For sixteen consecutive years, the motivated and deeply loved First Baptist Church (FBC) of Orlando Mission Team sacrificed their vacation time and resources to faithfully come serve on The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) campus. This year, it was the second week of June that the Orlando volunteers caravanned to Graceville filled with energy and enthusiasm. According to FBC Orlando Mission Team Coordinator Jim Wortham, this year’s Mission Team consisted of 114 volunteers of all ages, the largest group they have brought to date. Wortham and his wife and group photographer, Ms. Pat, were once again the driving force behind recruiting the large number of volunteers and encouraging participation.
Each day began with breakfast and devotion time, followed by a few words of instruction from Wortham. The hard working teams began their list of projects before 8:30 a.m. and worked until 5:00 p.m. each day, taking only a brief lunch break in the middle of the day. Their work ethic and diligence in completing every task was incredible. This year’s labor of love included projects such as trimming and shaping bushes, cutting down trees, painting, laying tile, remodeling buildings, pressure washing, cleaning apartments, and one group even served as actors during a special security training drill. The “cream of the crop” worked each day with the children who came along with their volunteer parents, learning first-hand the true meaning of mission mindedness.
FBC Orlando’s unique “family oriented mission team” was able to enjoy several fun activities while serving on the BCF campus. During the mornings, all of the children participated in what they lovingly refer to as GBS (Graceville Bible School rather than the traditional VBS-Vacation Bible School). Their activities were held in the BCF Wellness Center and led by several team members in the group. Adding to the festivities, BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen and First Lady Ruth Ann hosted a dinner for the mission team in the Deese Center in honor and appreciation for all of their hard work which included five of Ms. Ruth Ann’s famous fourteen-layered chocolate cakes. “The visit from our FBC Orlando family is a homecoming in the best sense of the word,” stated Kinchen. “We have literally watched some of these children grow up during our journey together. Each year, we look forward to the time when we can renew old friendships and begin new ones. It’s always bitter-sweet because we are trying to press a whole year into a week; but as long as Ms. Ruth Ann’s chocolate cake lasts, all is well.”
As anticipated, the week brought much activity, sweat, long hours, sore muscles, aching feet, and major improvements to the BCF campus. The Orlando Mission Team was seen all over the campus working hard, dodging the rain, playing with the children, and efficiently checking projects off of their to-do list. The Orlando Mission Team always brings new life and excitement to the BCF campus.
For sixteen years, the hard work and campus improvements completed by these servant volunteers save the college enormous resources that can instead be reallocated to send more students on mission trips and provide scholarships to train those called to “go”. For more information on campus mission projects or to learn more about the degrees offered through The Baptist College of Florida, contact 800-328-2660 ext. 460 or visit the website at baptistcollege.edu.