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Author Archives: Baptist General Association of Virginia

Summer Partnership Opportunities

Looking for an international mission opportunity this summer? Our partners in Romania and Haiti have a vision for ministry taking place in their communities and have invited us to join them.

Contact Craig Waddell to learn more about any of these opportunities and how you may be able to get involved!

Craig Waddell : [staff-title] Craig Waddell
Partnership and Short-Term Volunteer Coordinator, Mission Development Staff
800.255.2428 or 804.915.5000 x7263


Kairos Romania Kids Ministry 2015

Kids in Romania enjoy singing with the Kairos Team and Providence Baptist Church.

Pastor Pavel Oreche leads a team of indigenous church planters in the area around Turnu-Severin. They would like teams to help develop relationships in their villages through children’s activities and English camps. Teams could also join local congregations in repairing some of their churches.


  • VBS: Ronel would like to have four VBS teams at the Source of Light Center. All of the teams, especially the VBS teams, need to be familiar with the discipleship language of Breen’s “Lifeshape” materials from “Building a Discipling Culture”. In particular, Ronel would like for VBS teams to use the “Kairos Quest” VBS curriculum from the Breen materials.
  • Source of Light Week: This is a week of being open to the community. In the morning there could be an English club. In the afternoon the team can help invite people from the community to the evening celebration. The evening event would be approx. 5:00-7:00pm and include music, a message, and refreshments. Tentative dates for this: June 25th-July 1st. A team could come on June 22nd or 23rd and help get the Centre ready, invite neighbors, etc.
  • The Source of Light Center has a class for special needs children (6-12 years old). They would like training for the teachers/leaders, as well as help with materials.
  • There is need for a medical team – for example a team of nurses who can do health screening (blood pressure, diabetes, PAP smears, etc.). Haiti leads the world in the cervical cancer rate.
  • Backyard Bible Club for the neighborhood: Using the “Kairos Quest” curriculum, the team would help the SOL church provide a children’s Bible club for the neighborhood.
  • In August the school/orphanage need help getting ready for the new school year. A team could come in August to help do repair, painting, etc.
  • Source of Light school: The school needs more continuing education experiences for the teachers. Teachers from other schools would also be invited.
  • Music Camp!
  • The (transition house) Delmas 19 Youth Centre needs a fence that divides the playground area from the garden and the chickens. The team would work with Haitian church members to build the fence. Hopefully also help pay for the fence.
  • The Source of Light Center could use one or two used pianos. If you know of a church getting rid of something like that, Ronel can ship it easily from Miami if we can get it that far!

    Refugee Crisis Update

    refugee croatia 2015

    Posted: 1/23/17 at 3:30pm. Post by Dean Miller

    As early as last year Croatia, like many other European countries, were being inundated with refugees pouring out of war-torn Syria and other locations.

    People fled from their homes with nothing but the bags they could carry and wandered for weeks on end attempting to find a safe haven. Many refugees desired to make it further north to Germany and the United Kingdom but first they had to travel through other countries.

    Croatia was one of the countries where these refugees would get their first taste of freedom.

    For many, this would be their first encounter with a Christian.

    Croatian Baptists used this opportunity to show compassion and the love of Christ. They met the refugees at a train station and provided warm food, clean water, simple medical care, and other forms of compassion. For many, this would be their first encounter with a Christian.

    The BGAV provided funds to assist in this ministry, and members of Richmond’s First Baptist Church were able to go and assist Croatian Baptist Aid at the refugee camp at the train depot.

    However, Croatia soon closed its borders, and refugees were forced to find another way to freedom. Croatian Baptist Aid was undeterred, and they realized that, even though the refugees were no longer coming to their borders, they had a responsibility to help. They looked around and soon discovered a new place to serve: along the shores of Greece.
    Kids in the Refugee Camp Greece
    They have taken several teams to Greece to show compassion and do their best to share the love of Christ. Recently, a team from Richmond’s First Baptist Church was able to travel again to assist the Croatians with these compassion ministries. Virginia Baptists provided more funding to Croatian Baptist Aid to assist their work at the new camp in Greece.

    Your Cooperative Missions dollars have played a vital role in funding this response to these men, women, and children who are suffering under horrible circumstances.

    Your continued gifts will support this and other projects led by Baptist groups who are working along the front lines of this humanitarian refugee crisis.

    Visit our Refugee Blog

    Refugee Crisis

    Your continued gifts will support the responses of our international partners to the refugee crisis. Thank you for your generosity and partnership in this response!

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      Life in the Greek Refugee Camp: Day 6

      In November 2015, nine Virginia Baptists served alongside Croatians in the refugee camp. Last week, some of this group returned to Europe to work in a refugee camp in Greece. These are their stories.

      Ann Whitfield Carter writes:

      Camp Veria is an amazing place.

      It is for “the vulnerables” which means it houses women, children, families, the elderly, and those with special needs. It is overseen by the Greek military and housed at an old military base.

      Greece Refugees

      Camp Veria

      It is run by an inspiring young man named Sam James (we told you a bit about him in an earlier post) and his mother Mary. Mary has an organization called Bridge2Refugees that she started in 2004 after the Indian Ocean tsunami. Mary’s husband had just left her and Sam, and she was looking to pour her broken heart into something bigger than she was.

      Greece RefugeesInitially funded by an inheritance and now relying on the generosity of friends and strangers, she goes around the world after major disasters (earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal, typhoon in Philippines, refugees camp “jungle” in Calais), sets up relief, establishes relationships, and designates trusted people to carry on her work as she moves on to the next disaster. I have not met Mary. She left the day we arrived. But we have come to know Sam and the work he is doing.

      While the military provides the location and the security for the camp, Sam is the one who makes things run.

      There are 4 buildings. A, B, C and D. One is for families with young children. Two are for older families. One is for single men. These buildings are former army barracks – akin to a dormitory. And there is one family in each room.

