Karen Lee said she’s been “overwhelmed” to see what God has done in the 15 years since she became executive director of the Etowah Baptist Missions Center.
They’ve expanded from one building to five and “it’s grown by leaps and bounds,” she said.
But in recent months, Lee and the board of directors of the center began to ask how they could get outside the walls of those buildings and reach their county more comprehensively.
“Somebody said, ‘Let’s do a bus,’ and I thought, ‘Yeah, right,’” Lee said. “I thought, ‘We’re so busy at the missions center. How are we going to fit that in? How are we going to do this?’ But God just amazes me all the time; He works all of that out.”
And in September 2022, the center’s Missions to Go mobile missions bus hit the road.
Lee said a donation from a church in the association paid for the old school bus, and others helped paint it and wrap it in graphics at a discounted price.
Clothes and more
Now the bus is filled with boxes of clothes and shoes organized by size, as well as hygiene items and baby supplies, food and Bibles. They also have seasonal items, like backpacks full of school supplies in the summer and toys at Christmastime.
Lee said she and other volunteers — including her husband, Sonny, who has a commercial driver’s license — take the bus to churches in the association to partner with them as they provide ministry to the community.
For instance, when First Baptist Church Gadsden holds its monthly dental clinic at the church, the missions bus comes to provide the families with additional services in addition to tooth extractions.
Mat Alexander, pastor of FBC Gadsden and president of the board for the missions center, said having the bus on the church property during the clinic helps them serve their patients well.
Serving more effectively
He said it also offers a chance for the missions center to serve the county more effectively by coming alongside churches.
“It’s been a really important asset to add to our ministry at the missions center to fulfill the mission we feel like God has given us,” Alexander said.
At the missions center, volunteers and staff can meet needs and point people to the local churches, but the bus can make that connection closer.
“This allows not only for the missions center to serve the whole county but the churches to use the resources of the missions center to serve their communities through their church and make gospel connections and ultimately see people come to know Jesus through this ministry,” he said.