Brenda Taylor was forever changed through her service with the Florida Baptist Convention’s Mobile Dental Unit.
“It’s a good feeling to know that you’re helping people who can’t help themselves,” Taylor, a member of First Baptist Church in Inverness, said.
The Mobile Dental Unit allows churches and associations to connect with the underserved in their communities by providing free dental care to those in need. The ministry is made possible by the generosity of Florida Baptists who give to missions through the Cooperative Program offering.
Taylor served the ministry as a regional coordinator for six years until a family emergency made it impossible for her to travel around the state with the Unit. It was not an easy decision for her and her time with the Mobile Dental Unit holds a special place in her heart.
“I shed many tears when I left the ministry,” she said.
Dr. Al Warren obviously feels much the same way as Taylor as he’s been serving with the Mobile Dental Unit for 28 years as a regional coordinator and a dentist. Warren said serving on the unit and sharing the gift of eternal life with the patients makes him feel like “God’s delivery boy.”
“I like the spirituality combining with the physicality of caring for the needs of people,” he said.
Melanie Hunt, a member of First Baptist Church in Tavares, can attest to the life transformation that takes place as patients are healed of their physical and spiritual pain.
“My heart is in it 120% because I love people,” she said.
Hunt appreciates having the chance to get to know people that come to the Unit who need the Lord, like a young recovering drug addict who had recently been diagnosed with cancer.
“[The woman] said she needed to know she wasn’t alone and she texted me throughout the next week. When I saw her at a Christmas parade, she ran up to me and hugged me,” Hunt recalled. “This is why we do this.”
Marc Johnston, Church and Community Catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention, works with regional coordinators and project directors to make sure the Mobile Dental Unit sees people in need all over the state. In 2017 alone:
- 2,198 patients were seen
- $991,570 in services were provided
- 176 people came to know the Lord
Johnston said volunteers are always needed to coordinate the locations where the Unit will be in specific regions as well as staff people to serve on the Unit to assist the dentists and their patients.
“Everyone in the world needs to go volunteer at least once,” Hunt said. “I’m blessing [the patients] but they’re blessing me.”
By Nicole Kalil, Florida Baptist Convention, January 23, 2018.