This year, the National Baptist Convention’s Foreign Missions Youth Division has been busy hosting local youth rallies to collect and package school supplies, clothes and financial donations to send abroad to support needy youth in foreign countries. The success of these youth rallies is credited to two local leaders, the Rev. Tamieka N. Moore of Tenth Memorial Baptist Church, and Sister Chauncee A. Thornton of Greater Enon Missionary Baptist Church.
Moore and Thornton are educating and engaging youth (and churches) about the severe plight of youth in impoverished countries, and the need to support them via foreign missionary work.
Moore and Thornton serve as officers with the Foreign Missions Board of the National Baptist Convention, in the roles of Youth Director and Assistant Youth Director, respectively. The Foreign Mission Board is the official foreign missions branch of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. The Foreign Mission Board supports mission stations in 11 countries in the continent of Africa, the Caribbean and Central America, via ministry initiatives that include clergy training, support of churches and church planting. The board also supports health care services through hospitals and clinics, schools, and economic development.
Thornton said their goal is “to make sure we re-engage the youth that are a part of National Baptist, and beyond.” Another goal is to educate them on the importance of active foreign mission service and the goals of the Foreign Missions Youth Division.
This year, the Foreign Missions Youth Division has organized three successful youth rallies in Philadelphia. More rallies are planned to support other foreign countries that have needs. Each rally is hosted by a local church and each church focuses its charitable collections and donations efforts to support a specific needy foreign country. The schedule of the three completed rallies has included: Nicaragua on March 3 at New Hope Temple Baptist Church; Swaziland on May 19 at Greater Enon Missionary Baptist Church; and Malawi on Aug. 11 at New Gethsemane Baptist Church.
The aforementioned foreign territories are some of the poorest countries in the world. The average annual per capita income for a person in Nicaragua is $3,200 (data in U.S. dollars in 2011); in Swaziland its $5,200 and in Malawi its $900.
Thornton is zealous about engaging youth for active ministry service abroad where there’s a great need for such assistance.
“Our hope and our prayer is that, not only to get them to support our missions nations abroad, but also have them consider missions as a first career choice,” she said.
Moore, 36, concurs. She believes that while many youth may not be able to physically travel abroad to actively serve in foreign locations, youth can “go” in other supportive ways, via collection and donation of finances, heading up letter writing campaigns, holding prayer vigils, etc.
One of Moore’s strategic goals is to empower the foreign communities they support to become more self-sufficient, versus being ever reliant on the support from her Foreign Missions Board.
“Our Foreign Missions Board, of course, works to extend our arm to the foreign missions field, to help meet both short term and long term needs,” she said. “Ideally, with the Foreign Missions Board, our goal is to move from a more paternal relationship to an independent relationship.”
Under Moore’s leadership, she created the I Am initiative. She said this ministry initiative promotes the engagement of individual youth and youth groups to serve in foreign missions. According to Moore, the I Am initiative is all about individual and group service.
“[It’s] the notion that I AM, YOU ARE, WE ARE the Foreign Mission Board,” she said. “Each of us has a responsibility to ensure the success of this work.”
Moore said New Gethsemane Baptist Church is a national trailblazing model for planning and executing successful missions campaigns abroad.
“They have a heart for foreign missions, they truly set the standard,” said Moore. “For the past 20 years, they have been the largest (financial) contributor to the work of foreign missions. Every year they give no less than $50,000. This is not a mega church that we’re talking about; they have put the work of foreign missions in the forefront of their ministry work.”
Rev. Samuel B. Jordan Jr., is the senior pastor of New Gethsemane Baptist Church, located in Germantown.
To make charitable donations or for more information about the National Baptist Convention’s Foreign Missions Youth Division, contact the Foreign Mission Board office, 701 South 19th Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19146 or cal (215) 735-9853. Its website is www.fmbnbc.org.