Mission team from county spends week in Venezuela

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 20, 2006

A mission team from Crenshaw County spent a week, June 24 – July 1, in Maracaibo, Venezuela, ministering to people who live near the city dump and obtain their sustenance from it.

The 22-member team was sponsored by Four Corners Ministries, headquartered in Wadley, Alabama.

Carolyn Gholston was team leader and was assisted by Will Tate.

Gholston's son-in-law, Pastor Tripp Skipper of First Baptist Church in Wadley, is a leader in Four Corners Ministries and along with his wife Sara recruited the Crenshaw County team.

Churches represented on the team were South Luverne Baptist, Luverne United Methodist, Brantley UMC, Mt. Zion Baptist, and Danielville Baptist.

The group partnered with ITAM (It Took A Miracle) in Maracaibo, college-age Venezuelans, who led them to various villages, taught them, and served them.

Bonds of friendship were formed within the team, with the ITAM people, and with the local church people who assisted in ministry.

This was the second mission trip for some of the members.

A pharmacist from Wedowee, Harold Harmon, and his wife Delores, after serving a week in Maracaibo, joined the Crenshaw County team for the Harmons' second week.

They had also helped to prepare the team over the last several months in its collection of medicines and vitamins for the medical clinic.

Obstacles the team encountered were a cancelled flight resulting in a detour to Caracas, sleeping in the airport, and confiscated luggage, 44 bags!

Much negotiating by the ITAM workers and a serious prayer meeting by the team took place before customs officials in Maracaibo finally released all but five of the suitcases two days later.

Half of the luggage consisted of supplies for ministry – medicine, vitamins, school supplies, toys, Bibles, literature, candy, and hygiene items.

The medical bags were never released, but the team bought medicine locally, and the medical clinics were a great success.

The pharmacy people said they saw medicine multiplied similar to the loaves and fishes miracle!

The medical clinic treated 550 patients.

Prayer was given along with the examinations.

Other ministries in the villages were a photo ministry, construction of a mission house, carnival ministry with the children, giving out food sacks, prayer, and music and puppet show. The team was blessed to see a completed mission house, situated next to a school, that was paid for by their money.

The team was also blessed to receive friendship bracelets from the local outreach church, Fuente de Amor, in a final service of thanksgiving.

There were many hugs and tears as the team said their farewells to the church members who had worked alongside them all week.

The Crenshaw County mission team gave a report at South Luverne Baptist Church on Sunday night, July 9.

Will Tate called on several to share their experiences.

Their first words were words of thanks to the people who had contributed money, prayers, and other forms of support which made it possible for them to go to Venezuela.

J. R. Roberts said the mission was the greatest spiritual experience of his life.

One of his joys was distributing 150 AirTech caps.

Dr. Charles Tompkins said he could really feel the prayers of the people back home.

He was so blessed by how the team bonded.

Ashley Kilcrease admitted he tried to find reasons not to go.

He was skeptical at first, especially when the flight was cancelled, but he soon realized that being in Venezuela was the most rewarding thing he had ever done.

He plans to go back next year.

Brittany Daniels was in tears as she showed a gift that one of the children had brought to the airport for her.

Spring Tate pointed out how destitute the people were, not having jobs, not being able to go to the doctor or even to school, and yet Americans take all these things for granted.

Nancy Petrey admitted to being the oldest person on the team but due to the prayers of many, she had the stamina needed for the hardships encountered.

She was blessed by seeing the selflessness of the team.

She also was assured that the Lord had led her to learn to play the ukulele, because she found out that in Venezuela the ukulele, called a quatro, is a popular instrument.

Her vision of seeing the little children surround her as she played was realized.

The testimonies were followed by a showing of the video made in Venezuela of the various ministries the team engaged in.

Poignant scenes of Venezuelans scavenging for needed items from the city dump elicited heartfelt comments from team members on camera.

Images of caring were blended with images of Jesus taken from footage of the Jesus film, Matthew version.

It was a moving presentation.

After the church service all were invited to stay for a cookout of barbecued chicken and ribs, hamburgers, hotdogs, and homemade ice cream prepared by members of South Luverne Baptist.

The Crenshaw County Four Corners mission team was full of joy for having answered the Great Commission of Jesus, &#8220Go ye into all the world and make disciples.”

They are now recruiting others for the mission next summer.

Some of the team will share at Mt. Zion Baptist Church this Sunday night.

Anyone interested in this ministry may contact Carolyn Gholston at 335-5752.

To learn more about Four Corners Ministries go to www.4cornersministries.org.

Accounts of the Crenshaw County mission are still on the web site.