A year ago during the summer, Jim Furgerson, pastor of Tilden Baptist Church, walked the streets of his tiny town in South Texas. He counted just 65 residences.
Then something happened. Oilrigs started popping up on ranches in the area. Many fracking tank trucks and 18-wheelers began to fill the roads. Small RV parks appeared on any patch of land available in town. And more and more people moved to the area.
When Jim surveyed the town just a few weeks ago, he saw about 100 RVs that had been in the town for less than six weeks.
Jim said it’s hard not to notice the changes in the area since the oil industry and new residents have overwhelmed Tilden, flooding the city infrastructure in areas such as sewer, electrical and water systems.
But the changes and new residents couldn’t have come at a better time.
A couple of years ago, Jim and his church of 30 resident families met with a Texas Baptists church consultant and took a good look at their ministry and influence. Through this, the Lord led them to form a new mission statement – “Real people meeting real needs in Jesus’ name.”
Even before the oilfield came to their doorstep, the church was meeting needs through their food pantry and children’s community ministry. But when it became evident that the town was growing, they knew they had a calling to meet the needs of the new residents in the name of Jesus as well.
One of the first ways the church ministered to the oilfield workers and their families was to deliver 900 welcome bags during three ministry days. The bags were filled with homemade cookies, an oilfield Bible, information about the area and emergency phone numbers. The church hoped the bags would be the first step to building relationships with the workers and their families.
But they didn’t stop there. Jim found an oilfield Bible published by the Oilfield Christian Fellowship that also included stories about oilfield workers choosing to follow Christ and walking with Him each day. The church purchased 500 Bibles, and Warren Wheeler, a church member and owner of the local general store, began giving Bibles away to his customers. The church also asked to place the Bible in common places like the laundry mat, stores and bars in the area. Within three weeks, all the Bibles were claimed.
Through the two outreach efforts, a few of the oilfield workers began to visit the church, and the members are working to meet their needs and get to know them better.
The church continues to pray for other ways to building relationship with oilfield workers and to share the hope of Christ with them. They see this opportunity as one not only to bless those now living in their town but also to spread the hope of Christ to the nations.
“In our little town here in McMullen County, we have a lady from China. We have another lady from El Salvador. People from all over the world are coming to South Texas, and they are coming to Tilden. God is brining the world to us,” Jim said.
Join Tilden Baptist Church and other South Texas churches as they pray for the mission field that has been placed at their doorstep and look for ways to meet the needs of oilfield workers in the name of Christ.
“I would ask that you would pray for us. That we would catch the vision, that our hearts would be broken for the men in the field, that we can learn to make contact with them where we can relate to them and become their friend. And it’s only through relationships that we will ever be able to reach these people. And it takes prayer,” Jim said.
To learn other ways that you can join Tilden Baptist Church and make the oilfield your mission field, visit texasbaptists.org/oilfield.
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