CLEVER – With help from the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) SEND Relief mobile dental clinic, the First Baptist Church here saved their community an estimated $21,000 and opened doors for gospel conversations during an outreach, Aug. 9-12.
FBC Clever offered dental services, at no cost, to people in their community, and the church even covered the cost of medications prescribed by the dentists. As a result, 34 clients and their families were served throughout the weekend.
According to Pastor Brian Jump, this was the fourth consecutive year that FBC Clever has used SEND Relief’s state-of-the-art mobile dental clinic. Even local dentists, who were recruited by the church to serve during the weekend event, said that the mobile clinic provides a high quality dental environment, with high quality tools. The church had to pay a few thousand dollars to rent and operate the clinic, with the help of NAMB staff. But, according to Jump, these operating costs were nothing compared to the financial and spiritual benefits that they were able to bring to their community because of the mobile clinic.
Jump, who also serves on the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Executive Board, said the church’s aim in this event was to do good deeds in the community that would win good will among members of the community. But these acts of service are “always gospel centered,” he added.
“If we’ll do enough good works, we’ll get good will in the community, which opens the door to the Good News,” Jump told The Pathway. “We don’t just want to do good things for people. We want it ultimately to end with a relationship with God. That’s our goal.”
This goal has been a key factor in the church’s growth during the past five years. Today, the church – located in rural Missouri, roughly 30 minutes southwest of Springfield – has a weekly attendance of more than 500 people. But, when Jump first arrived, it had only 60 members. Nevertheless, according to Jump, they were “60 solid members who loved Jesus and the community.” It took little time for him to realize that, as a congregation, they had “a gift of hospitality” and great potential for making an impact in their community through outreach events. So, in order to focus this hospitality toward the community, they established an outreach special events team at the church.
As a result, the SEND Relief mobile dental clinic is only one among many outreach efforts that the church organizes throughout the year. They also host a back-to-school bash in August, handing out 400 bags with school supplies and offering free, high-quality haircuts and eye exams. Also, as local teachers and administrators meet in preparation for the school year, they serve them breakfast and give them a nice coffee mug. The church also hosts a fall festival with food trucks and inflatables. And, during the Christmas season, they organize their very own “Operation Clever Christmas Child,” a local outreach for underprivileged children in the community who each receive a bag filled with quality presents, as well as a new Bible.
Although FBC Clever reassesses its outreach efforts each year, Jump said the SEND Relief mobile dental clinic has been worth the church’s expense and effort. For one thing, he said, some members at the church today first came to FBC Clever because of the dental clinic.
As such, Jump encourages Missouri Baptist churches to consider whether the ministry would be helpful in their own communities. To learn more about it, visit the NAMB website at https://www.sendrelief.org/poverty/medical/.
As a NAMB initiative, the SEND Relief clinic is just one among many ministries made possible because of Southern Baptist’s generous giving through the Cooperative Program.