Meadow Oaks Baptist Church is a small church in Temple, Texas, with an average Sunday morning attendance of 90. Though a decade ago the church had dwindled down to a core group of senior citizens, today the number of young families is growing. The church had not planned a mission trip for many years, so Pastor Lillian Hinds wanted to engage the congregation in a meaningful mission activity that would be narrow in focus, something in which members of all ages could participate and be involved.
Literacy Connexus provided the perfect opportunity by helping us plan a reading fair at Iglesias Bautista Piniel, a Spanish-speaking church near the Mexican border in Eagle Pass, Texas. We were able to do most of the work for the trip here at home, building and painting book cases and gathering children's books. Everyone in the church, young and old, could help with this, whether they painted book cases, shopped for children's books, or contributed funds to purchase bi-lingual Bibles and books. The trip itself only required a Friday and Saturday, so it was fairly easy to fit into the schedules of those who work full time but wanted to make the trip.
The project was a great success. With the help of a $1,000 grant from a group of Missouri Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), as well as local donations, we collected 967 books and Bibles for the fair. Our congregation bought materials and built and painted 30 bookcases to distribute, and the church members in Eagle Pass were able to use the opportunity to reach out to families with young children in their neighborhood, most of whom were not members of the church.
We were drawn to this project when we read about the serious problem illiteracy poses in this area of the country. What we never anticipated was that we would discover our host church faces many of the same issues that we face in our own church. As Pastor Felipe Garcia shared his experiences with us, we saw that his congregation, like ours, is concerned about how to attract families with children and youth and how to grow as a church.
"It was truly a blessing to discover that, though our communities are very different, our churches face many of the same challenges and are united in our desire to share God's love with those in need," said Pastor Lillian Hinds. "It was a great experience, and we are already planning how we can take a group down to Eagle Pass next summer, to offer our assistance in their efforts once again."
Chair of Meadow Oaks Missions Committee