By Lonnie Wilkey
NASHVILLE — One church had the labor force; another church had the funds.
Put the two together and Liberty Baptist Church in Nashville has some renovated facilities they could not otherwise have had.
Ray Fairchild, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church and a former Southern Baptist missionary in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, said the work performed by Garrison Baptist Church in Dayton and funded in part by Belle Aire Baptist Church in Murfreesboro “has been a lifesaver” for his congregation.
“It’s been a miracle,” he said of the work that was done in late June as part of City Reach Nashville, an effort designed to bring Tennessee Baptist churches to the five major metropolitan areas in the state (Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga and Clarksville) to do missions projects in order to reach the areas with the gospel.
Liberty Baptist, which is in the process of church revitalization, desperately needed some remodeling and repairs made in order to meet the needs of a changing neighborhood, Fairchild explained. “We didn’t have any money to do the work which included renovating the church’s bathrooms and replacing a floor in the kitchen, along with several other needed repairs.
Belle Aire Baptist had assisted the church in the past, said Steve Holt, church services director for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board and interim pastor at the Murfreesboro church.
He said the church has helped Liberty Baptist for the past year with both “hands-on” labor and funds.
Belle Aire was unable to send volunteers the week of June 17 but was more than willing to help provide funds for needed repairs at Liberty Baptist, he said.
“Belle Aire has a true missions heart and is heavily involved in praying, giving and going through a true ‘Acts 1:8’ strategy that includes Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the United States and the world,” Holt noted.
With funds in hand, Liberty needed volunteers to do the work. Enter Garrison Baptist Church, a rural congregation from Dayton that has been sending out mission teams across the nation — and the world — for the past 19 years.
The church normally has gone outside the state for mission projects but this year wanted to do a trip inside the state to encourage more family participation, said Jackie Breeden, wife of Garrison Baptist pastor Mike Breeden. The couple coordinates the trips each year.
Mrs. Breeden said she contacted the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board and was put in contact with Mark Harvey, who is coordinating City Reach Nashville for the Nashville Baptist Association.
He sent her a list of projects and when she saw the needs at Liberty Baptist, those seemed to fit what the church members enjoyed doing. After she contacted Fairchild and spoke with him, “I knew this was it,” she said.
She said the match was a perfect fit for the Garrison volunteers who enjoy helping “rehab” churches. In addition, the trip enabled families to “come and go” as they could help during the week. The church normally had 10-12 members, if not more, each day, Mrs. Breeden said.
The church has its own missions trailer, complete with a washer/dryer, shower facilities and room for tools, that they take to their mission sites.
Volunteers usually stay at the job site as long as they have access to a kitchen and Sunday School rooms where they can sleep, Mrs. Breeden said.
The Garrison team was excited to be able to help the Liberty Baptist congregation. “We feel that God has used us to complete part of a puzzle,” Mrs. Breeden observed. “He sees the big picture and knows what is needed.”
Though the Garrison church did buy some flooring materials, they normally do not have funds to buy building materials for their projects. “It’s an honor that God would use us. I had a sense this was where we needed to go,” she affirmed.
Liberty Baptist church member Joe Davis said the Garrison volunteers “have been an answer to prayers.” The team was wonderful, Davis affirmed. “They have done more than we ever anticipated. We have been blessed to have several churches help us,” he added.
Garrison pastor Mike Breeden said the mission trips have been good for the church over the years. He noted that he always reminds members that “you’re saved to serve.”
“These trips give them an opportunity to put their faith in action and a place to serve,” Breeden said. The trips also give volunteers an opportunity to tell others about Jesus, he added. “We’re here to share the gospel,” he stressed. “The work is a means to do that.”
The couple is grateful that Garrison Baptist was able to help their brothers and sisters in Christ at Liberty Baptist.
They are especially appreciative that a church of primarily elderly people have “a heart” and desire to reach their community for Christ. “They see the need to reach out to young families and college students,” Mrs. Breeden said.
“Everyone feels blessed to be part of a team that can make a difference,” she added. “This had to be a God-thing that put us together.”
Fairchild agreed. “These folks came along at a perfect time. … We couldn’t be more pleased.” B&R