      Only in building A is there a bathroom. The rest use port a potties. There is hot water only a couple of hours a day.

      The women wash clothes in cold water outside and hang clothes on lines. (But Elvis and his team just invested in 5 washers and 2 dryers for the camp. He spent the day today cutting through Greek red tape to get permission to install them. They will be installed next week!).

      The buildings are heated, but the army turns off the heat at 1am to conserve fuel. It wouldn’t be so bad except that it is colder than it has been for 58 years. It is pretty damp and miserable all over camp.

      Greece RefugeesAnd there is black mold all over the walls. And the bureaucratic machine moves VERY slowly. But with Elvis’ permission for washing machines, he got permission for mold elimination. We will see how long it takes.

      While the living conditions in Camp Veria aren’t entirely healthy, they are far better than some of the other camps around Greece and in the Balkan states!

      Sam, with the help of the Greek military, has developed quite a system. Every day the children go to school and are taught by teachers in the camp. The teachers are paid by the International Rescue Committee (IRC). School is SO important, not only to educate the kids, but to keep them active and learning and on a schedule!

      On Tuesdays and Thursdays there is a free super market where the residents can purchase dry goods as well as fresh, local fruits and vegetables. This is to supplement what the military supplies which isn’t much or very good (it usually gets fed to the stray dogs that roam camp).

      Sam spends about $1,500 a week on food supplies. There is a large warehouse behind the store where the overflow supplies are held. It is quite an organizational system. They also have a strict distribution formula based on how many people are in a family.

      This super marker is quite an important service since many refugees came malnourished because of lack of fresh food. According to Sam you particularly see this among young mothers and new babies who are often born with birth defects – some even die – because of nutritional deficiencies and lack of medical care.

      There is also a free clothes shop and a shoe shop that is open a couple of times a month depending on volunteer manpower. I wrote about the clothes shop yesterday. But as we worked for the second day, we encountered some of the challenges of running this shop based on donations.

      Greece RefugeesThere are three rooms: the shop, the storage room (organized in bins based on gender, type of garment and size), and the donation room (which is floor to ceiling boxes filled with donations). The challenge comes in helping the customers find what they need, keeping the store stocked, making sure the bins are filled with stock ready to put in the stores, and going through random boxes of donations and sorting them into bins.

      All five of us did that today – plus Katina from Crete – to keep the store running. It’s chaos in a constant state of trying to be organized. And I loved every minute. This service is quite essential so that families can get warm coats and socks and hats and sweaters (jumpers) and trousers (pants are underwear) and joggers (sweatpants) and jeans (skinny jeans, please!!!).

      The residents come to the store based on what building they live in. They come by family and take a number and wait in line. One family comes in at a time, and we help them as best we can. Whoever set up the store created a lovely space, complete with a dressing room. And the time spent with the families is priceless. They are so lovely and so grateful.

        Praying for Change in Greece: Day 5

        In November 2015, nine Virginia Baptists served alongside Croatians in the refugee camp. Last week, some of this group returned to Europe to work in a refugee camp in Greece. These are their stories.

        Steve Blanchard writes:

        When will we quit pretending we are better because of ______ (fill in the blank)?

        God, I apologize. I am guilty too. I am not sending this as a condemnation that I have not also committed. I am just tired of doing it, seeing it, hearing it.

        Help us all to love as you loved. To treat others the way you would treat them.

        These refugees I meet everyday do not know what lies ahead. Will they find a new place to live. Will their families be safe? Are they safe? Will they thrive or just survive.

        The world is full of it, the it being so many issues and problems, and hurts and wrongs. We cannot fix them all but we can love. Thanks God for showing me how.

        Ann Whitfield Carter writes:

        I am sooo tired. Almost too tired to write. But I am so full. So full that I can’t help but write. Full of love for these beautiful people I have encountered. Full of grief for what they have lived through. Full of hope for their future. And full of gratitude for the privilege of getting to know them and thankful I can help them in small ways.

        Refugee Families Pick Up Clothing GreeceToday, we worked in the clothes shop at the camp. For 8 hours, non-stop, we helped families find the clothes they needed. At home, when I need some underwear or a coat or a pair of jeans, I just run up to Target or the mall and purchase off the rack exactly what I need. For the refugees, they can only shop on assigned days every other week (as far as I can tell….or maybe once a month?) based on the building they live in. Today we served the “A” building.

        They are limited in what they can take – one pair of underwear, one shirt, one coat, one pair of pants, one hat, one pair of gloves, etc. and most of what they have to choose from has been donated and is not new! And they have to do the best they can with our limited inventory!

        Shannon, Lori and I worked in the clothes store with a woman named Catalinia who is a Cypriot who lived Britain and has family in Newport News (go figure). It’s a small and beautiful world!

        I lost track of how many families we worked with, but here are two stories that stand out to me:

        Bessama’s Story

        Bessama is the mother of three very young boys under the age of 8. She lost twins – a boy and a girl. Because of the language barrier, I did not find out how or when she lost them. But our eyes filled with tears when she spoke of it.

        Bessama’s 8 year old son requires surgery for a wandering eye that causes headaches when he tries to focus. He had an appointment with an eye doctor yesterday and is anticipating surgery soon to repair his eye as soon as funds are available.

        In spite of all of this. Bessama is one of the happiest women who came to the clothes store today.

        Mohammah’s Story

        Mohammad, 11, is the eldest of four – three boys and a girl – and he was especially helpful when we moved 2 tons of rice last Friday. Mohammad is always eager to work and help the camp workers. His English is pretty good too.

        I have also seen his brothers around camp – kicking a soccer ball or wrestling together. I found out today that he lost his sister when she was 12. I do not know when. I do not know how. I just know that this sweet family was all smiles and gratitude while they were in the shop picking out clothes for everyone.

        What strength in the face of great loss.

