7 Ministries – 1 Mission – Many ways to serve with ABCS
By Irene A. Harkleroad, Photos by Daniel Yu | Dec 15, 2022
Many people want to serve on mission, but family responsibilities and finances often keep them from making a long-term commitment. Arizona Baptist Children’s Services & Family Ministries (ABCS) offers exciting opportunities for Arizona Southern Baptists to be on mission without leaving the state.
ABCS’ mission is to provide hope and care to hurting children and families through Christ-centered ministries.
Mission Encounter 360 (ME360) is the volunteer and missions ministry of ABCS.
The goal of ME360 is simply to develop, support and invest in God’s people by exposing them to ministry and mission opportunities and helping them discover how they can be used by God to impact the world.
“Our volunteers are invaluable,” said Dane Clark, ME360 statewide director. “Because we’re not a church and we have such a far reach across the state, we are highly reliant on the servants that come from our churches.
“Every volunteer is called with a different life experience and skill set that you just couldn’t hire for,” he continued. “We have hundreds of volunteers who bring so much to the table because of their unique God-given talents.”
Last year, 1,860 ABCS volunteers served 52,866 hours, the equivalent of 25 full-time, year-round employees.
Phyllis Brindle is one of those volunteers at New Life Pregnancy Center in Tucson. She oversees the counting of cash from baby bottle campaigns through which churches or groups collect change in baby bottles for New Life Preganancy Center. She and several other dedicated women count and roll coins for deposit.
She has served weekly for the last six years and helps with mailings and the back-to-school backpack drive for foster kids.
“I enjoy helping people and am blessed by the fellowship with other volunteers,” Brindle said.
She is part of Women on Mission at 22nd Street Baptist Church, where the group makes Christmas stockings, dolls, pillows and puppets for foster children and for ABCS’ Caring Ministries.
There are so many behind-the-scenes, go-at-your-own-pace opportunities with ABCS: writing encouraging cards to foster families, helping get Christmas gifts, and decorating, setting up or tearing down for a foster family event.
Two years ago, Agnes Smith, a member of Real Life Church in Yuma, began serving at the Yuma New Life Pregnancy Center. An active 83-year-old, she works 16 hours a week unpacking donations, sorting and hanging clothes, picking up and bagging bread.
“Some days I am surrounded by bags,” she said. “I wanted to give myself to something that matters. I want to serve the Lord. I enjoy working with a great team who wants to do the same. It’s a pleasure to go to ‘work’ because you want to.”
Fifteen years ago, Larry Alvarez began helping at Casa de Amor in Mesa, where he now attends The Bridge Church. Casa de Amor is part of ABCS’ Community Resource Centers ministry.
Preparing food boxes takes many hands to move goods from food banks to resource centers through the state and pack the many bags to distribute at the centers. “The pastor [Tim Lesher] got me started checking in people for food distribution,” Alvarez said. “Then we handed out Bibles and prayed for the people. Now, at 84, I run around picking up food and household items. My wife, Jade, also serves at Casa de Amor.”
There are seven ministries in ABCS’ statewide organization.
“We have something for almost everyone,” Clark said. “We want to hear what potential volunteers are passionate about and see where God will plug them in. We are very flexible with the needs of volunteers and can customize ways they can serve and encourage them to try different things. They are welcome to serve one time or regularly.”
- Encourage individuals, families, small groups and your church to get involved in local mission projects and opportunities.
- Arrange a tour of an ABCS’ ministry near you, or consider an internship.
- Sign up to collect food or hygiene items, or help with food and clothing distribution.
- Pray for ABCS, their ministries, staff and volunteers.
- For more information, go to ABCS.org/volunteer or missionencounter360.com, or call 800-678-0648 or 520-795-7541.
ABCS volunteer and intern opportunities
- Organize clothing, diapers, supplies
- Offer administrative support
- Work with and serve clients
- Make food boxes and bundle diapers
- Organize food or clothing
- Assist and pray with clients
- Provide child care for monthly support groups
- Assist with special events and projects
Transitional Program (Tucson)
- Teach life skills or Bible study classes
- Become a mentor for a participant
Pursue Life Adult Ministry (Phoenix)
- Assist with Senior Days and other events
- Help resource senior adults
- Provide clerical and office support
- Give information technology (IT) support
- Assist with brochures, social media, mailings, etc.
- Help with building maintenance or work projects
- Work on special events (planning, setup/tear down)
Irene A. Harkleroad, a freelance writer living in Carefree, is a member of Black Mountain Baptist Church, Cave Creek.
Daniel Yu, a member of Tucson Chinese Baptist Church, is owner of Daniel Yu Imaging.