June 15th, 2012 at 6:00 am
After serving for 35 years in three Baptist churches in Texas, I became a part of the Bible Study/Discipleship Team at the BGCT in 2000. My primary area of work was centered in discipleship and with ministers of education. On January 1, 2012, God led me into a new phase of ministry. Now I am one of nine congregational strategists serving throughout Texas to build stronger relationships with pastors and churches and provide help to them in any way possible.
I have the privilege and responsibility to serve Area 8. This is a region that stretches from Hillsboro to the Red River. It includes 11 associations and over 960 churches. My first few months have been enlightening, exciting and eventful. As I began to visit these churches, I discovered that each one has a story and a distinct ministry to the community where they are located and serve. I want to share with you about an outreach ministry I recently discovered in the heart of Dallas.
For many years, ethnic work in Texas was mainly with Hispanics. Recently, there has been an increase in groups from Burma and Thailand going through resettlement in Texas. This has brought many new faces and needs to our state. Texas Baptists churches have opportunities to reach out and meet the needs of these new Texans.
Gaston Oaks Baptist Church has been experiencing this involvement for the past several years. They are located in the center of many different ethnic groups and minister to many different nationalities. One of these includes the Karen people from Burma and Thailand.
As I visited with Gary Cook, pastor of Gaston Oaks, he told me how two of his church members felt led by God to begin a refugee ministry called Hope4Refugees. This is a specific ministry that helps the Karen people in their resettlement as well as provides opportunities throughout the year for children, youth and adults to grow and develop socially, emotionally, educationally and spiritually.
Later that week, my wife and I went by and visited with Jeni Knighten and Beka Petty at the mission center. These two ladies, in charge of Hope4Refugees, introduced us to the Karen people who were there that evening. There was so much activity taking place!
Adults were working on computers in ESL and other basic tasks such as learning how to pay their electric bill and what was required to see a doctor. Youth and children were being tutored in their school assignments, and other children were playing games in the parking lot until it became too dark to see.
My heart was filled with gratefulness for these two ladies who had answered God’s call to reach out to these people. The needs are great, and volunteers are welcome. If a church or individual in the area wants a dynamic and growing mission opportunity, I urge you to go to the website http://www.hope4refugees.org and find ways your gifts can be used in this local ministry.
By Dickie Dunn, Congregational Strategist for Area 8
Photo from Hope4Refugees.
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