        Kids in the Refugee Camp Greece

        Absolutely drowning in sweetness and chocolate brown eyes. My lap was full while their parents “shopped” for clothes for the family. My heart was pretty full, too! ?❤️

        There were quite a number of families with multiple children and we helped them
        navigate the store and pick out what they need. I was so lucky, I got to spend much of my time entertaining the children.

        From crying babies, to affectionate children, to sweet fingers sticky with banana, to children who were quieted by looking at a cell phone, it was such a joy to take them in my arms and keep them entertained while their parents shopped. I don’t know who was more entertained – them or me!

        One of the things that drew me to Croatia last year and to Greece this year was that pull to show love and acceptance to the least of these – the ones who are run out of their countries by war and refused for asylum in every other nation of the world.

        They feel so unwanted and unloved.

        It is so sad to see. Yet these refugees find joy in their lives. They are thrilled to be free of falling bombs and gunfire (which they describe with booming sounds and hand large explosive hand motions).

        What have they seen?

        What have they survived?

        What have they lost?

        I cannot imagine. Yet, they are still filed with joy and hope despite waiting as much as a year in the camp and enduring endless red tape. The love they show us is heartwarming; inviting us to their rooms for tea or a meal, embracing us with gratitude, telling their stories in broken English and sharing their children with us so we can love on them in place of our own children. I have much to learn from these beautiful people about gratitude, about endurance, about courage, about love. I think we all do.

        And I hope that, because we have shared our lives together this week, that we are that much closer to understanding each other and one step closer to world peace.

          Waiting for Asylum in Greece: Day 3

          In November 2015, nine Virginia Baptists served alongside Croatians in the refugee camp. Last week, some of this group returned to Europe to work in a refugee camp in Greece. These are their stories.

          Steve Blanchard writes:

          Refugee Camp LaundryIn a conversation I had tonight with a lady who volunteers, she told me of three men from the camp I believe who had received invitations from the Ministry in Athens to come and do their resettlement/asylum interview.

          After their interview, they have two choices; stay in Athens and await their appointment, which could come the next day or the next month, or return to the camp here in Varia and wait it out. However, if the return to Varia, as soon as they get word, they must return to Athens immediately – a five hour bus ride.

          They chose to stay, and I pray they receive their placement to one of the eight countries they requested.

          Recently, a baby was born in the camp to the tune of much excitement while close by one died of complications due in large part to the lack of proper medical care being available.

          The children in camp gathered early today to play marbles and soccer. Most folks stayed inside despite the influx of warmer weather.

          Folks from the U.S., Canada, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Germany, France, and Spain worked together today making the camp into a better run outfit for the refugees; a place that will be able to meet their needs long after we are gone. Two new friends from Arizona and Canada left today to transport baby boxes (very strong trunk-sized cardboard boxes filled with basic supplies) and other supplies to the Serbian border. Pray for them because transportation is difficult, as well as, entry into Serbia.

          Spent the day stocking supplies and organizing the clothing warehouse. Meeting in the morning with the base commander and Elvis (our friend from Croatia) to see about setting up a clothes washing facility in the camp. Refugees now wash and “dry” their clothes outside in the cold weather and cold water.

          We are then off to the main distribution center outside of Thessaloniki, therefore, except for my meeting, we will not be in the camp tomorrow. Lots to pray for and about. Blessings.

            Ordaining A Deacon in Greece: Day 2

            In November 2015, nine Virginia Baptists served alongside Croatians in the refugee camp. Last week, some of this group returned to Europe to work in a refugee camp in Greece. These are their stories.

            We arrived at the camp today amidst a cold rain. The camp looked desolate as many refugees were huddled in their non-heated rooms hopefully awaiting warmer temps.

            Refugee Camp GreeceWe were given several task; putting up a screen and building a shelf in the men’s recreational room, organizing the camp’s supply room, and helping with a variety of other task.

            As the weather slowly warmed, refugees began emerging from their lodging. We showed a movie to the children in the camp, and the room was packed. Afterwards, we handed out snacks and small toys as they exited.

            As we prepared to leave, a dance party broke out among the young men. They were laughing and having a fine time and they eventually lured us out as they taught us a traditional Syrian dance. We all danced and laughed in a great time of bonding. One young man told me it was the first time he had danced since 2011. His joy was evident.

            Dancing in the Refugee Camp GreeceThe refugees are so friendly, many always greeting us with a smile and conversation. We saw this morning, on the other hand, as we watched the BBC, thousands of refugees freezing on the streets of Serbia. Huddled in warehouses, burning whatever scrap wood they could find, complicated by the fact of record snowfalls, over 65 have died.

            Throughout several locations in Europe, refugees continue to suffer, facing freezing temperatures and, in many cases, deplorable living conditions. Men, women, and children, young and old, fleeing all they knew, only to meet another war of sorts away from home.

            We concluded tonight by ordaining one of our team members as a deacon. We did so because he is going to miss the deacon ordination service tomorrow afternoon at our church in Richmond.

            We head out in the morning at 9 where we return to the camp to do whatever task they have for us, and who knows, maybe more dancing. One thing I know for sure, I am sure we will encounter the face of Christ many times.

            Deacon Ordination at the Saint Paul Tribune

            Deacon Ordination in GreeceHow many Baptist Deacons have been ordained in Greece on a site where the Apostle Paul actually preached? Not many, I would wager.

            But Shannon Harton was ordained as a deacon at the Saint Paul Tribune last night. After spending the day serving refugees awaiting resettlement in Camp Veria in northern Greece, the First Baptist team serving with Shannon ordained him as deacon in the dark, amidst traffic noises at the place where it is believed that Paul preached to the Jews of Berrea.

            Deacon Ordination services are always special – a time when individuals are called out in service and leadership – through blessing and the laying on of hands, they are set apart to be the hands and feet of Christ in their congregation. Everyone who was ordained today is living out their faith in ways that are personal and authentic to them. It is exciting to see the way God works so uniquely in our lives.

