Bluefield College and Virginia Baptist Teens Impact Southwest Virginia
One hundred forty youth from 13 Baptist churches across Virginia converged on the campus of Bluefield College, June 27-July 3, to make an "impact" on Greater Bluefield through service projects in the community.
September 20, 2010
On the Bluefield campus as part of Impact Virginia, the teens spent the early mornings and evenings each day in devotion and worship in BC's Harman Chapel, but the bulk of their daily time in the community, renovating 11 homes in Tazewell (VA) and Mercer (WV) counties.
Part of the ministry of the Virginia Baptist Mission Board (VBMB), Impact Virginia is a one-week mission opportunity for youth that focuses on home repair and spiritual growth. Hundreds of teens in grades 7-12 participate in the program annually, which serves various regions of Virginia, including Greater Bluefield.
"The main goal of Impact Virginia is to make the dwellings of homeowners safer, dryer and warmer," said Bluefield College campus minister David Taylor.
The Impact youth in southwest Virginia, along with their adult leaders and crew chiefs, built decks, repaired and constructed porches, renovated roofs, and restored windows, plumbing, and more.
"One young couple just purchased a home in Pocahontas (VA), and the husband lost his job," said Impact construction coordinator Dan Agee. "He has been trying to keep his family warm in the winter, but did not have a good place to store his coal and wood. Impact was able to rebuild a roof on his storage area to keep him from having to dig out his wood and coal with the heavy snow and ice from the winter."
The teens also added space to houses and constructed ramps to provide better access to homes, and the work in many cases would not have been possible without the Virginia Baptist missionaries in Bluefield.
"These families would not have been able to make the improvements themselves," said Agee, "and local and government agencies were not able to assist them, but Virginia Baptists were, and we were able to share the love of Christ through this ministry."
Using the Bluefield College campus as missions central, the group also participated in daily devotions and worship prior to and at the end of each service day.
"Bluefield College provided the logistical support we needed with sleeping, eating and worship space," said Agee, a 1973 BC graduate. "This helps the region see the real partnership acted out between the college and Virginia Baptists. This partnership makes me even more proud to be an alumnus of Bluefield College."
As part of its mission, Bluefield College strives to be "in service to God and the global community." Collaborating with the VBMB to bring Impact Virginia to Bluefield is just one way, Taylor said, the school can fulfill its mission.
"Partnering with the Virginia Baptist Mission Board and Impact Virginia allows us to reach low-income families in Mercer and Tazewell counties," said Taylor about BC's fourth year of participation in the program. "We believe passionately in service above self and strive hard to prepare compassionate students who impact their world."
Shortly after the youth from Impact Virginia departed, the college welcomed dozens of additional missionaries from Georgia Baptist churches, who come annually to the BC campus to restore homes, support local church ministries, and share the love of the Christian faith in Greater Bluefield.
The participating churches are a part of the Hephzibah and Kilpatrick Baptist Associations in Georgia, who partner with the Mountain State Baptist Association in Princeton, West Virginia, to bring volunteers to southern West Virginia to conduct ministries in the community and to perform much-needed construction and renovation on churches and private residences.
During the weeklong mission trip headquartered at Bluefield College, the Georgia Baptist missionaries offered Vacation Bible Schools, Backyard Bible Schools, block parties, street ministry programs, prayer walks, and repair work to church and private individual facilities.