FARMINGTON (BNM) - Members from two churches, one in New Mexico and one in New Jersey, assisted Higher Ground Church, Farmington, during the church plant’s first Vacation Bible School, “Shipwrecked in Shiprock,” July 24-26. Three children professed faith in Christ during the event, according to Higher Ground’s pastor, Josh Valdez. As a church plant, Higher Ground’s sending church (sponsoring church) is Grace Hill Church, Farmington.
Faith Baptist Church, Hamilton Square, New Jersey, sent members of its youth group with its youth pastor and his wife. Mountain Valley Church, Edgewood, sent approximately 10 members including the church’s pastor, Chris Promesberger, and his wife, Lisa.
Mountain Valley’s children’s team leader, Sondra Burch, also attended the weeklong mission trip. Burch “shouldered the program of VBS,” managing the administrative and organizational aspects of the event, Valdez said.
Burch told the Baptist New Mexican that working with Valdez and others at Higher Ground helped because they “knew the culture and knew how the community would react to people from other cultures.”
Mountain Valley donated their previous year’s VBS curriculum, which was originally purchased through Group Publishing.
Prior to Higher Ground’s three-night VBS, members from the three churches participated in outreach events at Mesa Mobile Home Park, where Higher Ground has developed a ministry partnership. During the outreach events, church members played games with children and invited them to attend Higher Ground’s VBS.
According to Valdez, approximately 25 children attended VBS, with three children professing faith in Christ for the first time. Valdez noted, "the kids that came from Mesa were largely unchurched kids.” Two girls from VBS attended church the following Sunday as a result of the event.
In addition to reaching out to children in the mobile home community, several members of Faith Baptist’s youth group developed relationships with teenagers in the community. “There were some really excellent conversations that the teens from Faith [Baptist] had with the teens from Mesa - overcoming some of their objections to Christianity and to God's existence and so forth. There was great progression there," Valdez said.
Valdez told the Baptist New Mexican that Higher Ground plans to continue to serve residents at Mesa, through similar outreach events. According to Valdez, even though Higher Ground is a small, young, church plant, the church hopes to be able to provide backpacks and school supplies for some of the children who attended VBS. Higher Ground currently has 20 members, with close to 30 people attending services each week. Mesa Mobile Home Park has approximately 400 units, according to Valdez.
According to Valdez, Higher Ground’s involvement in the Mesa community is reflective of a similar ministry at Grace Hill. "A lot of our church DNA is coming from Grace Hill Church, which is on the eastside of Farmington. Even this ministry that we're specifically investing in Mesa, Grace Hill is modeling for us. For the last couple of years Grace Hill has had an apartment ministry," he said.
Valdez added that Higher Ground’s increased involvement with Mesa has prompted a need for a van or bus with which the church can transport community members to and from church.
When asked to comment on the need for ongoing mission work in the state, Valdez said, "In New Mexico we're facing a post-Christian culture really quickly. A lot of times we think we need to go across the country or across the sea to a mission field, [when] the mission field is also here, right in our backyard as well. We need more people to have a missional mindset and to be sharing the Gospel.”
Note: As a church plant, Higher Ground is funded in part by the Baptist Convention of New Mexico. The BCNM’s annual Mission New Mexico offering allocates $100,000 toward church planting efforts across the state, under the direction of the convention’s Missions Mobilization Team. As of July 17, BCNM has raised $110,848 of its $360,000 goal. To learn more about Mission New Mexico, or to make a donation, visit http://www.bcnm.com/missionnewmexico.