TAR HEEL — A local church has vamped up its outreach efforts during the past year and is looking forward to an even bigger 2016.
About one year ago, the Rev. Devon Varnam challenged his congregation, after studying the book of Nehemiah, to get back to the basics and to “Connect, Grow, and Share.” After connecting with Tar Heel Baptist, members were challenged to grow through Sunday School and share the love of Christ with the community. That new focus was approved by the Deacon Board and received eagerly by the church in an effort to refocus on the community.
Out of that initiative has sprung numerous attempts to reach out. Each Sunday School class has partnered with a local agency to meet specific needs.
“I challenged each class to figure out what they were passsionate about and where God was leading them, and to serve Him there,” said Varnam.
The Fellowship Explorers class, led by Jimmy Allen, has adopted Tar Heel Middle School. They met with a school improvement team to determine the needs that existed at the school and began efforts to meet those needs. They currently provide Release Time, a Bible education program in Bladen County, that meets at the church. They also buy coats and give hygiene items to students and provide lunch to the staff one time a month at the church. Food is also provided to students on the weekend, students whose only meals during the week are the ones they get at school.
Additionally, the class has partnered with a church in El Salvador, and, through Kendrick Ministries, is planning a mission trip that will potentially provide church services and work with schools in El Salvador at some time in the future.
Another group, the Faith class, along with a senior adult class, is providing suppport to hospice patients at Lower Cape Fear Hospice in Lumberton. They take blankets, provide snacks, and stock kitchens for families of hospice patients and visit with patients. The Faith class has collected blankets to distribute to local nursing homes.
The College and Career class has partnered with Southeastern Carolina Crossroads, a local rehabilition program for men, and helps provide food and other needs. The men are able to attend Bible studies led by the church members once a month. The class has also started the Five Two Heaven Food Pantry and are distributing food to people in need in the community. A future mission trip to New York City is currently being prayed over.
“Incredible things are taking place. We’ve seen the school improvement team come to worship, had many visitors, and Sunday School attendance has increased from about 50 to 93 or 95,” says Varnam. “It’s a great time to be at Tar Heel Baptist. We can’t wait to see what God is doing. Our goal is to just share the love of Jesus Christ.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.