Mobile Dental Ministry builds bridges to share gospel

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JACKSONVILLE— When Farrell and Crystal Crews retired, they knew they wanted to go into missions full-time. What they didn’t know was that God already had a place for them to serve.

Initially, the couple considered serving with Florida Baptist Disaster Relief, being available for weeks throughout the year wherever they were needed.

‘When you ask the Lord to use you for something, you better be ready.’

Farrell Crews Florida Baptist Mobile Dental Ministry

“We asked the Lord to use us, and when you ask the Lord to use you for something, you better be ready,” Farrell said.

As the couple were ready to serve, God led them to become the lead coordinators for the Florida Baptist Convention’s Mobile Dental Ministry. The Crews are now celebrating their fifth year in that role.

Five years ago, following the landfall of Hurricane Irma, the Mobile Dental Ministry was left without lead coordinators when the couple in that role at that time had to evacuate to safety and were unable to return to Florida.

“Projects were canceled; multiple people were driving the bus, and I had become discouraged,” said Marc Johnston, Florida Baptists’ missions and ministry catalyst. “I cried out to God and asked God to send someone to care for the bus as their baby.”

Led by God, Johnston placed a call to Northeast Florida Baptist Association—where Crystal had worked prior to retiring— and the staff there directed him to the Crews.

The Crews, who are members of Blackrock Baptist Church in Yulee, have always served in some ministry capacity within their local church. Becoming the new lead coordinators of the dental unit was a natural fit.

“During their commissioning service (without him knowing about my prayer), Farrell used the term ‘baby’ in describing his mission,” recalled Johnston.

“Farrell and Crystal are very passionate and competent in many aspects of the ministry,” said Johnston. “Farrell is a great driver. He fixes many issues himself. If he can’t, he finds the right person to make the repair. Crystal had years of experience volunteering in the Northeast Florida Baptist Association dental missions ministry. She understands the paperwork and items that the church or association needs to prepare.”

While Farrell drives and maintains the 23-year-old bus, Crystal serves as the lead coordinator inside the unit where she sterilizes the instruments, cleans and sterilizes the dental operatories after each patient, directs the use of digital X-ray equipment, and makes sure all equipment operates properly as well as placing orders for supplies and coordinating schedules.

More than dental work

But the Mobile Dental Ministry offers more than dental work; it provides an opportunity for churches to build bridges to share the gospel and bring the church together on mission.

“Farrell and Crystal Crews are such a blessing to the Mobile Dental Ministry and Fifth Street Baptist Church,” shared Josh Dryer, pastor of Fifth Street Baptist in Key West. “The dental ministry is an integral part of our strategy to accomplish the mission of Fifth Street Baptist Church, and these two saints are the individuals who God uses to make it happen.”

Dryer and Fifth Street have been praying and working for five years to reach Chinese immigrants at their local Chinese food restaurant. Many church members eat at the restaurant on a weekly basis. In the past, the church has served the Chinese immigrants Christmas dinner and special American desserts and shared the gospel with them. This year the restaurant workers finally accepted the church’s invitation to receive dental care through the Mobile Dental Ministry.

“One of the ladies from the restaurant prayed to receive Christ after she received dental care and prayer from the dentist. Now several people from the restaurant attend our Christmas Eve and Easter services every year. The Lord used Farrell and Crystal’s ministry to reach these people and to accomplish Fifth Street’s mission,” said Dryer.

“A few years back, one of the churches near St. Augustine had the mobile dental unit there,” remembered Crystal. “They were having problems in the church, and the pastor let us know that ministering through the dental unit helped bring the whole congregation together and brought new people into the church.”

Relationships are the key to making a difference for eternity through the Mobile Dental Ministry.

“Farrell never meets a stranger,” said Johnston.  “Both develop great relationships at the churches and associations that are hosting the Mobile Dental Ministry. They have made great friends across the state, and different ones have invited them to their homes for meals and overnight visits, even though neither their church nor association is hosting the dental unit at the time.

“God has truly blessed us with two people who love to serve the Lord.”

In the five years they have directed the ministry, the Crews have completed 140 projects ranging from Pensacola to Key West.

Looking forward to completing another 40 projects in 2023, they ask Florida Baptists to pray for them.

“We drive through storms and at night, and God has protected us always. Prayer, more than anything is what we need,” said Crystal.

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