PETAL, MS (WDAM) - The Carterville Baptist Church delayed their mission trip to Nicaragua after receiving an urgent phone call that the destination was no longer safe due to an unrest in the country.
Pastor of Carterville Baptist Church and mission team lead Ben Skipper says the call came while members were waiting in line at the airport to receive their plane tickets.
"We knew there was unrest in the country but it was minimal and it was peaceful. So, we felt comfortable to carry out our mission," Skipper said. "When we were in the airport and we were in line at the ticket counter for our air carrier, we got a phone call from our mission leaders warning us that it was no longer safe and we needed to cancel our trip."
Pastor Skipper says his church has made multiple trips to Nicaragua in the past. He says this was the first time they've come close to being in a dangerous situation.
"We've had lots of communication from pastors, old translators, and friends that we've made in Nicaragua over the decades," Skipper said. "They are affirming the decision that it is not safe."
Skipper says the church is working to do everything they can to help their friends in the third-world country. He says the organization that his church work through for mission trips is Baptist Medical and Dental Mission International (BMDMI) which is based out of Hattiesburg.
"They are currently all safe but nervous," Skipper said. "They are asking for prayer from anybody who will offer prayers on their behalf."
Skipper says 32 people, members of Carterville Baptist and non-members, were expected to leave on the trip. He says several of the volunteers were doctors, dentists, physicians, and nurses.
He says they not only wanted to evangelize but also physically assist those in need.
Pastor Skipper says members were disappointed about not being able to head out. He says the experience has made them more resilient and optimistic.
"But I think that as long as we operate with level heads, we can be very committed to sharing the good news of hope and peace around the world," Skipper said. "So, yes I'm sure we'll go back."
Skippers says he believes the events in Nicaragua prove to him how important their work is.
"You might be pleasantly surprised when you unplug from the business of our world that third world and first world people are people," Skipper said. "You'll find a lot of joy and some wonderful people in countries all around the world. We're glad to serve and we've made a lot of great friends....I've often times feel more blessed than any blessing I could take with me."
Pastor Ben Skipper says they would've served nearly 3-thousand patients both medical and dental based on past trips.
He says for right now they'll be sending their prayers from home until next time.