JACKSONVILLE (FBW)—Troy Dixon, pastor of Normandy Park Baptist Church, honed his barbecuing skills over a lifetime with the help of his grandfather. He and his family have now made the family tradition turn a profit to help finance their summer mission adventures.
“It really started as a fluke. We’d notice people on the side of the road selling barbecued meat for a lot more than they bought it for. So I thought I could do something like that,” Dixon said.
He hopes the profits from his backyard barbecue venture will provide funds for four members of his family to participate in the church’s annual mission trip to Nicaragua. Dixon, his wife, Susan, and teenaged sons Jonathan and Joshua will travel to Central America in late June. Six-year-old Gracie will stay at home with grandparents, he said.
Normandy Park Baptist, with 120 attending on Sunday, sends 15-20 each summer to minister in Nicaragua with Word of Life, a youth discipling ministry. They lead Bible clubs and day camps, speak in local schools, and witness in the communities of Managua.
“We are a small church, but we work very hard to get the Gospel out to the world,” he said.
Three years ago the church sent 17 volunteers, a number that taxed their hosts’ transportation options. Team leaders decided to limit the team to 12 the next year, but “we took 18,” he said.
The Normandy Park Baptist mission volunteers arrive in Managua as the week-long mission of Faith Field Baseball Team of Jacksonville ends. The Christian baseball team leads sports clinics, and plays local teams. Team Chaplain Mike Ragland is
Normandy Park Baptist’s associate pastor, and he stays in Managua two weeks.
Dec. 2 was commitment day for mission volunteers at Normandy Park Baptist, and team leaders are now making plans for the team that includes youth through senior adults. Each volunteer is responsible for traveling costs of about $850.
Multiply that by four for the Dixon Family.
Dixon tested his new fund-raising venture by advertising ribs on Facebook and Twitter, and talking it up at church and among family, he said. Orders poured in.
His reputation as an outdoor chef preceded him. He said he relishes spending time at home on Saturday afternoons barbecuing for his family.
“I try to be near home by 2 o’clock. It’s a good time to get my mind on my sermon and to get my heart ready for Sunday,” he said.
Dixon, who has served Normandy Park Baptist since 2008, was also a member of a barbecue team from Normandy Park Baptist that won over 25 other teams in the “backyard level” of the annual Great American Tailgate Cook-Off at Amelia Island a few years ago.
Dixon’s first weekend of smoking ribs was Nov. 9-10. With the assistance of 13-year-old Jonathan, he smoked 43 slabs of ribs on his 55-gallon smoker. He smoked 13 slabs simultaneously, rotating them often since his smoker, with a firebox at the end, heats more on the ends, he said. He cooked each load of ribs four hours and scheduled two loads a day over two days. He will devote two more weekends—in February and in late spring—to cooking ribs, he said.
In an effort to offset costs for mission volunteers, the church sponsors a Corkball Tournament each spring. The sport, created in Jacksonville, was very popular 50 years ago, Dixon said. Players try to hit a corkball—a fishing cork wrapped in tape—with a broom handle. Players pay an entry fee and tournament sponsorships are sold.
“We sell barbecue dinners, too,” he said with a chuckle.
Dixon said the church usually gives about $1,500 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. He wants to build that amount and also the Annie Armstrong offering by asking church members to tithe 11 percent instead of ten. The extra one percent would boost mission giving.
“Missions is the heart of our church,” he said.
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