            It is especially exciting for one of our deacons to be ordained in the midst of service to “the least of these” in a place where Paul preached the good news of the hope we have in Christ.

            From the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Thessaloniki, Greece (a mere 45 miles from where we sit) this is our prayer for all those who were ordained today:

            “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you.”
            I Thessalonians 1:2-4

              Refugees In Greece: Day 1

              In November 2015, nine Virginia Baptists served alongside Croatians in the refugee camp. Last week, some of this group returned to Europe to work in a refugee camp in Greece. These are their stories.

              Ann Whitfield Carter writes:

              2015 Croatia Team

              As I lie in bed in the wee hours, awakened by jet lag and anticipation of the day ahead – our first day in Camp Veria – I think about why we are here. The obvious reason is that we want to love and serve the refugees who sit and wait on overwhelmed governments to decide their future.

              We want them to know that they are not forgotten, that they are seen and valued.
              We want to join the good work the residents of Veria are doing as they are the hands and feet of Christ.
              We want to support and encourage them in that work – they are in it for the long haul.

              But what we want to do and the work we are called to do may be two different things.

              We have no idea what we will be doing or how we will be called upon. All we know is that we are called to be here and we are open to the work that will be required of us. Setting aside all expectations and agendas, we go into this day willing to be the hands and feet of Christ in the lives of each person we encounter.

              There are too many “least of these” in our world today. This week, we are among the “least of these” in Greece. And as we encounter Christ in “least of these” we will serve Christ. In one of those paradoxes of my faith, I realize that it is in my service to Christ that I become Christ to those I serve.

              Who will I serve today? Who will you serve today?

              Steve Blanchard writes:

              Well, it is actually not day one because we arrived yesterday, however, it was our first day in the camp.

              Greece Refugee Camp View

              A view of the camp from the office.

              The camp is a former military installation that now houses 260 refugees, mostly Syrian, with a small population from Afghanistan. The camp consists of approximately 60 families and 17 single males.

              It is one of 68 refugee camps in Greece, a country home to approximately 75,000 refugees. There are around 6 NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) working in the camp with the Greek military overseeing security and other things.

              Each NGO has a responsibility in the camp. The organization we are working with is called Bridge2. It is not a NGO but a charity non-profit based in England. It does amazing work, not only here in Greece but around the world, responding to a wide variety of crises.

              The amazing thing is that they only have 2 employees, a mother and son, Sarah and Sam Griffith. I have been amazed at how much they do probably because they do not have the bureaucracy, being volunteers, that many of the government and non-government agencies have.

              We toured the camp after an orientation from Sam. It is a small camp compared to many of the others. The biggest camp in Greece houses around 2000 refugees with the average being around 800 or so. I am so impressed with the generosity of many of the Europeans as it relates to the refugees. Donations of time, resources, and money come from all walks of life and despite animosity from some, many give.

              This crisis has been going on for several years and is still part of their everyday lives.

              Anyway, today we moved over 2 tons of rice from temporary storage into a more permanent space and unloaded and sorted 100’s of pairs of shoes. We met refugees from Syria who were so nice, several who spoke English and were able to share part of their stories. Some families have resided in this camp for 6 months or more.

              One young man I spoke to had been in Greece for 10 months with hopes to make it to Germany to resettle his life.

              Refugees face long waits to get resettlement interviews in Athens, at least a 10 hour round trip bus ride. At the interview, they can choose up to 8 different countries in which to resettle. This list consists of countries who have decided to accept refugees allowing them to start their lives over after losing all that they had. Sadly, the U.S. is not on that list.

              Much false information is spread about the U.S. decision not to accept refugees. Some say terrorists can walk right in undocumented. Wrong! The vetting process for refugees from any country is approximately 2 years and very intense.

              More later. Blessings.

              Ann reflects after the first day:

              Yesterday was our first day at the camp (I was too tired to post last night). I will spare you the details of the history and how the camp works for now and tell you what captured my heart; the people.

              People like Sam from Guernsey who quit his job, broke up with his girlfriend and came to Greece to help his mom run Camp Veria. He was so compelled by the plight of the refugees that he decided this work was more important than anything else in his life.

              Jill and Amanda Greece Refugees

              Jill from Phoenix and Amanda from Canada who are volunteering with Carry the Future and delivering 700 carriers and Moses baskets filled with baby supplies for the refugees.

              Jill, the mom from Arizona, who volunteers for Carry the Future and is on her third trip to Greece in a year donating baby carriers and supplies to refugee camps in Greece, Macedonia and Serbia.

              Christina, a local woman who works in the camp every day – and has since it opened – spending time with the refugees, giving of her own meager resources to ensure the refugees have what they need to live.

              Then there are the refugees themselves. The young attorney who left his career behind in search of life without war. Seems an easy choice until you have been sitting in a camp for a year and realize that you will have to repeat to law school in another country with a different language in order to ever practice law again.

              The extremely smart young boy who has a wandering eye and gets severe headaches when he tries to focus. There are no resources for medical expenses because it isn’t an emergency like a broken arm or a woman in labor. They are looking for funds to take him to a doctor for a consultation to make sure nothing serious is causing the problem and to see if surgery is an option.

              The young woman who had a baby boy yesterday.

              The young children who were so eager to help the Americans with their tasks.

              Sam and Constas Greece Refugees

              Sam, the young man who is running the camp and Constas, the Greek army officer who is the camp commander.

              The Camp Commander, Constas, who is a joyful advocate for the refugees.

              And how can I forget the sweet little boy with chocolate eyes and tousled brown curls who, when I knelt down to speak to him, reached up and gave me a kiss on the cheek and threw his arms around me in a big hug. Such uninhibited, joyful love!

              So many people of different nationalities and faiths, motivated by love and compassion to make this world a better place and others who are working so hard and giving up so much so their families can have a future. In the face of war and hatred and polarization there is much beauty, much to celebrate, so many glimpses of hope! And there is so much more to do.

