The needs are many but the resources are limited.
But that did not prevent Georgia Baptists from renewing their longstanding commitment today (Dec. 8) to improving healthcare for residents in need.
From providing services to an indigent care clinic in Morganton/Mountaintown Association to purchasing ultrasound equipment for pregnancy resource centers across the state, the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation awarded 40 grants at its annual Awards Banquet.
The list of deserving ministries was impressive: funds for dental services, treatment and intervention for children, free health services for current or retired ministers, and breast cancer care were among the recipients at the ceremony.
The event – a brief program and check presentation – is frequently referred to as Christmas in February as agencies receive funds to extend their ministries for the coming year.
This year’s grantees shared in $2,980,477 in grants, down slightly from last year’s $3,160,617 which was distributed to 50 recipients. Since the first grants were awarded in 2006 the Foundation has distributed $45,301,277 to 608 recipients.
Will Bacon, president and CEO of the ministry, noted that selections focused on “’hands-on’ health care ministries in and through Georgia Baptists.
“Our efforts in offering grants to non-profit health care organizations is intended to lighten the burden of those who offer health care services, and those who receive those benefits,” he continued. “We are privileged to have this abundant treasure in earthen vessels from which we share.
“Because we have been given much, we know much is required. We hold these assets, and our ability to share them, as a sacred trust.”
Over the past dozen years of distributing grants, millions of lives have been touched through spiritual and physical healing. Among those:
- 3,381,086 lives affected;
- 17,229 professions of faith;
- 19,862 pregnancies carried to full term in Georgia;
- 67,662 volunteers delivering services;
- 6,131 ministers and family members served.
In his three-point address, Bacon answered questions that helped focus the reason for the gathering of the grantees.
First, “Why are we here?”
He responded by stating the answer as being far deeper than just to accept a check. An overview of the Foundation’s history, beginning in 1901 with Tabernacle Baptist Church pastor and medical doctor Len Broughton’s pursuit of providing healthcare to primarily indigents in the back alleys of downtown Atlanta.
“This has been a relentless pursuit since our beginning,” he related from the historical perspective. “… to focus on how we will help reduce people’s suffering” in the name of Christ.
Secondly, Bacon asked “Where are we going?”
He likens the ceremony to that of a commissioning service, not unlike what he and his wife experienced in 1986 when they were sent by Southern Baptists as missionaries to France.
“If you are like me, it had something to do with healing our human brokenness, helping transform the human race into the human family.
He then quoted Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.”
Bacon then added that, “It is too easy for some who pass by on the other side, to become calloused and careless toward the suffering of fellow sojourners. But I remind us that nothing right in the world is accomplished without struggle. The struggle is real, but we are stronger than the struggle. We have in fact signed on for this struggle.
“Something miraculous does occur when people of faith act with the courage of the Christ for faith is that vehicle we employ to get us from where we are, to where God is taking us; from our reality, to God’s possibility.
“We don’t accomplish much without faith. In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Gal. 5:6) NLT
Thirdly, he asked “Who is going to lead us?”
He replied by referring to the grantees as “disrupters, mavericks, and catalyzers, divergent travelers who chose a healer’s path. I doubt if any of you signed on for fame & fortune. Today, at this celebration, you will receive both.”