Tiller Watson, lead pastor of Turn Church in Tulsa, Okla., inspired fellow pastors and volunteers at the Send Relief Serve Tour rally on October 15. His church was one of 47 that participated in the first ever stop of the Send Relief Serve Tour.
“When people are at their most vulnerable point,” Watson shared, “stepping in to meet that tangible need is how [the church] gets our foot in the door.”
Hundreds of volunteers from churches all over the state of Oklahoma and across the United States proved Watson right as they showed up for their neighbors in the city of Tulsa, met tangible needs and built lasting relationships with the local community.
Over the weekend, Southern Baptists blessed the city center and suburbs through a variety of service projects. Whether it was blessing local schools with fresh paint and landscaping or revitalizing struggling churches, every volunteer met an urgent need through gospel-driven outreach.
Chris Guthrie, member of Church Inside Out, was one of the 37 project leaders who made Serve Tour Tulsa possible. He organized and managed the volunteer team from Eastern Heights Baptist Church serving the residents of Mobile Manor, a local mobile home community in Sapulpa, Okla. “Really what we are trying to do is build relationships with the people in this mobile home community, show the love of Jesus and be His hands and feet,” Guthrie explained. “We’re just normal people, but we really like to share the gospel!”
Ms. Jackie, a Mobile Manor resident, had been in desperate need of a new deck to her mobile home, but she didn’t have the money or manpower to get it repaired. Thankfully, a group of volunteers rebuilt her deck from scratch, and now it’s safe for her to enjoy!
Bo Holland, volunteer pastor for Living Hope Baptist Church, is helping the historically Native American church carry out their vision of being a church for everyone. Over the last couple of years, the church has focused on revitalizing and increasing their attendance, and now they are looking outward to revitalize the community around them.
Living Hope has tried several times to fund the construction of a covered porch for their church and repair the leaking roof, but their requests were turned down time and time again. Holland could only remind his church that God will provide, and He did. Volunteers with the Serve Tour took care of all of their building needs, free of charge.
“Having Serve Tour come here to our community has brought so much hope to our church members,” Holland shared. “Sometimes they feel like no one knows we’re here, but to have this much action and movement around this community has been great.”
Jeremy Rhodes, associate pastor of Eastwood Baptist Church, was the project manager for all of the projects in Eastwood, Okla., a suburb of Tulsa that has a predominately Hispanic community. For years, the SBC Hispanic churches in the area have been trying to come together with a strategy to reach the community around them for Christ, but barriers kept getting in their way.
“[Eastwood Anglo pastors] felt like we really needed to rally the help of local Hispanic churches in Tulsa to do this event together,” Rhodes said. “We wanted to step to the side and let the Hispanic churches lead.”
Months of planning and collaboration between Anglo and Hispanic churches in Eastwood culminated in multiple churches hosting block parties, serving local schools and even providing a free soccer camp for kids in the community.
Garner Road Baptist Church in Eastwood is currently working through the process of revitalization, and a key part of that plan is engaging in compassion ministry. Surrounded by a predominately Hispanic community, Garner Road decided to participate in the Send Relief Serve Tour to host a soccer camp and block party for the community.
“Serve Tour provided a momentous opportunity,” Rhodes emphasized. “There is a lot of unity being built here for the Hispanic churches in Tulsa, and we are excited to see what’s to come in the future from this unity.”
Over on the west side of Tulsa, Pastor Scott Bryan and his team from Cognizant Church knew that they wanted to serve West Clifton Elementary School to strengthen that relationship. After speaking with the school administration, it was clear to Bryan that the school was in need of some life and color. For the Serve Tour, Cognizant Church hired professional mural artists to paint murals onto the hallways of the school. Where the walls were currently a dull white, the artists would add vibrancy and make the elementary school feel like an elementary school.
“Our aim is to make Jesus known to all people in all walks of life, one conversation at a time, and this includes reaching Clinton West Elementary,” Bryan shared. “This act of kindness will help us build trust with the school and open up to opportunity for more partnerships with the parents and children in the future.”
As Oklahoma Baptists reached out to their communities, they provided a reminder of why Southern Baptists partner together—compassion ministry opens doors for building relationships and changing lives through the hope of the gospel.
The Send Relief Serve Tour may be coming to a city near you! Check out this full list of dates and locations for future tour stops to see how you can get involved.
Published October 20, 2021