DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
COTTONWOOD SHORES — Cottonwood Shores Mayor Donald Orr stood watching the half-dozen youth move tires and cut some brush at the city’s BMX and skate park. He smiled.
“This is great,” Orr said. “This is incredible. It’s wonderful.”
The youth were part of the Highland Lakes Baptist Encampment’s mission-training program. And from June 24-27, more than 100 high school and college youth descended upon Cottonwood Shores to work. They painted the police department and the city hall. They worked at the BMX and skate park. They cut a nature trail in one of the city’s parks.
“This gives us the opportunity to finish some of the things we just haven’t been able to complete yet,” Orr said.
The project came about through Hope Baptist Church of Cottonwood Shores. Pastor Fred Goff explained the encampment started the mission-training program to teach youth skills they’ll use on mission trips to other countries or other locations across the United States.
Goff and church leaders thought Cottonwood Shores offered a great place for the youth to learn those skills. At the future permanent site of Hope Baptist Church on Magnolia, youth from Buchanan Baptist Church of Texarkana worked on mixing and pouring concrete. But it wasn’t just show up and pour. They had to prepare the site and level the ground.
“It’s a good experience for them,” said Samantha Bramhall, the Buchanan Baptist Church youth leader. Even she learned how to use the surveying equipment. But it’s more than putting in a day of labor, she explained.
“Our purpose is really to serve others with a servant’s heart,” Bramhall said. “We want to be the hands and feet of Christ. Here, (the youth) can see they are making a difference in this community. And I think that’s important because they’re doing something for somebody else.”
Caleb Higdon of the Southern Baptist Texas Convention was lending a hand at the BMX park. The facility had a rough outline of a track but not much else. The encampment mission-training team was hard at work moving dirt, cutting the track and moving old car tires into place around the track. The youth come from across Texas, so they probably won’t reap the benefits of their hard work, but others will.
That’s the key, Hidgon explained.
“I think what this is all about is serving where the Lord put us and not necessarily because we, or they’ll, get a benefit from it,” he said. “Because probably none of these youth will be back here to ride the track. It’s all about serving others.”
And while the youth might not see or hear it, Orr was happy they were taking time from their summer to help his community.
“They’re making a difference,” he said. “I’m thankful for all they are doing.”