                Disaster Response Trains, Serves BGAV Attendees

                Attendees enjoyed the beautiful weather and tasty lunch from Virginia Baptist Disaster Response.

                Attendees enjoyed the beautiful weather and tasty lunch from Virginia Baptist Disaster Response.

                Posted: 11/18/16 at 11:00am.

                As a busy 2016 comes to a close, Virginia Baptist Disaster Response volunteers served attendees at the 2016 BGAV Annual Meeting in Roanoke.

                Held at Bonsack Baptist Church in Roanoke, volunteers set up the Nickelsville-based feeding unit, a command unit, and the children’s response team’s equipment to serve throughout the meeting.

                Attendees looking for a tasty lunch on Tuesday were treated to a menu of pork BBQ, chicken fajitas, and chicken tenders, while fresh-baked cookies, brownies, and cinnamon rolls were a welcome site and smell throughout the foyer at Bonsack.

                Watch WDBJ7 News Story

                As Disaster Response Coordinator Aaron Lee shared with WDBJ-7, “They’re going through all of the motions that they will actually do, in peace time when they’re not stressed, so that they can get the habits and the rhythms down. So when a disaster comes, they’ll be ready to go.”

                Volunteers also utilized the meeting as a reunion of sorts, finding familiar faces from 2016 responses across Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Missouri, and Louisiana.

                Virginia Baptist Disaster Response volunteers continue to serve in North Carolina following Hurricane Matthew, while also supporting long-term recovery in Appomattox and Essex counties in the Commonwealth following the February tornadoes, and West Virginia following summer floods.

                Training opportunities for 2017 can be found at BGAV.org/Disaster with more to be announced throughout 2017.

                  2017 Summer Venturers

                  venturers logo

                  Contact: Glenn Maddox

                  In cooperation with BGAV Partners, both domestically and internationally, Mission Development Staff are able to provide meaningful avenues for college students and young adults to engage in mission opportunities, specifically during the summer months.

                  Included below is a list of possible placements for you to consider, recognizing that these options are not exhaustive. Each of these placements is of high priority and are intended for a service period of six to eight weeks. Knowing how greatly our partners will benefit from the assistance of college students, Mission Development Staff are prepared to contribute partial funding towards the total approximate cost of each placement.

                  Apply Now!

                  Applications received by March 1, 2017 will be reviewed and matched to a placement immediately through an interview process. Applications received after this deadline will be matched to placements that remain unfilled.

                  All summer Venturers will attend an orientation in May and a debrief event in August alongside other students who have served during the summer through other Baptist partners.

                  The BGAV Summer Venturer Program covers cost of flights and insurance for international placements. The costs listed below include estimates of in-country costs other than entertainment. Students can raise funds individually or through the BGAV. The BGAV can create a page for each Summer Venturer that hosts their blog posts and an opportunity for people to contribute financially to the cost of their experience.

                  Download Full Catalog [PDF]

                  Summer Venturer Opportunities

                  Summer Venturers Church Internship – Vienna, Austria: 2 students

                  Through the European Baptist Federation, Virginia Baptists are sponsoring a church planter among Afghani and Iranian refugees living in and around Vienna, Austria. This young church planter, Cesar Sotomayor, from Mexico, and his wife, Simone, from Germany, are responding to God’s call to minister among these specific refugee communities. Simultaneously, they have recently begun a new church among the Latino population of Vienna. Their ministries are directly connected to the Austria Baptist Union. A variety of ministry projects would be available for student mission involvement, including sports, building relationships, visiting and ministering in refugee housing facilities, Bible studies, etc. Student volunteers will most likely be housed in the Austrian Baptist student dormitory near the University in Vienna.

                  Approximate cost – $3,000

                  Syrian Refugee Ministries – Beirut, Lebanon: 2 students
                  dates to coincide with scheduled camps

                  With the influx of Syrian refugees fleeing from their country as a result of the present civil war crisis, Lebanese Baptists and other evangelical faith communities are uniting in their efforts to minister to the needs of these disparate men, women and children. There are numerous projects being set up throughout Lebanon to respond to this crisis which involve food preparation and feeding large numbers of individuals, spending time with and showing Christian love and concern to those in the tent cities, being a listening ear when you can’t even understand language being spoken, offering smiles and hugs, playing with children and youth through simple games and sports activities.

                  Approximate cost – $540/week

                  More Than Nets – Yendi, Ghana: 2 students

                  More Than Nets is a strategic partnership with the Ghana Baptist Convention to target malaria in Yendi, a small municipality in northern Ghana. The goal is to provide 100,000 chemically treated mosquito nets to protect the entire population of this region. In addition to the nets, we are working to plant a church in each of the 435 villages that are within this region. Summer missionaries will work alongside one of the missionaries of the Ghana Convention, Emmanuel Mustapha – “Muss”, and other volunteers to distribute nets, plant churches, manage volunteer groups and provide other general ministry functions. Additional information can be found on these web-sites: www.facebook.com/morethannets and www.bgav.org/morethannets.

                  Approximate cost – $200/week

                  Project Ruth – Bucharest, Romania: 4 students

                  Volunteers will lead summer clubs for approximately 60 Roma/ impoverished students, ages 5-12 years, on a weekly basis at the Ruth School. Summer interns at Project Ruth will plan, acquire materials and implement clubs. Students will also organize and run clubs and Vacation Bible School activities in various Roma villages and churches on a semi-regular basis. Responsibilities may include various tasks at the Ruth School such as cleaning classrooms, repair work, painting, light administrative tasks and hospitality for visiting mission teams. Volunteers may be asked to take part in other events organized as part of the Virginia Baptist partnership with Romanian Baptists – especially hosting and supporting teams serving in Bucharest during the summer. Please visit http://www.ProjectRuth.ro for more information on this organization that seeks to minister to the Roma of Bucharest through education and women’s programs.

