Georgia college students help make summer super for Massachusetts children

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BILLERICA, MA — For the past 25 years, New Colony Baptist Church in Billerica, MA has been teaching children from the community about the love of Jesus Christ through Super Summer Camp. For four weeks every July members of New Colony, along with help from other churches’ mission teams, spend time loving on children in the community while living and sharing the Gospel.

Phil Wilkes and his wife, Sue, moved to Massachusetts to serve at New Colony Baptist after ministering at several Georgia Baptist churches. CLARISSA MORRISON/Collegiate Ministries

Each week of Super Summer has a theme: music, crafts, sports, and Adventure Week (also known as VBS in the South!) Music week ends with the children performing a Christian musical for their parents, families, and friends. This helps to fulfill another goal of Super Summer, according to Pastor Phil Wilkes – “Building awareness in the community that we’re here, we want to help and we care about them and their kids.”

Wilkes grew up in Stone Mountain, where he was a member of Mountain Park First Baptist Church. After seminary, he pastored several churches in Georgia including Kensington, Rowland Springs in Cartersville, Ocilla Baptist, and First Baptist Forest Park.

Eventually, Wilkes and his family moved to Massachusetts when he became pastor at New Colony Baptist Church. While he says that his family takes a much-needed vacation in August, he has seen the value of Super Summer first hand.

Wilkes tells a story of a little girl, Emily, whose family is a member of another church but she and her sister began attending Super Summer. When she became a Christian the little girl asked her parents if Wilkes could be the one to baptize her, due to the relationship she’d built with New Colony and its pastor.

It takes time

Amy Ho (University of North Georgia), Jaclyn Eaves (University of West Georgia), and Amber Bittle (Georgia Southwestern University play a game with Super Summer kids. CLARISSA MORRISON/Collegiate Ministries

When asked about the greatest benefits of Super Summer, Wilkes says of the children, “They are learning the Gospel. They are getting a presentation of what it means to follow Jesus and how much God loves them. We’re helping kids understand that being a Christian is about a relationship with Jesus.”

And for the benefits to their church, he says, “building trust with families.” He goes on to explain that “in New England, this takes time, maybe years. Super Summer allows us to touch families for Christ that will probably never come to church.”

Robyn Marsh has been directing Super Summer as a volunteer for the last 12 years while also working as a veterinary technician.

When asked why she continues to serve in this way, she said, “I believe in the program and I love the girls that are sent to me.”

The “girls” she refers to are the two summer missionaries that Georgia Baptist Collegiate Ministry has been sending to help with Super Summer for more than ten years. Many of these “girls” go back to volunteer again and sometimes bring a mission team from their home church. Super Summer is a meaningful ministry that reaches kids for Christ and helps show the community that the church cares.

Marsh adds that like many churches or ministries, there are never enough volunteers. Every child needs personal attention and that cannot happen without enough people willing to serve.

Lasting impact

UGA BCM Campus Minister Franklin Scott and Pastor Phil Wilkes stand with *Anthony, who prayed at Super Summer to receive Christ. *name changed CLARISSA MORRISON/Collegiate Ministries

This week at Super Summer, with a mission team from SendMeNow, a ministry of Georgia BCM, one boy who has participated in Super Summer for several years made a life-changing decision. With Wilkes and Franklin Scott, campus minister at UGA BCM, young Anthony prayed to receive Christ. His life is eternally changed because a church made a decision to impact their community.

During the last 25 years of Super Summer, praying with a child to receive Christ does not happen very often. Most of the time, the prayer of this church is to “let God work on the children for the harvest.” So, considering Andrew and his new relationship with Christ, it’s hard not to wonder where he might be 25 years from now and how he might be impacting his community for Christ.

Wilkes would like to thank Georgia Baptists for sending mission teams and SendMeNow Missions, the collegiate summer missions program of Georgia BCM who continue to send two summer missionaries each summer to help with this ministry. Georgia Baptists have supported Super Summer by sending mission teams from Mountain Park First Baptist, FBC Lavonia, FBC Statesboro, FBC Thompson, Central Baptist in Douglasville, and FBC Sandersville.

If you or your church is interested in sending a mission team to New Colony next summer or any summer to serve alongside this church in Super Summer, contact Phil Wilkes at New Colony Baptist Church, (978) 663-4773.

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