FORT MILL TOWNSHIP — “If I could ask for anything from the community, it would be prayers. We’re really going to need prayer over the next few months,” said Banks Baker, 22, as he sits at a table with his mother discussing his upcoming mission trip.
Baker is taking a year off from York Technical College to go on a six-month mission trip to Southeast Asia through Youth with a Mission, a Christian missionary organization. He will attend 12 weeks of intense Bible training at The University of the Nations in Kona, Hawaii, then embark on a three-month outreach program in Manila, Philippines and northern Thailand. Outreach will involve youth camps, school and church visits, and helping the impoverished peoples in the slums.
The trip, which begins this coming fall, costs $9,000, and while Baker, who went to Walnut Grove Christian School in Fort Mill and lives in Lake Wylie, has saved and raised $2,000, he is reaching out to the community for donations to help make up the difference.
“I’ve been organizing fundraisers to spread the word and raise money,” Baker said. “I’ve detailed cars, we’re hosting lemonade stands, and we just did a yard sale this morning.”
Upcoming fundraisers include two in Fort Mill this week and another in July. Also, there’s a “support table” for Baker at Beef O’Brady’s in Fort Mill. From now through Saturday, 20 percent of the proceeds from orders at that table will be donated to Banks.
“I want to raise half of the money by July 30, because I leave at the end of September,” Banks said. “It’s been amazing already to see how God is moving and how many people are willing to support me and my trip.”
Baker’s main fundraising tool is his testimony, that he feels many young people can relate to.
“I accepted Christ into my life on Jan. 17 this year, after I had been attending a men’s Bible Study with my friend Max,” he said.
“I went just to hang out, but I ended up going back again and again, and I realized that I need Christ in my life. I felt so unfulfilled by all the things a guy my age was supposed to have – girls, alcohol, parties. None of it made me feel less empty. Since I became a Christian my life has totally changed.”
After accepting Christ, Baker began to witness to his mother, Melissa Baker, who then became a Christian as well.
“He was totally changed. He actually led me to the Lord and it’s been something we can grow in together,” she said. “Of course it will be hard with him leaving for six months, but I’m so excited for how God is going to grow him through this experience.”
Being a new believer, one of Baker’s goals for the trip is to find himself through God’s plan, especially as he faces the future.
“I know God will reveal a lot of things to me over the next few months, and I think that will really help me find myself,” Baker said.