                  Approximate cost – $350/week

                  Serve South Africa Internship – Abba’s Pride

                  Volunteers will spend most of their days in rural communities working alongside Abba’s Pride missionaries to see how God is using this ministry to connect with churches in under-resourced areas to support their communities. Volunteers will establish relationships and then build and execute their own mission project based on gifts and needs of the community. Interns will do two weeks of cultural immersion with host churches during their six weeks in South Africa.

                  Approximate cost – $250/week (6 weeks required)

                  Source of Light Center – Port-au-Prince, Haiti: 2 students

                  Built following the devastating earthquake in 2010, the Source of Light Center is truly just that to the community of Delmas 19 – a source of light. Serving as an orphanage, primary school, community center and adult development center, the ministry of the Source of Light Center is far reaching across Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. Primary responsibilities for collegiate summer missionaries may include living among and loving the orphaned children living at Source of Light, assisting with volunteer teams traveling from the US, helping with development projects to aid the community, and leading within the local congregation. For more information on the Source of Light Center, visit this web-site: http://www.sourceoflighthaiti.org.

                  Approximate cost – $200/week

                  Southwest Virginia Partnership – Nickelsville, Virginia: 2 students

                  A placement with the Southwest Virginia Partnership will involve working closely with Tony and Jan Johnson, project Coordinators, and the volunteer mission teams. Students will assist with leading the volunteer projects and any necessary preparations for teams, such as logistical arrangement and purchasing necessary materials for each project. Visit the “Southwest Virginia Partnership” Facebook page to learn more about this ministry.

                  Approximate cost – $100/week

                  Positions that Receive a Stipend

                  Download Full Catalog [PDF]

                  Disaster Response Summer Team
                  $1800 stipend – 4, 6, or 8 positions

                  vbdr-webDisaster Response Summer Team will experience many facets of the DR experience, including training and response to disasters, participation in exercises, and learning experiences around the disaster response process from preparation to relief to rebuild to long-term development.

                  The team will begin their summer with a robust training experience, so they understand their role within the emergency management framework and the opportunities they will have to serve others in Jesus’ name. The team will remain on-call to respond to a disaster in Virginia or another nearby state.

                  Download the catalog for a full description of this team.

                  Impact Mission Camps
                  $1800 stipend – 4, 6, or 8 positions

                  impact mission campsThe Impact Team will be responsible for all aspects of the Impact Mission camp experience. They will plan and lead worship, support and engage students, and handle administrative tasks during the weeks before and during camp. They will also serve alongside international students from BGAV partners who are serving as volunteers on Impact staff each summer.

                  Download the catalog for a full description of this team.

                  To learn more about Impact Mission Camps, visit http://www.impactmissioncamps.org.


                  If you’re interested in an even longer time of service, consider being part of our Venturers program. Venturers are individuals at least eighteen years of age who serve in hands-on mission roles for a period of six months to two years. The Venturer program provides opportunities for longer-term mission service in local and global settings.

                  We work to get to know the individuals applying to be part of the program and help connect their gifts and calling with a partner who has specific needs. We have a few outstanding requests for Venturers and a wealth of relationships with partners who have a variety of needs that we are ready to help meet with the person who has the required skills and sense of call. Contact Glenn Maddox for more information.

                    Remembering Lloyd Jackson

                    lloyd jacksonRichmond.com Obituary

                    It is with heavy hearts we share with you that Lloyd Jackson passed away Thursday night.

                    Many of you knew Lloyd personally, but all of you know of the fruits of his ministry. Over the past five decades, Lloyd was instrumental in the genesis of disaster relief ministry within the BGAV family. Lloyd joined the staff of the Virginia Baptist General Board, leading our Baptist camps, mission programming with men and boys, and he soon added disaster relief to his work.

                    Lloyd volunteered his service with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, where he served as a member of the national steering committee, and most recently as a member of the feeding committee, along with the American Red Cross and the Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.

                    He was closely connected with the American Red Cross through some of the earliest Baptist feeding operations, and he continued to support the relationship between these two groups as he helped formulate the most recent Memorandum of Understanding in 2015.

                    “From my first weeks on the job, Lloyd was quick to offer a listening ear and point me in the right direction,” says Aaron Lee, current BGAV Disaster Response Coordinator. “He was so excited last week to learn our feeding units would be serving at First Baptist Church of Wallace, NC, because that was his home church as a boy.”

                    “Lloyd Jackson is, without doubt, the father of Virginia Baptist Disaster Response Ministries,” adds Dean Miller, Mission Development Team Leader and previous Disaster Response Coordinator. “His compassion and leadership has guided Baptists nationwide to serve those in need during perhaps their most vulnerable periods of life. His personal influence among the leadership of Virginia Baptists has left an everlasting mark on our lives.”

                    Information about a memorial service will be forthcoming. Thank you for your prayers for the Jackson family.

                      Louisiana Flood Response – Update

                      louisiana flood 2016

                      Post updated: 9/29/16 at 3:50pm

                      To date, 29 Virginia Baptist Disaster Response volunteers have served more than 1,133 hours to assist Louisiana flood victims continue the cleanup and rebuilding process.

                      Virginia Baptists have been faithful and generous in their financial giving to support relief efforts.

                      Opportunities to serve now focus on the long-term rebuilding efforts, and volunteers will be encouraged to work alongside one of our Virginia Baptist partners already at work in Louisiana.

                      Update from 8/24/16 at 9:45am

                      As flood waters continue to subside across Louisiana, residents are returning home to assess the damages and begin to make plans for cleaning up. Local Baptist leaders last week highlighted the widespread needs across the I-10/I-12 corridor from Texas to Alabama.

                      Photo%20Aug%2022%2c%205%2012%2036%20PMA BGAV team arrived in Baton Rouge on Sunday to begin cleanup efforts. Additional teams are currently being assembled.

                      When teams enter a home, they must remove every wet item which cannot be cleaned, including wall board, insulation, flooring, furniture, clothing, and personal effects. The emotional burden on the homeowner is significant, as neighbor by neighbor piles debris out by the road for disposal.

