, Mark and Sara Williams. (See related stories: Working with them and SKEINS knits for South African children) We led worship through music, testimonies and storytelling at the Emmaus church they helped start, and extended their ministry through six health clinics.

Gogo NtombeThough we had the joy of bringing the good news of the gospel to the people of South Africa, God used them to teach us too. Gogo Ntombe, a member of the Emmaus church, was old and not able to walk the miles to the building. We visited her one afternoon in her small hut; we sang and read chapters from the Psalms. Gogo Ntombe had only been a Christian for three years, but when she pulled out her Bible, written in Zulu, the pages were worn and tattered and the binding was coming undone. She not only read this book, she lived by it. Clearly it was her dearest, most-used possession. From an American perspective, she had nothing. But she was satisfied – her soul was rich with the Lord.

kids2We were reminded that the God working in Gogo Ntombe is the same God that is working in us. He lives inside His people whether in Richmond, Virginia or in Emmaus, South Africa. He is our healer of mind, spirit and body. The people of South Africa inspired us to be better stewards of the Lord’s gifts here in our own community, and to share the good news of a God ready to heal, no matter how broken the surroundings.

Editor’s note: October 2013 mission team members: Debbie Boykin, leader; Jory Christenson, Dr. Rod Haithcock, Michael and Ellen Lipford, Charlotte McLaughlin, Anne Carey Roane, and Dr. Van Williams.

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By Jeannie Dortch. Photos courtesy of Paul Bickford, Ried Stelly and Mark Williams.

Callout-BLOG-kohx2In September 2013 Jim Somerville explained KOHx2, FBC’s second yearlong mission trip: “How much more possible it would be to bring the Kingdom if FBC partnered with other people, other churches, and other agencies and institutions. Everything is easier when you have a little help.”

SKEINS

SKEINS knitted wares

A little help is what made this story grow into one worth telling!

In December 2012 I heard Ann Curry from the TODAY Show tell everyone listening to the morning broadcast to perform 26 acts of kindness in memory of the children and teachers killed in Sandy Hook, CT. I had promised FBC’s SKEINS ministry (Sewers, Knitters, Embroiderers involved in Needlework for Service) that I would knit hats for children in South Africa, but had not made good on my pledge. It was that number 26 that gave me the goal and end point I needed to begin.

playground

Playground built by money raised
through special offerings

It wasn’t long before I met Mark and Sara Williams, CBF (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship) missionaries to South Africa, who were visiting Richmond, and gave them my first four feeble attempts. Then I learned about more ties between FBC members and the Williamses. June Burton was raising money to dig a well for the villagers in the community where Sara and Mark work. Debbie Boykin and Candi Brown were leading mission trips to that community, and Candi was spearheading a campaign to raise money to build a playground there.

I wanted to draw attention to these good causes, too. When the Fine Arts Team sought artists to display their work in the annual Arts and Crafts Show, I wondered if my hats, each unique, were considered show worthy? With a few phone calls, I discovered they were. And with a few more calls, I gathered more SKEINS knitters to contribute their work as well. These hats gave opportunities to share with the show’s attendees about the other FBC ties to South Africa. Gwen and Truman Smith, Sara Williams’ parents, answered questions about Sara and Mark’s work. June Burton provided flyers on “Digging Wells for Eli,” the project she named in honor of the Williams’ son. And a signup sheet for the first mission trip, led by Candi, was available.

Pratt Stelly-250px

Pratt Stelly on mission in Tibet

Pratt Stelly stopped at our Arts and Crafts Show booth and later wrote on Jim’s blog, referring to participation in FBC’s year-long mission trip as riding on a metaphorical bus that stops for passengers to disembark and help those in need: “At the Arts and Crafts Fair I was drawn to the darling baby hats from the SKEINS group. I was given a pattern right there on the spot, and stopped to buy yarn on my way home from church! I knit 10 hats before I left for China …. And this is where I got off the “bus.” While I want to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia, I feel like we should also bring the Kingdom of Heaven wherever we are in the world. I took my hats to Tibet in hopes of finding an orphanage, but could not find one that took babies. I decided to give the hats to needy people I passed on the street. … While we did not speak the same language, we shared the feeling of love for one another, and that is what it is all about. I will continue to knit and give hats wherever I am.”

Marian Robinson, another new knitter, says: “I saw the preemie hat … at the Arts and Crafts Fair. I was especially interested in the unusual design pattern. Jeannie sent me the directions. I was thrilled and excited to be part of this mission. I started immediately along with my cousin Kathy who was visiting from Massachusetts.

Mark Larson and kids

Mark Larson on mission in South Africa

We knitted a dozen hats in time for Mark Larson to take with him to South Africa in October. The task was a simple one, but the satisfaction received was more than I could have ever imagined.”

And finally, from Linn Kreckman, founder of SKEINS: “After listening to Gwen Smith speak at Missions Friends in September, Evan, my 6-year-old grandson, wanted to find time with me to knit for ‘the children who don’t have a mommy to keep them warm.’ His hat was a labor of love, full of beginning knitter’s holes, but one that was knit from the start to share.”

South African kids

FBC mission team members sharing hats
with SAF community

It is amazing how so much more can be accomplished when the work is joyfully and willingly shared. Math is not my strong suit, but KOHx2 may just be the easiest multiplication problem I ever worked!

Editor’s note: The goal for “Digging Wells for Eli” is $7,000 for one well. At the time of this writing, almost $6,000 has been raised and digging began November 11, 2013. For more information, contact June Burton.
For information on SKEINS, contact Linn Kreckman.
Jeannie Dortch just finished her 26th hat and plans to continue knitting.

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