Members of First Baptist Church Windermere are on a mission to tackle the needs of people in Central Florida and in other countries.
First Baptist Church Windermere believes in its people living missional lives — whether it’s serving others locally or in other countries around the globe.
Since March, its members have served in Burundi and Kenya, both in Africa; and in the Central American countries of Guatemala and, most recently, Nicaragua. A mission trip to the Dominican Republic is scheduled for November; a trip was planned for Haiti but had to be canceled because of security concerns.
Several service projects were initiated in Central Florida, as well.
Carol Vereb is the Global Missions director at FBCW and helps coordinate all the mission trips. This summer alone, there were three.
Ray Lloyd, worship care pastor, and his wife, Amy, through Ray Lloyd Ministries, led 18 team members — 10 adults and eight college students, including their daughter, Ashley — to Nakuru, Kenya, July 1 through 13. This was Lloyd’s fifth missionary trip to Kenya.
The team assisted in a baby rescue center, His Cherished Ones, and the Springs of Hope Kenya orphanage, and they shared in schools “about the hope we have in Jesus Christ,” Ray Lloyd said.
“Each year, every team member takes 100 pounds of supplies and gifts to our ministry partners: baby diapers, clothes for ages 0 through 18, children’s shoes, financial gifts, hygiene kits and school supplies,” Ray Lloyd said. “This has given us an opportunity to share the love of Christ through hand delivering these gifts and donations. The most valuable thing we are able to share is love and time that we have with these people.”
The Lloyd family considers it an honor to return to the same place each year to support the missionaries, Jim and Trena Mroczko and Molly Mitchell-Waits, serving in this area.
“After five years of going, many people in our group get off the airplane and recognize the place and people that have become family, so returning each year continues to build relationships,” Ashley Lloyd said. “The welcomes and openness of the Kenyan people shows how much love changes people and their lives.”
Eight church members accompanied Averitt and Renee Ennis to San Juan Sacatepéquez, Guatemala, July 13 through 19, as they partnered with the One More Child Malnutrition and Daycare Center.
Their purpose was to serve the malnourished infants, nursing mothers and preschool children at the center.
Parents leave their malnourished infants there to receive proper care and nutrition, and family members visit them during the week. Nursing mothers and their infant children will spend up to one month to make sure the child is growing properly. The preschool children attend daily to receive meals, Bible lessons and educational learning.
“The most significant part of our trip was partnering with the staff at the malnutrition center to help improve the health and quality of life of children from struggling families in the area that are being served by the staff, interns, doctors, etc. — all while showing the love of God to each child,” Renee Ennis said.
The couple led a mission trip to the Dominican Republic in 2018 and plan to lead a trip to Costa Rica next year.
Ron and Kathy Marlow took a team of 18 with them July 20 through 27 to Managua, Nicaragua. They partnered with Lifelink International School and also were able to do God’s work in the surrounding community.
Kathy Marlow is guided by Matthew 28: 19-20, which directs Christians to go and make disciples around the world.
“We are to go to all nations and spread the good news of Jesus,” she said.
The team distributed hygiene kits, helped serve 450 bowls of rice and beans, visited a young boy with cerebral palsy and built a safety fence to protect three families.
“Most importantly, we shared the love of Christ through singing, handcrafted crosses, bracelets in Spanish that said ‘God is Love’ and a 4-by-6 card with John 3:16 in Spanish on one side and English on the other,” Kathy Marlow said. “People need to be reminded if they’ve not heard it of God dying on the cross for our sins. And you can’t get to Heaven by just being a good person.”
This is the Marlows’ third trip to Nicaragua, and they already have their 2020 mission trip planned.
“People need to hear about God’s love, and no person should be left behind in hearing the good news of Christ,” Kathy Marlow said. “And shame on us if we can go and share the good news and don’t go as God wants us to.”
“Not everyone can go on a global mission trip, so I led one this summer called Serve Orlando,” Vereb said. “I picked five local organizations who (are) trying to make a difference in our community to show those who joined me in going (that) there are ways to serve here locally. Most of the organizations will take people age 10 and up, so it’s perfect for families to serve together.”
Teams took part in local projects with Clean the World, New Beginnings of Central Florida, New Missions, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and United Against Poverty. They are working with the new West Orange Dream Center, on East Plant Street in Winter Garden and already have hosted a back-to-school bash for students. Plans are being made to offer an adult literacy program.
“That was the point of me taking people locally,” Vereb said. “We are so blessed, and there are so many in our neighborhood who aren’t.”