Smyrna resident Beth Tucker, with the help of her high school friends, made dresses for girls, who were made homeless by the Haiti earthquake. (Photo submitted)
At age 16, Beth Tucker received confirmation about her ministerial destiny.
In that stage of life, while many teenage girls are into frolicsome events and infatuation with boys, Beth was praying about her roadmap of life, a route leading her to do Christian mission work in foreign lands.
Knowing she was to have a global ministry, Beth was no high school party girl.
“Instead of parties, I was serving as president of First Priority (a student Christian group) and Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” she said. “While at La Vergne High, I didn’t receive many invitations to parties, but that was OK, for I knew my life’s mission was to love and serve God and his children.”
Fast forward to 2012, at age 23, Smyrna resident Beth’s ministerial call has resulted in hundreds of starving and homeless children in Haiti receiving life-sustaining food and clothing.
“In Haiti, a child doesn’t know when they will eat again,” Beth described. “In America, we don’t know poverty – real poverty. Here, if we have financial problems, we go to a church or the food bank to get groceries, but not in Haiti. Food and clean water are the most needed in Haiti, this hemisphere’s poorest country.”
While still in her teens and a student at MTSU, Beth became a part-time children’s minister at Parkway Baptist Church in Smyrna.
“I had received the call of my life at age 16, while attending a youth conference where (Nashville-based world evangelist) Brent Gambrell was speaking about the plight of thousands of homeless, helpless children in Haiti. And that’s when I knew my spiritual call from God: to serve and love his children,” she added. “And I knew I was to go to Haiti.”
But in America, a teen needs parental consent to go to a foreign country.
“My parents (Ginger and Terry Tucker) said ‘no’ initially,” Beth said. “Specifically, my mother said, ‘Haiti is where they throw rocks at one another.’ That was when the CNN Network was showing civil unrest daily in Haiti. So naturally, my parents were and still are concerned about my health and well-being.”
“We’re a typical family,” Beth described, who has three sisters, Rebecca, Bonnie and Betsy.
After joining the ministerial team at Parkway Baptist, Beth fulfilled the first step in becoming a foreign missionary.
“At age 19, I made my first (of five) life-changing trip(s) to Haiti,” she said.
Her world missionary vision has not only helped children in Haiti, but dozens of children in Smyrna, Murfreesboro, Woodbury, Eagleville, La Vergne, Mt. Juliet and Nashville have been inspired as well.
“Through multiple youth conferences these past few years since joining our ministerial team, Beth has touched hundreds of youth lives in Middle Tennessee,” said Dan Parker, who serves as pastor of Parkway Baptist. “I know she’s had a profound effect on the children here at her home church.”
“Instead of having a 10th birthday party and receiving gifts, Allie Meshotto (whose parents, Jennifer and Rodney, attend Parkway Baptist) wanted to have a sewing party, to make dresses for the homeless girls they had heard about living in Haiti,” Beth stitched back in time.
This was in preparation for Beth’s latest two-week trip in November 2011 to Haiti.
Attending Allie’s sewing party were Kinsey Bundrant, Baylee Dalton, Sarah Williams, Natalie Perkins, Emily Allen and Ashlin Murphy.
This thimble and needle session evolved into stitching parties throughout Parkway Baptist’s congregation.
“Upon hearing of our small children’s commitment to making dresses out of pillow cases for the little girls in Haiti, this led to high school students Breanna Haskins, Morgan Murphy and Ashlin Murphy getting together and making 20 dresses, as a surprise gift to me, leading up to our (latest) November trip to Haiti … I had no idea these dresses were coming.”
Making dresses out of pillow cases?
“It was an idea born through Parkway youth minister Joey Bland, who had witnessed other ministries making children’s clothing out of pillow cases…” Beth noted. “It profoundly touched me and the little children in my Parkway ministry that the teenagers had secretly united to make dresses for the Haiti children.”
Do these good things make good things happen?
“Lillian Hill (retired Rutherford County educator) got excited, and personally sewed 20 little dresses for us to take to Haiti,” Beth said. “And church member Ann Graubner, with the help of her grandchildren, stitched together another 20 dresses.”
The net result was more than 100 dresses being created at Parkway Baptist.
This resulted in Beth’s little girls staging a fashion show at Parkway while modeling the new dresses.
“During the fashion show, the girls also gave each other pedicures and we shared an old-time Baptist foot-washing service,” Beth added.
But hold on, for the spirit of serving others was spreading, to the point that church lay leader Harold Ferrell and granddaughter Harley Mosley felt led to journey to Haiti with Beth.
Ferrell and Harley spent a week in Haiti.
“It changed our lives, blessed us to see the joy on the faces of the small Haitian girls faces when they were shown the dresses,” said Ferrell, who serves as director of Sunday school department at Parkway. “Beth’s ministry also makes adults and children of our church see the bigger value of international ministering to starving and hungry children who have no hope without Christian love of service to others.”
But, what about the language difference in Haiti?
“Love is an international language,” Beth described. “We don’t speak Creole language, but we could tell by the smiles when a girl liked a dress we were holding up for her to model. When a face lit up, we knew that was the dress she wanted. It was the first time these children ever had ‘a selection’ of dresses to choose from.”
It was not the first time church members had taken clothing to Haiti children.
“On return trips, we noted the children were still wearing the clothing items we had taken to them the year before,” Beth noted. “For most, it was the only personal item of clothing they possessed, particularly after the devastating earth quake (Jan. 12, 2010) that left thousands of Haitian families homeless.
“If they had tents, they were blessed,” Beth said. “Our fourth mission trip to Haiti came in July 2010, about six months after the big earth quake.”
This trip involved strenuous, even painful work for the American mission workers.
“From where we were stationed, we’d walk a half-mile, load our 5-gallon buckets with rocks and debris, and tote them back to a pile of rubble, back over the half-mile distance…” Beth described. “We shoveled gravel and rubble caused by the big earth quake in order for the adults to have a level site to begin reconstructing a home.
“Our particular mission was to help clear a site for rebuilding a home for a homeless widow lady,” Beth recalled. “As it turned out, the lady died within the year, but she got to spend her last few months in her own home that we had a helping hand in building. There’s no greater joy than witnessing the joy on the faces of those less fortunate while we share the love of Christ with them.”
The young missionary said she’s praying about her future “service to God’s people in Haiti.”
“Through our church, and through ‘My Life Speaks’ ministry in Franklin, we’re organizing a trip in March back to Haiti, where My Life Speaks is constructing camp homes as part of an orphanage campus,” Beth said. “It costs in the neighborhood of $1,500 per mission worker per trip to and from Haiti. Persons wanting to know more about our next trip to Haiti, or help with donations, can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The Haiti mission experience changes lives, she said, both for the ministerial people and the children.
“When you do ministry in Haiti, you either love it or hate it,” Beth noted. “I love it, but it’s not for everyone.”
She said at her young age, she’s still praying about what her “ultimate ministry will be.”
“It could be in Haiti, sometime in the future,” Beth declared. “But for now, I still have work to do here in Smyrna. I wouldn’t change my life’s circumstances. I continually pray to God to lead me in service to his people.”