Posted: 2/4/16 at 8:15am. Article by Linda Peay.
The basic needs of life are water, shelter and clothing. Once these necessities are achieved, people are able to look beyond themselves in order to assist others.
Dr. Wayne Guynn, pastor of Olive Branch Baptist Church outside South Hill, worked with the church’s missions coordinator to seek out mission opportunities for the church, leading them to BGAV’s More than Nets. More than Nets is a project agreement with the Ghana Baptist Convention to share the gospel by reducing the spread of malaria and planting churches.
“When we were seeking where we could go, we noted that More Than Nets included planting churches,” Dr. Guynn said. “God led us to this opportunity…no other organizations offered this as part of the experience.”
In March 2014, Dr. Guynn and six church members traveled to the Yendi region of Ghana in support of More than Nets. While there, they worked with Pastor Emmanuel “Muss” Mustapha from the Ghana Baptist Convention. Their trip included interaction with the local people by distributing mosquito nets, planting churches, and assisting with baptisms.
Muss shared his vision to share the gospel with the people, distribute nets to prevent malaria, and to provide access to more water wells, called “boreholes.” From his experience, Muss explained that the people will be more ready to listen to the Good News if their personal needs are met.
While some areas of Yendi are equipped with ample water wells nearby, other villagers have to walk for miles to get clean water, taking a whole day to complete the journey. The fact that water wasn’t simply available to all of the people weighed heavily on the heart of Constance Hammond, one of the church’s mission volunteers.
While in Yendi, Hammond observed that the people had plenty of food to eat, yet they lacked water resources for food, bathing and laundry. “It was shocking to see people walking seven miles both ways for water,” she recalled. “They found it hard to hold church services because there was a constant, daily need for water – they needed the time to go get the water.”
She and her husband, Dan, returned home to Virginia, and while the More Than Nets project carried great meaning and continues to make a difference, they could not shake the need for water. Hammond shared that while they prayed for Yendi and for access to water, the couple felt led to act. Not only would they plan to return, but the Hammonds aimed to raise enough money to provide wells for the Yendi community.
The goal was no small feat; each borehole (a type of well) costs $2,500. The Hammonds sought to raise enough money for six boreholes to send to Muss in Yendi. “It was going to take more than a spaghetti supper to garner those funds,” said Dr. Guynn. “But Constance had a different approach she had seen in other places.”
In addition to sponsoring a dinner, Hammond wanted to plan a unique event that included church members and was open to the local community. Thus, “The Missions Banquet: Water for Yendi” was born, to take place in the fall.
She got the ball rolling by talking to Rev. Kevin Rosenfeld, pastor of First Baptist Church of South Hill, where her children attend school. In those conversations, Hammond discovered that Rev. Rosenfeld is also a trained chef. Olive Branch landed affordable advertising through church connections, including free graphic design and interviews and ads on local radio stations.
Rev. Rosenfeld offered the food for the four-course meal at cost. Girls from a community youth organization volunteered as servers for the 180 guests at the black-tie event. While he was visiting Virginia, Pastor Muss attended and spoke firsthand about the needs of his homeland.
Items such as timeshare vacation weeks, framed arts, and even a rifle were put up for auction and raffle. Sunday School classes sponsored themed baskets for the cause. Other guests chose to donate directly to the effort, including one who gave enough for an entire well.
Even though the total receipts fell short of the original goal, Olive Branch Baptist Church was able to raise over $11,000 to purchase four wells for Yendi. The mission group is looking forward to going back to Yendi in March to view the wells they helped finance and to continue the work of distributing nets and planting churches through More Than Nets.
“Our office was thrilled to be able to make this connection for Olive Branch and walk alongside them offering assistance where we could.” Dean Miller, team coordinator for the BGAV Mission Development staff, said. “It is always great to see people come away from an experience with their eyes opened up to needs and to be able to respond through the lenses of their own gifts and skills.”
Learn more about how your church can be involved with More Than Nets.