As a “sneak peek” of the upcoming “ServeNC” initiative in August, N.C. Baptist staff members had the opportunity to attend a house dedication ceremony and complete service projects in the community surrounding Charity Missions Center in Rose Hill.

Sophia Boney wasn’t expecting all the people who came out to celebrate the dedication of her new home, but she considered it a blessing.

“We weren’t expecting this many people, but we’re glad they came,” Boney said. “They just told me a few people were going to come out. They didn’t tell me it was going to be all this. When I saw everybody come up, it was just a blessing.”

More than 60 N.C. Baptist staff members joined state convention leaders and others for a ribbon cutting ceremony and dedication to formally welcome Sophia and her husband, Roosevelt, into their new home in Duplin County on Monday, April 29. The home dedication marked the beginning of a two-day service retreat for N.C. Baptist staff members, which was viewed as a “sneak peek” of the “ServeNC” initiative taking place in early August. 

The Boney’s new home – a 1,040-square-foot, one-story structure with two bedrooms and two baths that’s equipped with new appliances – is the latest home rebuild completed by teams of volunteers working out of the Charity Missions Center, a ministry of N.C. Baptists on Mission, an auxiliary of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

Following Hurricane Florence in 2018, N.C. Baptist officials acquired the former Charity Middle School in Rose Hill to serve as a base of operations for long-term disaster response efforts for area residents impacted by the storm. The former school now serves as a full-blown missions hub to serve the local community in a variety of ways.

Those projects include continuing to serve and minister to families like the Boneys, who are still feeling the effects of Hurricane Florence nearly six years after the storm.

“It’s not just about the house that’s been built here,” said Richard Weeks, associational mission strategist for the Eastern Baptist Association, who also coordinates local missions projects for churches out of the Charity Missions Center along with his wife, Tammy. “It’s also about the lives that have been touched.”

Following the Boney’s home dedication, N.C. Baptist staff members circled the house and prayed over the structure and the Boney family. 

During the retreat, N.C. Baptist staff engaged in a variety of local missions projects. Working out of the Charity Missions Center, N.C. Baptist staff assembled into small teams to serve the surrounding communities in areas such as construction, yard work, landscaping and more.

For many staff members, the retreat gave them an opportunity to serve and minister in new ways.

Ethan Nunn, a ministry assistant for N.C. Baptists, served on a team that painted baseboards, molding and trim which will be installed in a nearby home under construction for a family displaced by Florence.

“So the funny thing about it is I’ve actually never even painted molding or a room or anything for that matter,” Nunn said. “But as we were challenged to serve, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone a little bit, learn something new and be the hands and feet of Jesus in a way I’ve never been before.”

Another team of N.C. Baptists staff spent time applying siding to the home where the baseboards Nunn and others were painting will be installed. 

At another location, a team of N.C. Baptist staff members built a wheelchair ramp at the home of an area woman named Brenda, whose husband had recently died. After completing the ramp, N.C. Baptist staff prayed with Brenda, who expressed gratitude for the team’s work because of mobility challenges she has when entering and leaving her home.

“You just don’t know how much I appreciate this,” Brenda said. “I was thinking I was gonna have to pay for the whole thing, and when they told me about this – oh, thank God, that’s a blessing.”

Brenda said that the ramp will be a significant help to her in her daily activities. 

“People had to kind of push me up those three steps,” Brenda said. “But now it’s gonna be wonderful. I’ll be racing.” 

Other teams took on additional projects, which included helping organize Charity’s food pantry and thrift store. The service projects were reflective of the types of efforts that will be taken on by churches during “ServeNC,” which takes place Aug. 3-10.

“Think of it as a short-term mission trip to your community,” said Todd Unzicker, N.C. Baptists’ executive director-treasurer.

“ServeNC” service projects can include similar work to what the N.C. Baptist staff engaged in during the retreat or something totally different. 

“When you think about ‘ServeNC,’ it doesn’t have to be anything fancy or extravagant,” Tammy Weeks said. “It’s just being willing to say, ‘Lord, here I am. Send me and use me.’”

Nunn said “ServeNC” provides an excellent opportunity for individuals to try new things as they serve on mission.

“Do something that is new to you, something that you’re not comfortable with, and just watch the Lord work,” Nunn said. “I think He’s gonna move in a great way.”

EDITOR’S NOTESamuel Heard, editor and content coordinator for N.C. Baptists, and Chad Austin, managing editor for the Biblical Recorder, coauthored this article.