Power of Prayer: From East Texas to South Dallas

When ministries talk about "mission" work most people think that happens far, far away.

Well one East Texas church felt its call to the mission field was only about 90 miles from home. But as KLTV's Clint Yeatts found out, the short trip was in reality a long way from home.

"We kind of termed this the farm going to the city. We also thought about the idea of having name badges but you could tell who we were and where we were at," said Winnsboro Minister Kyle Ray.

It wasn't hard to tell that some strangers had arrived at the corner of Martin Luther King and I-45 in south Dallas.  The group had gather at what will be Cornerstone Baptist Church's new facility this summer.

But today it was a group of East Texans who had come to minister.  "A lot of churches are trying to look outside their walls to figure out what they can do and how they can minister and sometimes it's just hard to get the ball rolling," said Ray, who is Missions Minster at Pine Street Baptist Church in Winnsboro. "This was one of those things for us I think is going to get the ball rolling for us. We've been real active in ministry locally but this is a real eye opener for us."

Ray says  members last year began to pray about where God would have them focus their mission efforts.

"We just began praying about that and a couple of people from the missions committee took a trip to Dallas, like a vision trip, and came across Cornerstone Baptist Church. And discovered in the urban setting of south Dallas, which used to be called the war zone, this church was ministering in a way that caught our attention and we wanted to be a part of that," said Ray.

"We are called to reach out beyond our own community to other communities so we are very appreciative that this church from Winnsboro would willing to reach out beyond their community to help us reach our community here in south Dallas," said Cornerstone Pastor Chris Simmons.

The two churches felt God leading them to work together. Their first project would be a block party at the site of their new building to open this summer.

About 40 church members, half of those teenagers, went on the mission trip.  Most admit they were way out of their comfort zone standing on the streets of south Dallas, including Winnsboro sophomores Shelly, Karlee and Angela.  But by the end of the day they found things weren't exactly they way they thought they would be.

"At first your like nervous, talk to them, caused your scared they are going to be mean to you. After you talk to them they are like really friendly and stuff and you can just talk to them forever they have so much to say," says high school student Shelly Smith.

"I thought everyone was going to be in a bad situation," said sophomore Karlee Finney. "And it wasn't going to be like anyone had any money or anything that was there but there was and they were really nice and I thought they were going to be mean it was scary or anything. I learned they are just like us and that they need a lot of love and stuff."

"I learned not to be so quick to judge you know," says Winnsboro teen Angela Watkins. "Just because they look one way doesn't mean that they are that way. Like, some of them may look like they are criminals, you know, they are about to take your money or something. But they are really sweet and have their own opinions and feelings about everything."

As for the church they say they'll be back here again and soon. They found that the power of prayer works as well on the streets of Dallas as it does in rural East Texas.

"I think that's the thing I see as common ground," says church member Tim Yeager. "They have the same needs as we do and there is no difference there.  And it's about loving our brother and sisters. It was, to me at the core of it, is love from one culture to another if you want to say. Or one geographic location to another and probably you don't have to go that far to find a place that you need that."

"I don't know how you rate success," said Pine Street Youth Minister Nub Brown.  "I just know we were able to love on some less fortunate people. We were able to just befriend them for a little while and help them understand that the same God that loves us loves them. And that's really what we wanted to convey. We didn't have an agenda going in. We just wanted to minister and I hope that's what we did."

Clint Yeatts, Reporting.  cyeatts@kltv.com