Cuts by NAMB impact couple’s ministry at Baptist Center
Editor’s Note: The partnership Tennessee Baptists have had with Iowa Baptists for the past 10 years will conclude at the end of this year. The Baptist and Reflector will publish some stories about the partnership in the weeks ahead, with a major wrap-up article planned for our convention issue in November. Any Tennessee Baptist who has volunteered in Iowa is invited to write a brief (100 words or less) description of how you or your church has been blessed by the Iowa partnership. Please e-mail these testimonies to the editor at email@example.com by Oct. 15.
DES MOINES, Iowa — When Jon and Mindy Jamison were appointed by the North American Mission Board to serve at the Friendship Baptist Center, they arrived at a facility that had been nothing more than a warehouse for a year and a half.
Yet, they hit the ground running and restarted the center which now has a 30-year history in the inner city of Des Moines.
“For us, it was the best of both worlds,” said Jon Jamison, a native of Elizabethton who along with his wife are graduates of Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City and New Orleans (La.) Baptist Theological Seminary.
“The center had been here a long time but had been closed. We were able to come in and make some needed changes,” he said.
The center’s primary focus is on a 10-15 block area, but its ministry reaches into other parts of the city, Jamison said. “We are a neighborhood center.”
The Jamisons have brought continuity and stability to the Baptist Center and local residents have noticed.
Belle Taylor, a non-Baptist community volunteer, often shops in the Baptist Center’s clothing closet for people unable to visit in person.
“Baptists are doing a wonderful job here,” she affirmed.
“They are doing work for the Lord,” Taylor added.
She observed that the Jamisons are dedicated to the ministry provided at the center. “They know people by name. They pray for them. The place is always clean and organized. I thank God for the job they’re doing,” she said.
Arlen Nicholls, who lives next door to the center, expressed appreciation for both the Jamisons and Tennessee volunteers who have visited the area over the past decade.
“This neighborhood is not very affluent. They have helped us,” Nicholls affirmed.
In addition to meeting physical needs of the community’s residents, the Friendship Baptist Center has made an impact spiritually as well, Jamison said.
He noted there have been about 150 known professions of faith over the past 10 years. In addition, he has seen lives changed due to relationships created by Tennessee Baptist volunteers, many of whom have made repeat visits.
“Those relationships mean everything to people in generational poverty,” Jamison observed. “We have seen lasting change as a result of groups coming over and over again,” he stressed.
Jamison, however, is concerned about the future of the center.
He and Mindy serve with the Baptist Convention of Iowa as missionaries appointed by the North American Mission Board.
NAMB’s strategy and emphasis on the “Great Commission Resurgence” approved by SBC messengers two years ago will impact the center, Jamison said.
Since that vote, funding for the center has been reduced and restricted and will continue to be through 2014, Jamison said.
“The work in Iowa will change as the NAMB strategy changes,” he continued, noting that the convention cannot sustain itself.
He stressed that he and Mindy are not looking for somewhere to go and they are praying for God’s will in their lives.
In the meantime, the Jamisons are seeking more local churches and outside volunteers to help at the center. “This isn’t the Jon and Mindy Show. The more people who come alongside us, the better it is for the people in this community,” he said.
The Jamisons’ prayer is that if their funding ends, there will be enough funds to keep the center going at some level. “It would be tough to leave knowing that it would be shut down,” he said.