Our Neighbor – John Baxter

Grand Bay has always been the kind of town that takes care of its people. We have had a tradition of caring for each other for as long as there has been a Grand Bay. Some would argue that this type of attitude started even before we had a name as the first few residents became part of the area and needed to depend on each other to create shelter, food and survive the pitfalls of severe weather and the elements. 

Over the course of Grand Bay’s history, we have always had people that would go the extra mile to be sure others were cared for, safe and loved. 

Fast forward to modern times and we see many examples. Chris and Bob Henley started reaching out to at risk folks, the poor and homeless over 2 decades ago through their Truck Stop ministries. They helped untold numbers of people over the course of their ministry and Chris Henley continues that today. 

At the time of the last Homeless Snapshot, when a national count of the homeless occurs, there were over 50 people living in Grand Bay that fit the criteria to be considered homeless. 

A relative newcomer to our community who has also assisted in working on this problem is Pastor John Baxter of the First United Methodist Church of Grand Bay. He has taken on a leadership role in helping the homeless. When he came to Grand Bay years ago he and his wife, Rachael, with the support of the parishioners of his church and their youth ministry started a food program to reach out into our poor and homeless community overlapping the Truck Stop ministries good works. 

Pastor John tells stories of the people our community has helped up and out of homelessness and poverty.  Families living in cars with young children, groups of vets and others living under blue tarps in the woods and people who used to be our friends and neighbors who have fallen on bad times are among those who have been given a helping hand.  

Listening to Pastor John and others involved in this outreach is amazingly rewarding. When he relates the successes of moving virtually all of the homeless out of the woods and into housing or shelters, some gaining full time employment and some being reunited with long estranged family and moving home, it is hard not to hear the excitement and pride in his voice. 

Pastor John shares the credit with others and is extremely humble. I do not think he has the word “I” in his everyday vocabulary. He takes pride in the fact that our community and his congregation have been the support he and others have needed to do this important work. He often tells stories of the incredible magic that happens when we work together. Anonymous people step forward to provide funding for and assistance to keep these things going, people have supported him and others with services and goods as well as food and shelter. We have people that have stepped out of the homeless community that are now working to feed, clothe and shelter others. 

It is because of this tireless work that I am proud to call John my friend and support him along with many others in our community with his ongoing good works.

All of our local Churches and many of our Non-Profit groups have ministries or programs that assist in these efforts. With their help and cooperation Pastor John, and a rag tag group of men and women are working to establish a community-wide cooperation with a new organization, the Compassionate Care Team. 

If you would like more information about the Compassionate Care Team and what you can do to assist us please feel free to contact Kimon Brown at  kimonbrown@gmail.com or 251-865-7604. You can also look for more info on the Compassionate Care Team on Facebook.

Submitted by Kimon Brown

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