By Tobin Perry
RICHMOND, Mo—Children have been carrying bags full of pennies, nickels and dimes into Vacation Bible School in order to donate to Southern Baptist missionaries for years. Many never see what happens through their gifts or who benefits from them.
But that changed this year at First Baptist Church of Richmond, Mo. July’s VBS at the church concluded a week of learning about Send North America: Kansas City church planter Kevin Barnes—along with other missionaries—by meeting his family on the last night and hearing how he planned to use the nearly $500 the children had collected for his ministry during the week.
“The kids were really excited,” said Cara Peoples, the FBC Richmond volunteer who coordinated the missions component of the church’s 2014 VBS. “I think it was fun for them to meet Kevin. He’s someone we’re helping just like the missionaries on the videos we watched.”
Peoples came up with the idea of contributing to a Send North America church planter after viewing the North American Mission Board website and realizing that nearby Kansas City was one of the 32 Send North America cities Southern Baptists were focusing church planting efforts upon. She then contacted Send North America: Kansas Citycoordinator Matt Marrs (@mattmarrs1), who connected her with Barnes.
On the final night of VBS, Barnes brought his family to FBC Richmond to receive the check from the church and meet the children who had sacrificially given to his ministry. He told the children that he planned on using the funds to pay for a new outreach to the homeless in the community. The funds would buy bags with toiletries, a fast-food gift card and typically some kind of gospel tract. Each bag costs the church about $15-20 to put together.
Peoples said she hopes the children understood from the week full of VBS lessons and the visit by the Barnes family that “what starts out small can do big things.”
“The church planters we saw on the videos and what Kevin is doing, they are starting out small—in houses and places like that—and they’re getting churches together to do big things and starting other churches,” said Peoples, who also serves as a Girls in Action leader at the church.
Barnes said the visit with the kids was a great encouragement for his ministry, and he appreciates the ministry that the funds they provided will now allow.
“Cara had really done an exceptional job getting the kids excited about missions in general,” said Barnes, who started Legacy Church in 2013. “Each night they had been talking about all the different missionaries, not just us. We were just happy that it worked out that we could be there for the VBS. [The kids] knew my kids’ names. They asked pertinent questions in regards to what we were doing in Kansas City. They were very engaged.”
Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board.