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Church members head to Mexico for mission work

By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
July 14, 2001
When you think about the work of missionaries, the first thing that comes to mind is someone who dedicates his life to serving God in the jungles of a Third World country.
There is, however, work for short-term missionaries and church members can fill that role.
Gary Phillips, longtime youth minister of First Baptist Church of Quitman, took a group of church members last month to Matamoros, Mexico, where they taught bible school in churches around the city for about a week.
Church members provide needed services
First Baptist-Quitman has three mission trips each year.
The June trip involved 60 youth members and adults.
In September, church members will join others from around Mississippi to provide a week of medical services to the Matamoros area. And in January, a group of church men will do construction work at the Matamoros Orphanage.
Phillips almost missed this year's youth trip.
He suffered a heart attack in January and underwent bypass surgery. Then in early May, doctors found a tumor attached to one of his kidneys. The kidney was removed May 17, three weeks before the Mexico trip.
So he did.
Tropical storm lengthened trip
With his wife Keri, Phillips flew to Matamoros while the rest of the group drove. Along the way, they ran in another obstacle in the form of Tropical Storm Allison.
Although Phillips' physical work was limited while he recovered from surgery, Keri said it was important to him to be there.
Phillips noted that First Baptist-Quitman had sent about 165 different people to the mission field since 1997. "A lot of people have gone several times, but we've had that many different people go," he said.
Phillips, a native of Sumner, just south of Clarksdale, has been in youth ministry for 29 years. He has been at First Baptist-Quitman since 1994.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3217, or e-mail him at sswogetinsky@themeridianstar.com.