In June youth from Stephen Greene Baptist Church in Winnsboro stepped out of their comfort zones to minister on a nearby Native American Reservation.
Thanks to the leadership of pastor Mickey Cockrell of Stephen Greene and Red Path Baptist Church in Rock Hill, the youth from this area held three days of outdoor vacation Bible school for the residents on the reservation.
Prior to the nearly five years Cockrell has spent at Stephen Greene, he and his wife did other mission work and even did work at the Cherokee reservation.
Cockrell says that Stephen Greene is a mission minded church that helps in the community with a good back and that members recently delivered paper goods to a drive organized by the Ronald McDonald House.
They also do worldwide outreach by supporting their Baptist denomination’s missions with prayer and financial support.
The Catawba is the only federally recognized Native American tribe in South Carolina with around 2600 registered members who live either on, or nearby the reservation.
Cockrell said his parishioners had some adjusting to do when they saw signs about the land being under tribal law.
It was an interesting dynamic because while they were still Americans, the Native Americans more or less exposed them to a different culture.
“I just wanted to show them that people are people and that God loves everybody,” Cockrell said.
A few months ago he was praying and thinking of mission work as a way of sharing the Gospel. The Catawba stuck in his mind though to that time he had learned little of them.
He was surprised to find out that no other church in the Rock Hill area had ever thought to bring a VBS to the children and youth on the reservation before. The vacation Bible school lasted three days and was simple and informal.
They planned to do one session per day but then on the first day they learned of a second portion of the reservation that they did not know about before.
They chose to hold two sessions per day, one at the home of a Red Path Baptist Church member and the other at a park in the Green Earth Community in section two.
Six adults and ten youth helpers led the VBS sessions. It really worked well and they did a fine job.
They connected with the children on the reservation, Cockrell said. 58 reservation youth and children attended the three day school.
“The main thing I wanted our youth to do was show love, spend time with the children and show them that they cared,” he said.
The event was such a positive experience that he and other church members are open to the possibility of doing more work of a similar vein.
“It was a wonderful opportunity for our group and I believe it has helped us. I believe that Christians grow by serving and doing the work of the Gospel and I was really honored and privileged to lead this group,” he said.
The church’s evening June 24 worship service was a recap of the week with a video being shown.
He purchased some of the tribe’s handmade pottery which they make from clay found along the river.