by Norm Miller
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews)—The opportunity to minister and learn at a church with international stature is rare.
For Truett-McConnell College senior, Chris Chapman, and 2013 graduate Kaitlyn Lamb, interning in children's ministry at the notable Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., offered practical experience on how ministry works.
Both Lamb and Chapman spent nearly three months at the church known worldwide for producing four, popular, Christian-themed movies, including "Fireproof" and "Courageous."
Giving countless hours in ministry preparation, Chapman got more than academic exercise setting up projectors, chairs, tables and other equipment throughout the summer. More than a mere laborer, Chapman directly interacted as teacher and leader among children inside and outside the church.
"It was good to see that side of ministry -- the hard work of going out and inviting people to ministry events," Chapman said. "It definitely stretched me spiritually."
The summer ministry wrought 55 professions of faith. Each convert was personally counseled and had one-on-one follow-up, said Chapman, an early childhood education major.
Day camps, backyard Bible clubs, Vacation Bible School, and a mission trip to Jacksonville, Fla., punctuated the TMC team's weekly Wednesday and Sunday night ministries at the church.
Lamb and Chapman developed a missions-themed program called "The Amazing Race: Acts 1.8." that taught children to share the gospel when they "traveled" each week to other countries. Missionaries who had ministered in those countries shared their experiences with the kids.
At the Georgia Baptist Conference Center in Norman Park, Ga., Sherwood held its weeklong ministry, "Camp Topadarok." Focusing on Romans 12.2, the camp used the popular "Transformers" for a theme.
"I led a group of 3rd grade boys and loved it," Chapman said. "It was so cool for them to see me as a spiritual leader."
Chapman also "counseled a boy who prayed and gave his life to Christ" after a worship session. "That was a neat opportunity."
"KidzBlast" is Sherwood's VBS -- an all-day ministry that drew about 500 children, some from the inner city.
Chapman taught K-2nd graders "Crazy Science," he said. "We made a Silly Putty-type substance." Chapman explained how the "molecules create such a strong bond, and that God wants to form a similar bond with people. It was messy -- a complete mess. The kids really loved it. But the parents, probably not so much."
For a weeklong Bible club held in a former Coca-Cola facility donated to Sherwood, Chapman and Lamb went door-to-door handing out fliers in what Chapman said was "a rough part of town."
The team continued ministering to the inner-city children every Tuesday thereafter through playing in a nearby park, telling Bible stories, and walking them to a free lunch at the Boys and Girls Club. "We wanted to continue our bond with the kids in that neighborhood," Chapman said, "and we hope that bond will help for next summer's ministry."
Trekking to Jacksonville, Fla., Lamb and Chapman led 5th graders to assist Ocean Way Baptist Church in witnessing on the beach and distributing gift baskets and DVDs of all four of Sherwood's movies to local police and fire stations. The team also prayed over the public servants.
The young missionaries "had to qualify for the trip," Chapman explained. "They memorized the Romans Road, read a book on how to share their faith and reported on it, and completed other qualifications, like sharing their testimonies with other Sunday school classes."
"The kids went witnessing on the beach and asked people for prayer requests," Chapman added. "It was so cool to see 5th graders have a heart for missions and witnessing. The whole point of the trip was for them to learn how to do ministry, not for the adults to do it. It was a chance for them to take the wheel."
In reflection, Chapman said it was a great experience to invest his time in the children's lives and for Sherwood's staff to invest in him. "That was really a blessing. Overall, the coolest thing was not just seeing ministry happen, but doing it."
Lamb said what "touched" her most was working with inner-city children. "They are looking for love," she said. Especially meaningful was one child who would ask each week, "Are we gonna sing songs? Will we learn about Jesus?" Lamb recalled.
David Joiner, Sherwood's children's pastor, told TMCNews: "Chris and Kaitlyn were an incredible addition to our children's ministry team this summer. Their hard work, unwavering commitment to serving the Sherwood family and love for children of Albany was evident in everything they did."
"I watched both of them go into some of the most difficult neighborhoods of Albany week after week and love on the families and children as they would their own family. They handled the intense pressures of working long hours and flexible schedules day after day with impeccable integrity and upbeat attitudes," Joiner added.
"It was clear that the training and the foundation laid by Truett McConnell College prepared them for the challenges needed to serve in such a fast paced ministry. They became part of our family and will forever be so. We miss them tremendously already. I cannot wait to see how the Lord uses them to impact our world for Christ in the days to come."