March 10th, 2010 at 3:43 am
CORSICANA – Johnny Hudgens walks a mile to get to services at Cornerstone Baptist Church nearly every Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening. He’s done it for three years, looking forward to how God will move in the church each time.
Recently, the trip was a little tougher. And a little more joyous.
Hudgens lugged a white bucket with him filled with 30 pounds of food, releasing it from his tired arms when he got to the church. He’s one of thousands of Texas Baptists who have given a Bucket of Hope – bucket-loads of food for victims of January’s Haiti earthquake.
“The Lord wanted me to help someone else who doesn’t have what I have,” he said. “God doesn’t want me to be selfish.”
Texas Baptists have collected more than 9,000 Buckets of Hope – roughly 270,000 pounds of food for Haitians. The buckets are being brought to five regional locations across the state where the Southern Baptist Convention North American Mission Board will pick them up and transport them to Florida before taking them into Haiti. The food will be used through contacts Florida Baptists have had in Haiti for years as a result of a long partnership.
Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano collected more than 3,000 Buckets of Hope. Fifty-two churches from the Basin Baptist Network collected more than 700 Buckets of Hope. Cornerstone Baptist Church in Corsicana collected more than 500, as did Parkway Baptist Church in College Station. Congregations in the Wichita-Archer-Clay Association collected roughly 500 Buckets of Hope.
“Buckets of Hope are continuing to pour into our more than 50 Texas Baptist drop-off locations and six collection points located across the state,” said Texas Baptists’ Church2Church Partnerships Coordinator Marla Bearden, who is coordinating the effort throughout the state in partnership with Texas Baptist Men. “Texas Baptists have embraced the idea of collecting enough food to feed a Haitian family for one week. This one simple act of purchasing a relatively small amount of food and placing it in a five-gallon bucket along with $10 for shipping has turned into a beautiful expression of the love and support Texas Baptists have for the devastated people in Haiti.”
TBM Executive Director Leo Smith said the Buckets of Hope campaign empowers Texas Baptists to care for hurting people in Haiti.
“It’s just another way for church people to help people in Haiti,” Smith said. “This way chidlren and adults can be involved and know that it is going to a specific family. It’s a family ministering to another family. That’s what makes it special.”
Wayne Keller, intentional interim pastor at First Baptist Church in Sterling City, said the Buckets of Hope campaign empowered the congregation to participate in “hands-on” missions. No matter how old or young, members embraced the effort. One church member walked in with a cane in one hand and a sack of groceries in the other. Another church member came in with a walker and a sack of groceries on top of it.
“It was just fun to see them get involved in it and realizing that each one of those buckets was going to feed a Haitian family and in each of those was going to be a Creole tract that would help them know how to come to the Lord,” Keller said.
Ted Gross, director of missions for the Burnett-Llano Baptist Association, said six of the association’s churches and one non-Baptist congregation contributed roughly 200 Buckets of Hope. The food drive provides a practical way for Baptists to meet needs in Haiti, which could lead to avenues through which the gospel can be shared.
“We recognize the need for food to be supplied in Haiti,” Gross said. “We also recognized that through that ‘good work’ there would be an opportunity to share the gospel.”
Ed Geron, director of missions for the Concho Valley Baptist Association, said people across the community eagerly responded to an opportunity to help Haitians. Large churches and small churches participated. Baptists and non-Baptists helped. Groups, families and individuals collected buckets.
“It’s been a very positive experience for us out here,” Geron said. “People were more than willing to want to bring hope to the Haitians who were so devastated by the earthquake.”
Bearden urged Texas Baptists to continue praying for Haitians affected by the earthquake and for those who are ministering to them.
“We ask that you continue to pray for the people of Haiti, pray that this food reaches the people who need it,” she said. “Pray for the safety of those who will be distributing these Buckets of Hope. Pray that God will bless each family that receives a Bucket of Hope in a very special way that communicates the love that Texas Baptists are putting into each bucket that they prepare.”