                      Teams then follow a cleaning regimen which includes industrial strength mold inhibitors, power washing, scrubbing, and shoveling out additional debris.

                      Photo%20Aug%2022%2c%205%2012%2042%20PMCalled the largest US disaster since Superstorm Sandy in 2012, flooding damaged more than 110,000 homes, businesses and churches throughout Louisiana. Consider these three ways to help after a storm.

                      You and your church can contribute to Louisiana flood relief through the BGAV. Donations will be used to assist our Baptist partners and volunteers on the ground with the cleanup and rebuilding efforts.

                      Donate Now

                      Original post: 8/19/16 at 9:00am

                      As flood relief efforts continue in West Virginia, much of Louisiana has been inundated with significant flooding over the past few days. Many homes, churches, and businesses have been affected, leaving residents without a roof over their heads, a place to worship, or a way to make a living.

                      We have been monitoring the flood and communicating with Louisiana Baptists, the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief network, and the North American Baptist Fellowship disaster network to assess needs and determine their capacity for volunteers and financial support.

                      Flood recovery volunteers are currently requested through to work alongside Louisiana Baptists across the state. Housing, showers, food, etc. will be provided at a site which will be determined after your team is assembled. After filling out the volunteer interest form, we will follow up as we are able to fill teams.

                      Teams should plan to take the necessary tools and equipment to perform cleanup type activity. Volunteers are NOT required to be flood relief trained through VBDR but are required to travel with a trained volunteer or team leader.

                      Remember, financial contributions are the best way to support the effort from afar. At this time, there are no known collections of items. Read more about why prayer, trained volunteers, and financial contributions are the best ways to support a disaster response effort.

                      Thanks for your faithful generosity and support of Virginia Baptist Disaster Response and the BGAV.

                      Donate Now

                        Monitoring the Remnants of Hermine

                        Update 9/8/2016: At this time, there are no known needs in regards to Hermine, and we are standing down all teams. Our focus continues to remain on West Virginia and Louisiana.

                        Hurricane Hermine Banner VDEM

                        As the remnants of Hurricane Hermine churn up the Eastern seaboard toward the Commonwealth, Virginia Baptist Disaster Response is monitoring conditions in advance of any potential response.

                        vbdr-web“Our partners at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management do tremendous work keeping us informed and connected to current conditions, potential threats, and response needs,” says Aaron Lee, BGAV Disaster Response Coordinator. “We will remain in close contact with local leaders to determine where and how we may be able to assist once the storm has passed.”

                        Once the storm has passed, response needs will be evaluated and volunteers will be mobilized as needed through our partners and in conjunction with local churches in the affected communities.

                        “We ask you to join us in praying for the many needs,” Lee continues, “both in the path of this storm as well as in West Virginia and Louisiana.”

                        BGAV volunteers also remain active in response efforts in Louisiana and West Virginia.

                        Churches and associations in the BGAV network can contact regional field staff or the DR office should they discover needs in their community after the storm.

                        Governor McAuliffe has declared a State of Emergency ahead of the storm, which designates state resources to monitor and respond as necessary. Individuals should follow these reminders from VDEM:

                        • Do not drive through high water. Stay at home as severe weather arrives.
                        • Know the weather terms and what you should do:
                        • Flood Watch or Flash Flood Watch: There is an increased possibility of flooding or a flash flood in your area.
                        • Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will likely occur very soon. If emergency officials advise you to evacuate, do so immediately.
                        • Flash Flood Warning: Flash flooding is occurring. Seek higher ground immediately – don’t wait for official instructions.
                        • Be prepared to evacuate. If evacuated, do not return to your home until local officials say it is safe.  After floodwaters recede, roads could be weakened and could collapse. Buildings might be unstable, and drinking water might be contaminated.
                        • Use common sense and look for information. If water is rising quickly or you see a moving wall of mud or debris, immediately move to higher ground.
                        • Do not walk through moving water. What might seem like a small amount of moving water can easily knock you down.
                        • If you depend on electricity for medical equipment or a mobility device, ensure all batteries are fully charged each day and be prepared to evacuate with extra batteries and any charging equipment you will need.
                        • If you will need to use paratransit, be sure to consider the amount of extra time you may need should evacuation be recommended. Find out now whether you will need to schedule a ride 24 hours in advance, how many personal items you are allowed to evacuate with, and whether your pets will be allowed on the paratransit vehicle.
                        • If you use durable medical equipment, need medical supplies, or take critical medications, ensure you have enough on hand for 5-7 days and include these items in your go-bag in case evacuation is recommended.
                        • Notify your support network now and start planning ahead for any disability-related or medical needs.

                          Making Mission Matters

                          Dr. Costa also helped attendees understand the work of LSESD, a BGAV mission partner in Lebanon.

                          Dr. Costa helped attendees understand the work of LSESD, a BGAV mission partner in Lebanon.

                          Posted: 5/12/16 at 11:00am. Story by Aaron Lee.

                          Participants at Mission Matters, hosted recently by the BGAV, spent a weekend wrestling with questions of why mission matters and how they can effectively engage in mission in today’s world.

                          Through worship gatherings, breakout seminars, and mission training sessions, about 200 attendees from BGAV churches across the state received practical tools and reflected on their unique calling alongside fellow Virginia Baptists on mission.

                          Dr. Nabil Costa shares with attendees about the importance of our call to mission.

                          Dr. Nabil Costa shares with attendees about the importance of our call to mission.

                          Dr. Nabil Costa, Executive Director of the Lebanese Society for Educational & Social Development (LSESD), spoke throughout the weekend about the importance of God’s call to mission.

                          “Sometimes we pray answers, not questions,” he shared during Friday evening’s gathering. “We guide God.” He challenged attendees instead to listen to God, even if, and especially when, it requires stepping outside of our comfort zones.

