Members from the Standifer Gap Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, went on a mission trip in November 2021 to south Georgia, in partnership with the Georgia-Cumberland Conference’s Leads program. The program helps connect churches with those who have requested Bible studies or Adventist literature through various media ministry channels. This trip in particular was important for reaching an area of Georgia that does not have much of an Adventist presence, but still has many people who are hungry for the Lord. Participants also visited the local Seventh-day Adventist churches to facilitate Bible work training.
Starting in May of 2021, the Standifer Gap Church was assigned more than 120 contacts from as far back as 2016 to early 2021. Looking to organize the program, Standifer Gap Church hired Bible work coordinator Noah Banks to help train the church members in Bible work. David Sitler, Standifer Gap pastor, and Banks began to formulate creative ideas for how to reach these contacts and their communities. One of these ideas developed into the mission trip. After getting the trip organized, the dates were set for November 17-21, 2021. Four college students, two Bible workers, two conference Bible workers, Banks, and Sitler went to southern Georgia to work in God’s mission field.
“Standifer Gap partnered with Douglass and Waycross churches to help provide assistance virtually with individual and group Bible studies, but follow-up was difficult online, so mission trips were needed,” says Lavinia Collins, Conference Leads program coordinator. “We had assumed that since the population was lower in these areas that there wouldn’t be as many leads, but hundreds responded. Chattanooga has the opposite problem; we have many soldiers who want to do Bible work, but there aren’t as many leads. Douglass and Waycross are both smaller churches as well, so they don’t have the resources or the workers needed to connect with all those leads,” says Collins. This opened an opportunity for Standifer Gap members to do mission work outside their immediate community, even when COVID restricted travel.
When the team arrived, they began scouting the areas of Jesup, Alma, Baxley, and Hazlehurst. They were concerned with how these people would respond to strangers from Chattanooga knocking on their door, but the response was overwhelmingly positive. Over the course of five days, the group visited between 90 and 100 people. All of them were friendly and welcoming, and the studies were well-received. The team also did Bible work training for members of the Waycross Church. Many members assisted with the door-to-door visits and seemed eager to learn.
The Standifer Gap team has already planned additional trips with an even greater list of connections. Currently, there aren’t any plans to plant a church in these areas, so the Leads program wants to make sure that these individuals aren’t forgotten.
“We don’t fully understand where this will lead,” says Collins, “but we are responding to their spiritual needs. We want to keep them warm until more sustainable plans are put in place.”
Georgia-Cumberland | April 2022