MOULTRIE -- A group of 23 youth and adults left the state of Georgia to head down to Tijuana, Mexico, to build a church for Centro Shalom Ministries. The trip lasted from July 6 to July 20, and the group was able to complete roughly 80 percent of the work to build the church.

The group left on the trip to fulfill the mission God set before them in 1 Chronicles 28:10, which says, "Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary. Be strong and do the work." The trip was a joint venture with the First Baptist Church (FBC) of Moultrie and the First Baptist Church (FBC) of Norman Park.

FBC Moultrie Youth Minister Andy Cashwell said the churches were able to raise about $35,000 between them to make the trip to Tijuana. Of that money, about $17,000 was used for building supplies, and the churches left another $5,400 for Centro Shalom to complete the work. Cashwell said the group ran out of time to build before they ran out of money for supplies.

FBC Moultrie Minister of Music Sam Stephens said members of the church had previously been to Tijuana in both 2001 and 2002, providing humanitarian aid and leading Bible studies to the residents. This was the first time, however, the church had sent a group to build.

The opportunity to go on the mission trip was first opened with a meeting of Centro Shalom's director, Pastor Fernando Martinez, Cashwell said. Martinez asked Cashwell at a meeting earlier this year in Perry to come and build his ministry a church. Cashwell felt God's calling to go a few weeks after the meeting when he read 1 Chronicles 28:10.

In order to keep their personal costs down and allow for more building supplies, Cashwell said the group slept in a nearby seminary classroom and cooked their own meals.

Calling the mission trip a "God-sized task," Cashwell said the team could not do this work without God's help and direction. The Lord should receive the glory from the trip and the work completed, he said.

Brad Gregory from FBC Norman Park said it was great to see how God's plan was able to come together and to see how others were involved in getting it accomplished. He went down to Tijuana thinking he'd bless those with Centro Shalom but got blessed himself.

"We thought we'd go down there and be bringing a blessing," Gregory said, "but we ended up receiving a blessing."

Gregory said he and Cashwell talked while standing in the church they had built and were in awe of how God was able to get the building completed through them.

"It was neat to see God's plan in action," Gregory said.

A good example of God's work within the people was how both church groups were able to come together and work as a whole team, Stewart said. All 23 people were more like a family than a combined group of almost strangers from two separate churches.

Gregory said the group was very diverse but they were able to mesh together so perfectly. He could not see a group coming together as well as this group was able to.

With so much work left to be done in Tijuana, Gregory said there is a plan in the works for both churches to return in December, possibly to build and be a living Nativity scene. They may head back again during the Colquitt County's Spring Break, he said.

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