                          Costa also shared about the important work of LSESD as a BGAV mission partner, giving insight into their ongoing ministry to Syrian refugees, equipping of leaders for the Church in the Arab world, and continuing educational endeavors through a Baptist school and expansion of services for students with special needs.

                          Participants who are preparing for upcoming mission service in Romania and Haiti, including projects with Impact Mission Camps, completed orientation sessions to get ready for these experiences, while learning cultural specifics about their destinations and engaging with the BGAV’s emphasis on “global discipleship.”

                          Caitlin Figura, Community MIssions Coordinator, shared in breakout sessions about Virginia Baptist hunger ministries and the shift from relief to development in our mission endeavors.

                          Caitlin Figura, Community Missions Coordinator, shared in breakout sessions about BGAV hunger ministries and the shift from relief to development in our mission endeavors.

                          Sessions also included conversations around the local congregations’ role in responding to mental illness in their communities and in serving immigrant neighbors through legal aid. In addition, attendees explored how to more effectively engage churches in shifting existing local missions strategies from relief to development and in addressing hunger and food insecurity in their communities.

                          More than 80 volunteers completed certification training with Virginia Baptist Disaster Response, enabling them to respond the next time a disaster strikes. Volunteers who completed the feeding training received additional hands-on instruction, as they prepared Saturday’s lunch for conference attendees.

                          This inaugural event was an energetic gathering of diverse folks from across the BGAV on mission through a wide variety of ministries with a common calling to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world. Look for more information about the next Mission Matters event, coming this fall in the Northern Virginia region. We hope to see you there!

                            Community Development Author Leads Williamsburg Event

                            Posted: 4/21/16 at 11:25am. Article by Caitlin Figura.

                            Church leaders in the Peninsula Baptist Association (PBA) are learning how churches and ministries across the country can contribute to the “wholistic” restoration of their neighbors and under-resourced communities.

                            Noel Castellanos, CCDA CEO, presents to Peninsula Baptist Association event in Williamsburg

                            Noel Castellanos, CCDA CEO, presents to Peninsula Baptist Association’s event in Williamsburg

                            Last Saturday, the PBA hosted a CCDA Café at Williamsburg Baptist Church, bringing together local church leaders and Noel Castellanos, the Christian Community Development Association’s CEO and author of Where the Cross Meets the Street.

                            Attendees at Saturday’s event networked, shared lunch, and learned from Castellanos about “the whole work of the cross” and the Christian Community Development Association’s vision and philosophy.

                            CCDA in Williamsburg books

                            Castellanos is author of Where the Cross Meets the Street

                            Castellanos urged attendees that “the whole work of the cross” involves not only proclamation (evangelism) and discipleship (formation), but also compassion, confrontation of injustice, and the restoration and development of communities.

                            He used stories from his own life and from the biblical narrative to reveal how God places those at the margins of society into the center of His concern, suggesting that congregations must do the same through their local missions and ministries. Castellanos concluded the session by wondering aloud about “how churches can make knowledge (of poverty) a burden (to do something about it).”

                            Through the incarnation, God reveals to us the importance of proximity in our ability to minister effectively. Like the Word, we must “move into the neighborhood” (John 1:14, The Message) in order to transform it.

                            • To what has God given you or your church proximity?
                            • Who is marginalized in your own backyard?
                            • How can your church’s knowledge (of poverty) become a burden (to do something about it)?

                            The CCDA Café was the PBA’s most recent step in a long-term commitment to helping churches make a tangible difference in their communities. Associational leaders have also participated in CCDA national conferences and training events.

                            Last spring, the PBA hosted a 6-week Church and Community Cohort series, partnering with the BGAV to receive coaching and curriculum designed to help participants reach their communities in more relational, sustainable, and effective ways.

                            Most recently, the PBA is convening local pastors and leaders around issues of race, violence, and poverty in Newport News, often with representatives from the police department also in attendance. If you would like to learn more about these PBA events and opportunities, contact Melanie Lassiter, PBA Church and Community Ministry Director.

                            The BGAV has been a denominational partner of Christian Community Development Association and has supported other CCDA Cafés in recent years. Learn more about the BGAV’s connection with this national movement or BGAV’s own resources for churches committed to shifting from existing relief ministries to more developmental approaches by contacting Caitlin Figura, BGAV Community Missions Coordinator.

                            Caitlin Figura : [staff-title] Caitlin Figura
                            Community Missions Coordinator, Mission Development Staff
                            800.255.2428 or 804.915.5000 x7274

                              Weekly Food Pantry at Richmond Church Strategically Meets Community Needs

                              Posted: 2/25/16 at 11:40am. Written by Aaron Lee.

                              Each Thursday, Woodland Heights Baptist Church (Richmond) runs a Food Closet ministry out of the church’s former parsonage. This Food Closet is a ministry supported by church donations, World Hunger Funds, and an annual golf tournament. Bread donations from a local grocery store and seasonal, fresh produce from Shalom Farms supplement other food sources.

                              Caitlin Figura, Community Missions Coordinator, visited the Woodland Heights ministry recently to learn how the BGAV can better resource and partner with hunger ministries in BGAV churches.

                              The parsonage setup at Woodland Heights gives the Food Closet a warm, homey feel, and volunteers track recipients’ information and life updates in order to pray for their friends and neighbors.

                              Recently, a social worker in the community was working with a client who described, in glowing terms, the welcoming environment of a local church’s food pantry whose assistance the client had required.

                              The social worker, a member at Woodland Heights, soon experienced a surge of pride, realizing the food pantry being described was the one operated by his own church community.

                              Are you reaching your local community through a food pantry, community garden, or other hunger ministry? Contact Caitlin Figura to share an inspiring story or to inquire about receiving support from World Hunger Funds.

                              Want to learn more about food scarcity in Virginia or best practices for hunger relief? Register to join us for Mission Matters in April, and attend one of our sessions on hunger or community development!