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It started with a whisper: How one West Texas church impacts their local community with service

A single lyric from a song, “Oh, somebody needs the light you have,” adds further fuel to an already passionate ACTNow missions team from Lubbock’s Southcrest Baptist Church. To describe this team as passionate is like saying the wind blows a little in West Texas.

This group is on fire. And it all started with a whisper.

“I just heard from God one Sunday morning in 2012 telling me to speak to our pastor about our church being involved on a local level,” said ACTNow Director Debra Campbell. “I felt we weren’t doing enough here in our own backyard.”

Campbell soon had a committee working on the idea, and in May 2013, it became a reality.

“We launched it with a huge food drive, and we were excited because the church responded so well,” she said. “We started by going to all the Sunday School classes and presenting to them local opportunities that existed outside of our church walls. We now have a website, an easy tool listing all the ministries and opportunities we partner with, some are working with children, some working with young moms. Each area has a different church liaison tied to that ministry.”

Enter the connection with Buckner.

“Buckner does so much for the community, everything from foster care to now the Family Hope Center that’s here. We love how the Family Hope Center helps families,” said Allie Wood, missions administrator. “Foster children is an area that’s special to our church. We had an angel tree at Christmas and our members loved it. They were asking if they could get the children extra things beyond what was on the lists. They took great care in buying everything.”

Caring for foster care children at Christmas is only the start of what Southcrest has done for Buckner. Two back-to-back successful shoe drives for Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls® is also on the list, assisting with back-to-school drives, and sponsoring foster families with meals, prayer, support and friendship. 

“I know that when I call on Southcrest for help with a big project or a little one, this church is going to come through big-time,” said Becky Robertson, Buckner volunteer coordinator in Lubbock. “They are a huge blessing to our families and children that we serve.”

So what’s the secret at Southcrest for getting members involved at this level?

“We have found out that the key to making this work is prayer,” Campbell said. “Couldn’t do it without prayer and the support we get from our church staff. This is not about giving money. That’s all good to do, but it’s about us as church members getting outside the walls of the church and loving people, helping to meet their needs and sharing the gospel. It’s that simple, and it’s awesome to see our members serving so well.”

“By serving others like this, we get out of our comfort zones,” said Denise Stout, the co-director for ACTNow. “We decided to call our initiative ACTNow because we wanted action. Getting out, serving and loving people – that’s what is needed today.”

And that song lyric? Comes from a song, “Pushing Back the Dark,” by Josh Wilson, the pastor’s son who performed the song at a church service. 

“Whatever you do, just don’t look back. 
Oh somebody needs the light you have.    
Whatever you do, just don’t lose heart.
Keep on pushing back the dark.
Keep on pushing back the dark.”

Besides Buckner, the church also serves elementary schools throughout Lubbock, the local Ronald McDonald House, back-to-school events, provides Thanksgiving meals, tutors students, partners with other churches and on and on. The list of how Southcrest is “pushing back the dark” is endless.

“It’s been a culture change for our church over the years,” Stout said. “We have a lot of self-starters who now just go out on their own and serve on a regular basis. It’s wonderful to see all the lives they are touching. We want our members to take that first step and just keep going.”

Written by Gilbert Montez, the senior director for church and network relations for Buckner. If your church wants to participate in the various ministry opportunities serving vulnerable children and families, contact Gilbert at gmontez@buckner.org. 

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