Weakley County Association doesn’t use size as excuse while making impact in Music City
By Ashley Perham
Baptist & Reflector intern
NASHVILLE — Weakley County in northwest Tennessee has a little over 33,000 residents. Yet the Holy Spirit used the rural Weakley County Baptist Association to partner with City Reach Nashville this year to help Nashville churches reach the almost two million people in the region.
The association was involved in three projects in July, including putting a shower in the Nashville Baptist Association building, repairing drywall at Madison First Baptist Church and doing some repairs on a Nashville Baptist Association Disaster Relief building.
“They put a shower in so that we can host some small mission teams at our building,” said Rusty Sumrall, director of missions for the Nashville Baptist Association. “We also had some renovation and painting done in some other parts of our building.”
Twenty-one people from eight different churches came on the trip, said Phil Mitchell, director of missions for the Weakley County Baptist Association.
“I guess our favorite part is just being able to assist the association in the Nashville area. We just want to come and minister to people here,” he said.
Mitchell, along with other members of the team, pointed out how God always fit the jobs to the skill-set of the workers on the trip.
“A lot of times when we’re going places … as soon as we get to the job site, it seems like everybody fits the jobs that we need done,” said Duane Jackson of First Baptist Church Dresden.
“We do kind of whatever,” said Dean Austin of The Shepherd’s Field Church.
Pete Staples, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, Dresden, is one example of a man whose skill-set comes in handy. Staples has been a plumber for 35 years and has been on 13 mission trips.
“There’s always a plumbing job to do,” said Mitchell.
“I know it’s the greatest work I ever loved,” said Staples. He said, he, like many members of the team, uses his vacation time to come on these trips.
The Weakley Baptist Association has participated in partnerships with Ohio, Iowa and West Virginia, along with taking international trips to places such as Puerto Rico. Last year, the association stayed in their own county and assisted their own churches and church members.
“We haven’t seen a lot of salvations in what we do because when you’re doing hands-on work like this, we’re not on the streets preaching, or we’re not out in the neighborhoods witnessing,” said Mitchell. “So we see God working in the fact that He helps us to complete the jobs that we set out to do.”
Many times, the team splits into ministry teams and service teams, with ministry teams leading Vacation Bible School or Bible clubs. This year, however, the team is only working on service projects.
There are several first-timers on the trip this year, including three teenagers. However, there are also people on the trip who have been doing mission trips for as long as 20 years.
Austin said he hopes the first-timers learn that these trips are one way to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
“People say, ‘Why are y’all here?’ Well, because we love you, because the Lord says He loves you, and He compels me to love you too,” Austin shared. “And I’m going to show that in a very real and practical way.”
“There’s so many needs,” Mitchell said. “The Great Commission says we work at home, we do work in our state, we do work in our nation, and then we go to the ends of the earth. There’s plenty of work to do … You just got to have the commitment to do it.”
Sumrall said that the City Reach Nashville trips have been a real encouragement to churches in the area.
“A few of the churches have developed ongoing partnerships, and churches have come in more than once and that has really helped them move forward in their ministry here in Nashville,” he said.
“I think it’s been a strong support, helping reach out to some areas that we haven’t reached out to before.” B&R