Churches from across the state converged on the Tulsa metro area with one thing in mind—community service. The North American Mission Board, in partnership with the Tulsa Metro Association and Oklahoma Baptists recently kicked off its Send Relief Serve Tours with Serve Tour Tulsa.
The service event included 350 volunteers from 47 churches who spread out across the greater Tulsa metro area to complete 32 ministry service projects in Tulsa, Bixby, Broken Arrow, Coweta, Jenks, Owasso, Sand Springs and Sapulpa. Along with in-state volunteers, there were servers representing Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas and South Carolina.
An honor to serve
Volunteers participated in caring ministries for various communities, serving local churches, bi-vocational pastors and low-income schools. Some projects included light construction, painting, landscaping and hosting sports camps and block parties. Volunteer teams also served foster families and people experiencing homelessness.
Serve Tour Tulsa volunteer Carrie Sowell said it was an honor to serve the Tulsa metro area communities alongside fellow Oklahoma Baptists through the various community projects.
“Many families have given up their fall break to be a part of this project,” said Sowell of the October 15-16 event. “One of our projects was partnering with Care Portal (a networking website used by churches to help resource foster parents) and blessing our foster families with responses to their requests.
“Today we have a sweet mom who is a kinship foster parent,” Sowell continued. “This means she has stepped up when a child in her family was in need. Recently her car caught fire, and she was in desperate need for new and safe transportation. We presented her with a vehicle, and we couldn’t be more excited to bless her, pray with her and love on her.”
Tulsa’s Serve Tour project manager Mike Lehew who is also pastor of Sapulpa, Church Inside Out, said Serve Tour surpassed his expectations.
“Project after project,” Lehew said, “I heard of divine encounters of salvation, connections made to the local church and the body of Christ encouraging people, as the Gospel was advanced. Serve Tour Tulsa was a springboard for churches and individuals to continue to get outside the walls of their churches to go after ‘the one.’” Lehew referenced the parable of the lost sheep (Matt. 18: 10–14).
“In the next few weeks,” he continued, “we are going to have a ‘what’s next’ meeting to capitalize on what God has done through His church to advance the Gospel.”
Adam Mask, pastor of Coweta Community, led his church to participate in several of the Serve Tour Tulsa projects. He said the projects gave churches opportunities to advance the Gospel by embracing brokenness evangelistically.
“The beauty about what God did through the Serve Tour was bringing 47 different churches together to reach into Tulsa and the surrounding areas to meet needs in the name of Jesus,” Mask said. “What excites me the most about Send Relief’s Serve Tour Tulsa was that we were the first city for the Serve Tour. Not only were we able to bless our community this weekend, but because we are the first of its kind, we were able to better equip Send Relief for future projects in other cities in 2022. In this way, Oklahoma Baptists not only impacted Tulsa over the weekend but will play an instrumental role in blessing cities all throughout the country.”
Sammy Simmons serves as NAMB’s Send Relief national project director and was pleased with the results of Serve Tour Tulsa.
“I am very excited about what God did and what He will do,” Simmons said. “There are a ton of great stories of how God worked. The heart of the idea behind Serve Tour is to partner with state conventions and associations to inspire churches to meet needs within a city, share the Gospel and see lives changed. I have received numerous different emails and texts from pastors saying how they and their churches were encouraged, as others helped them reach out to their community.”
Simmons explained that similar projects like Send Tour Tulsa will happen across the United States in the next year, in cities such as Memphis, Tenn.; Meridian, Miss.; Baltimore, Md.; and Charleston, S.C.
“After seeing the impact made in Tulsa, I’m excited for the other cities that we will serve in the spring,” he said. “I feel quite honored to be a small part of seeing Southern Baptists do what they do best—sharing Christ’s love and the Gospel together.”
Ross McGregor, local missions minister at Memphis, Tenn., Bellevue, will serve as project coordinator for Serve Tour Memphis which will take place Feb. 25-26. He joined the Serve Tour Tulsa projects as a participant and observer to assist in planning Serve Tour Memphis.
“It’s good to see what the Tulsa churches are doing,” McGregor said. “Hopefully we can learn and take that back to our state. Right now we are getting our ministry hubs together. We already have several churches getting ready to serve our city, so we’re ready to go. We are excited for our churches to work together to serve our city.”