Organization and structure are friends of the ministries of Temple Baptist Church in Sullivan. “We call it efficiency and stewardship,” said senior pastor G. Scott Perry.
Member Ron Eichwald agreed. “Our church doesn’t want to stay in the building,” he said. “Pastor has always said that if you have a feasible ministry idea and the people to do it, the church will do whatever it takes to support it. So, now we have many competent people in different ministries.”
Truck stop ministry
Eichwald is involved with the church’s ministry to truck drivers. Since 1996, the church has held church services at two of the local truck stops.
“Since COVID we’ve had to scale back that ministry,” Perry noted. “We aren’t allowed to have actual services, but members still hand out Bibles on Sunday.”
“We go and just talk to the drivers,” Eichwald said. “We’ve also been able to hand out Bibles and CDs with the sermon on it. My wife, Judy, also goes with me on Sunday,” he continued. “There are a lot of women truck drivers, and she visits with them. In addition to sharing the gospel, we meet a lot of Christian truck drivers, and our visits are an encouragement to them.”
Eichwald said the trucking life is not easy. “Many truckers do have short runs where they drive a distance with a trailer then drop it and head back with another one,” he said. “But many of the over-the-road drivers can be gone from home for five to eight weeks at a time. It is not conducive to family life, and they appreciate the time to sit down and share with other Christians or have a Bible study.
“I was praying that God would lead me to a ministry outside of church,” Eichwald said. “I wanted to serve where I was needed, and God put me there.”
Church missions trips
Temple members also make a trip each year to Casper, Wyoming, to open the campgrounds for the summer.
“When we get there we turn on the water and clean up the camp,” Eichwald said, “Out west, there are not many churches to do the work. We are the first group to get there to get it ready for all of the young people who will come later in the summer for a Christian summer camp.”
The church also leads an annual medical missions trip to Guatemala.
Dr. Mark Scantlan, a dentist and member of Temple, said, “I’ve gone to Guatemala nine or 10 times to do primitive dentistry.
“We hold dental and vision clinics as a draw for the villagers. We are a support to the team who conducts Vacation Bible Schools in the afternoons,” he said. “While we are checking teeth and eyes, the rest of the team will canvas the village to let them know of our availability. Most of them know because the local pastors let them know we are coming.”
Assisting the community
Temple is also known around Sullivan as a “good neighbor.”
“We have a ministry that offers assistance to our community,” Perry explained. “We call it Ministry Resource Team (MRT) and people who need financial assistance with rent, utilities and other needs can apply through our program.”
“We usually spend $20,000 a year on this project,” he continued. “We only budget $7,000, but it never seems to run out. Just when I think the fund is low, it gets replenished, and we have never turned anyone away.”
Through MRT, the Temple has a long reach into the community. “We have great ties with the hospitals and social services,” Perry said. “We can help patients in need pay for medication. … We also help with rides if family members are not available.”
Another part of the MRT is assistance with construction of ramps or other needs of the elderly and disabled. “We are blessed to have a person on our team who formerly was an inspector for the city,” Perry said. “We have skilled labor, and they can keep ramps and other projects safe and up to code.”
Staying connected to homebound
And along with efforts to help the community around the church, 14 adult small groups focus on the needs of members within the church family.
“During COVID I realized how isolated our homebound, widows and nursing home members were,” Perry said, “We assigned our people to the adult groups to maintain contact with them. We want the small group to be aware of significant dates like birthdays and make contact to offer support.
“We have so many ministries,” he said. “We can use people who make themselves available. It doesn’t take special skills, only availability.”
Eichwald agreed. “Our church is ready to reach out in every direction to get the gospel out.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — This article was written by Vicki Stamps and was originally published by The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.