Pictured Above – Gene Filer, center, is honored for his years of leadership in the Bella Vista Baptist Church Mobile Dental Mission. Marc Johnston, Community Ministries Catalyst for the FBC, joined Filer’s pastor, John Marsh, for this special event.
EDGEWATER—Bella Vista Baptist Church has found that serving people with their dental health needs can bring smiles to their faces and a difference in their eternities.
Each September for the past decade, the Edgewater congregation has hosted the Florida Baptist Convention’s Mobile Dental Unit at their church, offering free dental services to the needy in their Central Florida community.
In 2018 a hundred patients were treated by local volunteer dentists and health care professionals, providing services valued at $36,239.
While patients waited for their treatment, two evangelistic teams ministered to their spiritual needs. As a result, 20 people accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior that year.
Florida Baptists’ mobile dental clinic is a retrofitted bus furnished with equipment typically found in a dentist’s office. Staffed by volunteers, the bus travels across Florida offering free dental care for patients in need. The unit is a continuation of a mobile ministry that has provided free dental care for under-served Floridians since 1973.
Bella Vista uses as the mobile dental unit’s presence as a “springboard” for other ministries,” said Marc Johnson, Florida Baptists’ community ministries catalyst, “collaborating with other agencies and organizations to provide additional resources.” One year, they partnered with Walgreens to provide free flu shots.
The dental project has helped the church to connect with the needy people in their community allowing the congregation to create new opportunities to minister to many of the dental patients throughout the year, he added.
This year, Bella Vista recognized one of their long-time volunteers. For the past decade Gene Filer, 88, has served as the dental project director, providing leadership necessary for a dental project to operate efficiently.
“Gene Filer loves the Lord greatly, and is filled with compassion for his fellow man,” said Johnston. “He is meticulous with details which makes for a well-organized project that leads to physical and spiritual needs being met.”
Not only has Filer made a difference in the Edgewater community, he visited other churches to explain the benefits of the ministry and encourage others to field a mission of their own. “His leadership skills, Christian attitude, and loving dedication to the needs of the people in the Edgewater community are exemplary,” Johnston added.
Prior to this year’s project, Filer retired from his ministry due to health reasons.
On Sept. 13, Bella Vista recognized Filer for his leadership and commitment to the dental unit ministry.
Pastor John Marsh presented him with a plaque and declared the second Saturday of September as Gene Filer Day, which began Sept. 14.
“Gene is faithful to his Lord and to his God-called mission,” Johnston said.