On a mission
At Centennial Baptist Church, the “Youth Explosion” can be experienced not only in the church and throughout the Mercer County community, but acrosss the nation, as evidenced by a missionary trip two of the church elders and six youth members made to Joplin, Mo., after a massive tornado demolished the town and left nearly 100 people dead. Thousands of others were left homeless and in need of food, water and shelter.
The group of eight left Harrodsburg at 5 a.m. June 27, and came back late June 29. The mission involved helping tornado victims clean up, handing out food rations and simply being there for people still in shock over what’s considered one of the biggest and most lethal tornados to hit the Midwest in the last hundred years.
“You see something like that and it’s hard to believe,” said 14-year-old Dakota Baldwin, who said pictures of the tragedy don’t come close to revealing the actual devastation. “I’m¿sitting here right now and realize how much I’m blessed and realize that maybe I’ve been taking some things for granted after seeing what those poor people went through.”
“And that’s one of the key points we wanted to bring home to these very special young people,” said church elder Jessie Morris. Morris joined the six youth traveling to Missouri along with another elder, Victor Brown, who said he was very impressed with how the youth of Centennial came through in the midst of the destruction.
“When we got there, we got our assignments, carried them out in the name of the lord, and at the end of the day, these young people went above and beyond the call of duty,” Brown said.
Isaiah Byrrus is 16 years old and believes there’s a very simple explanation for wanting to help those in Joplin. “I¿just felt the need to help and serve God,”¿he said. “Besides, if that was me, I’d like to think there are people out there that would want to help me under those circumstances.”
Both Morris and Brown were proud of their youth for many reasons, one of which was the boldness with which the young people took on this task, which was epitomized by 14-year-old Malik Ford. “I didn’t see any apprehension on anyone’s part,” Ford said. “This is something that just had to be done. Those people needed all the help they could get.”
Ford also notes he brought something quite special back from Missouri. “I’ll remember this experience for years to come. And I know I¿achieved something the Lord would have wanted me to do.”
In terms of a new perspective, 16-year-old Darion Lewis articulated a thought that gave everyone in the room a moment of revelation. “It’s funny how we go through life never thinking anything like this could ever happen to us, or anyone we know,” said Lewis.¿“But that’s just what many people in Joplin were probably thinking the day before the tornado. It just goes to show we never know what lays before us.”
It’s safe to say this missionary trip not only helped the folks in Joplin, but allowed the youth of Centennial to gain first-hand insight as to what it is to be a Christian and serve the lord, and for 12-year-old Tyus Short, a truly special revelation.
“I¿look back on this trip and realize that maybe God wants me to follow in my grandfather’s shoes ...” said the 12-year-old described as wise beyond his years. “Maybe becoming a preacher someday is my calling.” When Tyus talks about “following in his grandfather’s shoes,” he’s talking about Centennial’s head pastor J.D.¿Short.
“Kenton Bottoms also is one of our youth that made the trip.” said Morris. Bottoms was unavailable at the time of the interview.
“And despite the fact we were honored to do the Lord’s work in Joplin, we’d like to acknowledge that it’s our church members that paid our way and prayed over us while we did our part to hopefully make the lord proud.”
New preacher, old soul
Bryson McGuire strides down the isle of Centennial Baptist, takes the pulpit, and grips the microphone as if it’s something he’s been doing for much longer than his entire life — he is, after all, only 18-years-old.
McGuire is the youth minister at Centennial Baptist who also starts the services off. “Beginning the services with praise and song is something I¿absolutely love because I¿can feel the spirit of the Lord in the room,” said McGuire. “And helping to lead others into the spirit of God is such a wonderful feeling. And it’s an honor I don’t take lightly,” said the young man who gives much credit to Pastor J.D. Short.
“Pastor Short has been a best friend and well as a spiritual father to me during my journey as a pastor,” said McGuire He credits his mother and father for leading him in the right spiritual direction.
“I’m a firm believer that if you’re not living your life for Jesus, you’re living an empty life,” he said. However, the young preacher has a special message for those not currently attending church.
“It’s never too late since the price of salvation has already been paid for with the blood of Christ,” he said. And McGuire believes it’s not just preachers, such as himself and Short, who can save souls.
“It’s up to everyone to reach out and share the word of God. And in that sense, we’re all preachers in our way.
But for anyone that has ever seen McGuire lead the congregation, it’s obvious this young man has been blessed with a special talent he wishes to share. When asked if he sees himself preaching for the rest of his life, McGuire is quick to respond.
“Oh Lord, yes! Till that final breath leaves my body.”