By Sherrie Norris
Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in the Zionville community is a highly respected church in the High Country, but for just one day every year, it goes “a little wild” in its effort to raise money for mission work.
Now in its 10th year, the church-sponsored Wild Game Dinner is scheduled for April 14 in the church fellowship hall to raise money for its summer mission trip to Ecuador.
The menu will include bear, elk, deer and a variety of other wild game, along with vegetable alternatives for those who prefer something on the lighter side.
The dinner will begin at 6 p.m. with a special program to follow at 7 p.m. with guest speaker, Rev. Tim Tindle, pastor of Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Coker, Ala.
“We really like for this event to be an outreach to the community and an opportunity for us to share the gospel with those who attend,” said church spokesperson Jackie Lawrence.
More about the mission trip to Ecuador
For the last decade, Pleasant Grove Baptist Church has been sending a team to do mission work each summer in Ecuador, partnering with longtime missionary couple Steve and Carol Thompson, who are still serving there after 31 years.
“We have done a variety of things over the years, including helping with camp for children and youth at the Mountain Camp (Chacauco) and the jungle camp (UNPES),” said Lawrence. We have led Vacation Bible School in public schools and in jungle communities, as well as a community called Apatug, high in the Andes Mountains, at 13,000 feet in elevation.”
“We have dearly fallen in love with the people of Apatug.” Lawrence explained, describing Apatug as a Quechua Indian community.
Every year, the church group also visits the Apatug Church, Kuri Sisa, which means “Golden Flower,” and holds a special place in the hearts of the Watauga County group for several reasons.
“The first 11 people in Apatug who became believers in the late 1980s were greatly persecuted for their faith,” Lawrence shared. “They do not face the extreme persecution they once did, and are a very dedicated, committed group of believers.”
The mission team has also jumped in to help with a lot of painting, construction and cleaning work during their previous trips.
“One year, we did painting/clean-up work and a VBS at a jungle church with a Compassion International program at the church,” Lawrence explained, calling it “ a great opportunity to see, first-hand, the work of Compassion International.”
The group has also had the opportunity to distribute Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes in Apatug, and also in an orphanage there, thanks to the Ecuadorian connections with OCC.
“The seminary at Camp Chacauco (Seminario Teologico Bautista PESCA) is now functioning and hosted a pilot satellite program with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, with the first 11 Ecuadorians graduating last year.
“These graduates are now part of the teaching staff of the seminary, which has even more Ecuadorian students enrolled,” Lawrence said.
The mission team always takes with them gifts that have been handmade by the ladies at Pleasant Grove, which through the years have included many pillowcase dresses, stuffed whales and and quilts, that are given to children and families in Ecuador.
“We’ve also been able to visit the Nate Saint House in Shell Mera, Ecuador,” Lawrence shared, explaining that Nate Saint was one of the five missionaries killed by the Waroni tribe of Auca Indians in 1956.
This year, the Pleasant Grove mission group will be helping with the youth camp being held at Camp Chacauco (Mountain Camp). They will also be involved with and helping with the needs of one particular community, most likely Apatug, and then will be spending part of their time at the (UNPES jungle camp
“Camp Chacauco was started and built in 2001 as a retreat center for local pastors, that now serves as a youth camp and sports ministry by Steve and Carol Thompson, who first came as Global Outreach Missionaries from Texas,” Jackie Lawrence said. “Camp Chacauco is a beautiful, hand-built retreat center in the central mountain region of Ecuador.
When first trying to come up with a “unique idea” for fundraising, the church group, mainly youth at the time, decided to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. “We saw it not only as a new fundraising idea, but also as an outreach to the hunters in our area,” Lawrence said.
“We are really getting excited about going back (to Ecuador) this year,” Lawrence said, “and we’re hoping the community will come out and support our efforts.”
For those who have a heart for mission work, but don’t necessarily want to make the trip abroad, supporting this High Country church group through their fundraiser is the perfect way to help.
There is no charge for the wild game dinner, but donations are appreciated and will go a long way to do good works.
Pleasant Grove Baptist Church is located at 1564 Silverstone Road in Zionville, where donations may also be mailed.
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