Life-changing trip prompts church softball tourney

A mission trip to the Philippines by a delegation from Union Hall Baptist Church has prompted them to organize support for an orphanage that helps children rescued from poverty, abuse and abandonment. A benefit co-ed softball tournament is scheduled for July 26. Gathering with a group of school children from the orphanage are from left, Christopher Cox, Zach Hamilton, Keith Hamilton, Pastor Robert Butts and David Hess. (Courtesy Photo)

A mission trip to the Philippines by a delegation from Union Hall Baptist Church has prompted them to organize support for an orphanage that helps children rescued from poverty, abuse and abandonment. A benefit co-ed softball tournament is scheduled for July 26. Gathering with a group of school children from the orphanage are from left, Christopher Cox, Zach Hamilton, Keith Hamilton, Pastor Robert Butts and David Hess. (Courtesy Photo)

By Dana Delgado

A life-changing mission trip to the Philippines recently has prompted Union Hall Baptist Church of Liberty Hill to action.

Children destined for poverty, abandonment and abuse are at stake, explained Pastor Robert Butts. There was no turning away.

“The mission trip was life-changing,” said Pastor Butts. “It really was, but it impacted us all the same.”

The church’s support efforts are being called the James 1:27 Project.

“We’d love to get other churches involved as well as businessmen and women and members of our community,” the Pastor said. “I’m excited what God will do and how he will guide us.”

In the church’s initial benefit, a co-ed softball tournament for players 16 and older is scheduled for Saturday, July 26.

Registration for complete teams ($200) or individuals ($20) in need of a team is underway and will continue through Monday, July 21.  Prizes and t-shirts will be awarded to the top three teams.  All proceeds will go towards the relief efforts in the Philippines.

A planned 10-day mission trip to the Philippines this past March went unexpectedly awry upon arrival for Pastor Butts and his three-member church delegation.

“It just didn’t work out,” said Pastor Butts. “We had to change our plans.”

The soured arrangements to assist with the relief effort from the 2013 devastating typhoon turned for the best, however, when the church delegation came across the Joy Land Orphanage, a small kindergarten through 12th grade school and orphanage in Silay City, an area identified as one of the most depressed areas of the country where unemployment, poverty and homelessness are serious issues, according to the orphanage’s Australian founders.

Since its opening, the orphanage has provided a home, medical and dental help, and hope for many orphans, street kids and abandoned and abused children.

Unfortunately, Pastor Butts explained, operators of the orphanage had recently learned that the facilities did not fully meet United Nations standards especially the showering and restroom areas and needed to be upgraded to continue operating.  The Australian operators were concerned about where immediate funding could be raised to make the necessary improvements.

Pastor Butts said it only took one look at the widespread poverty in the country to realize that his church, Union Hall Baptist Church of Liberty Hill, needed to be involved in supporting the mission of the Joy Land Orphanage and breaking the cycle of poverty.

The unspent funds targeted for typhoon relief were donated to the Joy Land Orphanage moving the operators to tears, he said. The Union Hall Baptist Church delegation led by Pastor Butts returned to Liberty Hill vowing to establish a partnership with the organization and assist further.

“God orchestrated it all,” said Pastor Butts. “And the trip completely changed my perspective. I didn’t realize the extent of poverty. We are planning another trip this year.”

Individuals interested in donating may contact the UHBC Office at (512) 515-5811 or send email to  Office@uh-bc.com.

The church will also have a “Donate Link” active soon on its website project link:  http://uh-bc.com/j127/

For more information on the softball tournament, call (512) 525-0072.

The Union Hall Baptist Church, celebrating its 126th anniversary this year, is located at 301 County Road 259 in Liberty Hill.