"Uniting the People of God in this area"
Bessemer Baptist Association
Sunday, December 09, 2018
To Go...To Serve...Together
 Vision of Bessemer Baptist Association 2017

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

Jesus often told stories to his followers in order to help them better understand the vision that He was calling His people to follow. In order to tell you about where the Bessemer Baptist Association is headed in the next five years and beyond, we also want to share with you a story. This is the story of Manny and Deborah Torres and their two children, David and Joseph. More importantly, this is the story of your Bessemer Baptist Association.

The year is 2017. The place is Bessemer City Church. The event is the Annual Meeting of the Bessemer Baptist Association. Stepping up to the microphone is Manny Torres to share his testimony of how the Bessemer Baptist Association has changed his life. With a slight Hispanic accent, he begins to share...

"Good afternoon, my name is Manny Torres and standing here with me today is my beautiful wife, Deborah, and my two boys, David and Joe. I want to thank so many of my friends and fellow church-members from Bessemer City Church who are here to support me today as I share with you how The Lord saved my life through the people, churches, and ministries of The Bessemer Baptist Association. I can honestly say that I would not be standing here today if it weren't for this association. Let me take you back to where I first heard of Bessemer Baptists. It was twelve years ago. My family and I lived in Mississippi and the area where we lived was hit very hard by Hurricane Katrina. Our home was flooded. Many folks lost everything. While our entire community pulled together, it was such a large task that we knew we couldn't clean everything up by ourselves. Within days, groups were there to help us. I'm sure you saw on the news all that the Red Cross did, but from our standpoint, we thanked God for all those people in the bright yellow shirts. They were Southern Baptists and they had come to help us. As we worked alongside of these people, I found out that one of the teams had come from Bessemer, Alabama. I was so moved that these people who didn't know us would give up their time and their resources to come and help us through such a horrible time. After Katrina, it became impossible for us to rebuild where we were. For the next six or seven years, my wife and I moved around alot.

Thankfully, in 2013, I found work in Birmingham, Alabama and Deborah and I were excited to move here with David and our new son, Joseph. I am very happy today to tell you that I am now serving alongside of some of the same men and women that helped me twelve years ago on the expanded Disaster Relief Team for the Bessemer Baptist Association. With God's help, I will soon be serving as a chaplain and I would encourage any of you to go through training with us to serve people who so desperately need your help.

That was just the first impact that Bessemer Baptists had on my life. Upon moving not too far from downtown Bessemer where we are today, with a toddler and a new baby, we found that we needed more help. This was before Deborah found a job here. We started looking up phone numbers in the phone book and upon calling two or three churches in this association, we found out about the Benevolence Center Ministry where the churches of this association have come together to provide food, clothing, and other necessities to those in need. This wonderful ministry came through for us, especially when it came time to get David ready for preschool. Upon hearing our story, the sweet lady at the Center also recommended us to the Association's Family Ministry Team to help us work through some of the feelings we were experiencing. We were able to go through several counseling sessions through Pathways Counseling and they helped us make sense of the path that God had us on. After being impacted several times through different ministries of the Bessemer Association, Deborah and I knew that God was speaking to our hearts. We knew that we needed to find a church here in Bessemer. Believe it or not, as we began to think about different churches in the area, some people knocked on our door to invite us to a brand new church. They said it was going to be intentionally multi-cultural and would be called Bessemer City Church. When we started asking questions about it, we found out that several churches in this association were coming together to start this new work! We couldn't believe it! Once again, God was using the Bessemer Baptist Association to bless our lives. After attending here for several weeks, Deborah and I both accepted Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior! How we thank God for an association that cares enough to plant new churches and revitalize existing ones! How we thank God for an association that values evangelism to the extent that people from different churches come together to seek ways to reach out to this area with the Gospel of Jesus Christ! God is truly at work in our lives and He is accomplishing much through the BBA. I am about to start teaching a young adult Bible study class here at Bessemer City and my wife is going to lead our Vacation Bible School next summer. We are thankful for the opportunity to be trained by quality leaders through the association's Leadership Team. I had the privilege of being led by the Director of Missions here and, like you, I'm thankful that God sent such a visionary leader to this association five years ago. He is a wonderful man and I know this from experience. I'm thankful for the opportunity I had to get to know him and other men and women from this association on our most recent mission trip to Belize. I had never been out of the country before, but I know Christ commanded us to go and preach the Gospel to everyone, everywhere. We are thankful this association provides opportunities for our churches to come together to go on mission for Him. If you've never been on a mission trip, make sure you find out about the next Bessemer Baptist trip today before you leave this meeting. My time is almost out and I haven't even had the time to tell you how the Sav-a-Life ministry helped my neighbor's daughter to decide to put her baby up for adoption. I know they have had their office in the beautifully renovated Association building at Fairfax Avenue, but I really believe that if she hadn't been able to go to the new Hueytown Center you helped finance to have an ultrasound done where she could actually see her baby growing inside of her, she might not have chosen to give that baby the gift of life. The gift of life. Think about those words with me for a moment. Today, I want to thank each of you who are the Bessemer Baptist Association. In the truest sense of the word, for Deborah, my two boys, and myself, that is exactly what God has given us through you...life. Abundant and eternal life."