ROCKINGHAM — Deep Impact is a part of the North Carolina Baptist Assembly and is a student missions organization that primarily targets youth groups to travel across the state during the summer doing mission work.
This week, the group has set up camp at First Baptist Church, and it’s first main event was a block party that was to be held at Cobb Memorial Baptist Church. Although the mission initially was to stay at the church to minister, the day turned out to be about much more than that.
“We had a block party scheduled down at Cobb Memorial, but unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on which perspective you take — the crowd didn’t show up today so we had an abundance of food that through discussion and the Lord’s leading we decided that, as Jesus did, going out in the streets,” said Paul McCarthy, who is a member of Cobb Memorial but also represents Deep Impact. “So we’ve changed up the program. We’re flexible as Christians, and we need to be.”
McCarthy said the new plan was to go out in the streets of East Rockingham and down near the U.S. 220 bridge “where we know there’s some homeless folks that are hungry all the time,” and take hot dogs chips from the block party “and the word of God,” to “spread the ministry that way instead of sitting on our duffs and waiting for the people to come.”
“We’re gonna go to the people just as Christ did,” he added.
And that’s exactly what they did Tuesday afternoon, but according to Deep Impact Assistant Director Matti Smith, the point of Deep Impact is to get involved with the community.
“Pretty much what we do is youth groups and their chaperones come into the location that we’re set up at. Sometimes it’s a church like this, and sometimes we’re at an actual mission camp or last week we were at Camp Caswell. Mostly it’s churches like this,” she said. “We get everything ready for the students on Sunday and then Monday through Friday they’re here doing mission projects.”
Smith said she and the other four counselors on hand like to focus on allowing the students to fellowship with other people their age, and they do that by putting them into groups with people that aren’t from their church.
“They’re able to submit their preferences on mission projects that they wanna do,” Smith said. “Typically what we do is we have a couple of categories. We have sports teams, children’s teams, servant evangelism teams, which those are just kinda doing whatever, construction teams. Those are the main ones. We do a wide variety of projects that really focus on getting the youth out in the communities to not only help the people here but allow them to kind of grow as believers in Christ.
Smith, who is in her third year on staff and second year as an assistant director, has been involved with Deep Impact for nine years altogether. She said being a camper is what inspired her to continue on as a staffer. As for the week ahead, she and her staff will focus on community engagement with the 101 campers that are taking part in the missions.
“We will have a couple of construction projects that we’ll go on that are more one-on-one projects with homeowners. But we have servant evangelism teams and children’s teams who are really trying to get out in the community and just let people know that we’re here this week,” she said. “They’re gonna be doing a lot of things like cooking hot dogs for people, just kinda out there having fun, showing people that, yeah, we’re here to spread Christ’s light and show his love but at the same time we’re not trying to intimidate people. Just finding unique ways to bring people in. We also have two senior adult teams who are visiting either a couple of shut-ins or helping people with projects that they’re unable to do.”
“More so this week than any other Deep Impact week I’ve been involved with we’ve really tried to put together projects that are allowing the students to get to know members of the community and really see the relationships that are being formed rather than just doing projects that don’t really relate to the people themselves.”
William R. Toler contributed to this story. Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.