Mobilizing missionaries
Hannah Harrison
AFA Journal staff writer

November 2019In the small town of New Albany, Mississippi, a local church is striving to minister to everyone. Six years ago, at Hillcrest Baptist Church, a team of leaders banded together to create a ministry designed for ages 4 to 104 with
special needs.

Church members began noticing the need for a place where students with special needs could come and learn about Jesus, but also, where parents could sit through worship without worrying about their child. As they began looking into this need, they noticed their community was lacking support for families experiencing these situations. Thus, with a heart for seeing students and families come to the Lord, HALOS was born.

Reach the families
From the desire of wanting to help families worship freely, HALOS has developed into a ministry that is mobilizing missionaries. The ministry’s name is short for “Helping All Love Our Savior,” and that is exactly what they do.

Through community-wide events such as a fall festival, vacation Bible school, and even the Tim Tebow Foundation Night to Shine, Hillcrest has ministered to children both locally and statewide. They use their Sunday school classes, extended care, and a Wednesday night small group called “Mission 4:12” to teach students the scriptural importance of following Jesus and ministering to others while they do so.

Mission 4:12 is based on 1 John 4:12 – “We love because He first loved us.” Here, the students learn how to complete Bible drills, recite the names of the books of the Bible, and most importantly, to love others as Jesus loves them.

That isn’t a problem for these students.

Hillcrest committee member Michelle Armstrong observed, “These students teach us more about love than we could ever learn on our own.”

In Mission 4:12, these special students are truly becoming the hands and feet of Christ. Leaders teach students to “make, take, and pray” for those in need of encouragement. Recently, with the help of leaders, students made goodie bags to deliver to firemen and police officers on this year’s remembrance of September 11. Likewise, they visit nursing homes, make snack bags for elementary students, and place prayer cards on car windows.

Teach the students
The student missionaries in the HALOS ministry are loved, and they love learning about the Word of God. In HALOS, they are given the opportunity to worship, learn, and tell others about Jesus. It is encouraging to all who have the chance to witness their progress.

Co-Chairman Jessica Jordan is also the mother of a special needs child.

“It’s so comforting for parents to know that while their child is being loved in a safe environment and learning about the love of Christ, their family can come to Hillcrest, and come to know Jesus as their Savior,” she said. “And then they have the opportunity to serve Him and others as well.”

It’s a circle. As students come into the fold of HALOS, they bring their family, friends, and strangers into the church family. Passionate teachers, volunteers, and church members are leading these students to the realization that they have a place serving Jesus, and in Him, they have a “forever friend.”

HALOS is changing the town of New Albany and the ministry of Hillcrest Baptist Church. Through HALOS, the kingdom of heaven is growing. The mission is simply to lead special needs students to know how to love and serve Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and to mobilize them as missionaries no matter their physical abilities.