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Glencoe woman makes mission trip to Africa | Enjoy Travelling
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Glencoe woman makes mission trip to Africa

Glencoe woman makes mission trip to Africa

All her life, Renae Sparks has been acquainted with the Baptist theme of missions. Especially as the wife of a Southern Baptist preacher, she’s been well-versed in the support of a predominant feature of that denomination, especially in foreign countries.

Sparks has helped in many mission endeavors — had always thought of “maybe, one day, going on a mission trip” — but had never done so.

That changed when she met a group from Rainbow City Presbyterian Church who annually travel to Tanzania to spread the Gospel to people who have never heard of Jesus Christ.

Tanzania, in southeastern Africa, probably is best known as the home of Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s said that the 54 countries of the world’s second-largest continent has seen the largest growth in Christianity.

“I’m a member of Mount Gilead Baptist Church in Webster’s Chapel,” Sparks said. “I began attending some Wednesday night services at RPC and listened to Wade Hooper and others who talked about their upcoming mission trip and decided to go with them.”

In a previous Times article about RPC’s mission outreach to Tanzania, Hooper asked, “Where else could you go and have over 1,000 people standing in line to hear the Gospel?”

Hooper described going to this country of nearly 45 million people as an incredible opportunity, life-changing both for those who go and those who are ministered to. Mission team members serve in such roles as medical, evangelism, prayer room, distribution of reading glasses and sunglasses, children’s ministry, pastor conference, ladies’ hygiene and food preparation.

So when Hooper began organizing his seventh mission trip to Tanzania, Sparks signed on. She didn’t realize exactly what she was getting into.

The schedule from Hooper: “Hotel accommodations first and last nights, and two nights at mid- mission while on sightseeing safari. Target two villages in the bush where access to medical care and the Gospel are limited. The teams sleep in tents, cook their own food, dig pits for toilets and use bottled water only. There will be no electricity, no running water, no paved roads, no cars or trucks. Four days of set-up, medical clinic and all other mission activities in first village. Two days on sightseeing safari to a national park with hotel accommodations and exotic African animals in the wild. Three days in second village to repeat all work done in first village.”

A weeping Sparks said the trip was what the Lord had wanted her to do. ”This was the most life-changing thing I have ever done,” she said. “I didn’t know before just how much it would be.”

The missioners went into the country’s mountains — 6,000 feet above sea level — to an area where the population had never seen white people before. “They mostly just stared at us at first, but were happy to see us,” Sparks said. “It didn’t take long for us to become friends and they were so happy to accept the medicines we brought.”

Sexually transmitted diseases are rampant in that part of the world. The mission team gave out $5,000 worth of antibiotics and other medicines, then had to order more from the city of Arusha, six hours away.

Sparks said other major health problems were sinus infections (because of the high altitude) and diabetes. “The team dispensed eyeglasses and gave out hundr of pairs of sunglasses that were eagerly sought after,” she said. Other items provided were mosquito nets, study Bibles and many knitted caps and children’s dresses.

“It was not unusual for as many as 790 patients to be served by our pharmacy after their visit through the clinic, which was staffed by medical doctors and other qualified members of our team,” Sparks said.

The team treated a total of 3,443 men, women and children in its medical clinic and pharmacy — and the Gospel was taught and preached to more than 3,000 participants during their stay.

Many had never heard a clear presentation of salvation, Sparks said. “Pastors preached a mixture of different denominations they had heard about instead of God’s Word,” she said.

Hooper led the pastor’s conference, where participants were able to study the Bible for several hours each day.

After her 16-day journey — which featured 64 hours of (round-trip) travel time from her Glencoe home — Sparks was asked if she would do it again.

“Yes,” she replied. “If it’s God’s Will, I will go back in June 2019.”

Sparks is willing to her adventure with others. Call 256-295-3689 for more information.

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