Wilton Baptist Church spreads hope to the Mississippi Delta

In about two months, 23-year-old Lane Riley is going to Mississippi to be the first program director of Wilton Baptist Church’s Delta Hands for Hope organization.

The nonprofit organization works to strengthen and enhance the education, development, health and recreation of children in the Mississippi Delta and surrounding areas, Ms. Riley said last week.

“I will be working in Shaw, Miss. Shaw is a small town located in Bolivar and Sunflower counties in the Mississippi Delta,” said Ms. Riley, a Ridgefield resident and two-year member of Wilton Baptist Church. “Both of these counties are of the poorest in the United States.”

While looking into international mission opportunities, Ms. Riley said she heard about the opportunity in the Mississippi Delta.

“I thought and prayed about how I could help and work with people in the United States, and this position in Mississippi was exactly what I wanted to do,” she said.

Ms. Riley said she was officially offered the program director position in February.

“I am starting June 1, and I plan to be there a while," she said.

Once she arrives in Mississippi, Ms. Riley said she will start building relationships with people in Shaw and explaining Delta Hands for Hope to people, churches and organizations, and finding a way to partner with them.

“The main focus will be working for school-aged children in a holistic approach,” she said.

Some examples include:

  • Planning mission trips for churches to come and work with the people in Shaw;
  • Working with the USDA;
  • Finding resources in surrounding areas;
  • Working with existing programs and organizations to more efficiently use resources;
  • Helping in a tutoring center;
  • Working with different churches with Vacation Bible School.

While she doesn’t expect her job to be easy, Ms. Riley said it will be worth it.

“It will be a lot of work, but I have a great board of directors and support team in Shaw,” she said. “I have heard that the people in Shaw are very welcoming and hospitable, and I am excited to start working with them.”

Ms. Riley said she hopes to help empower the Shaw community to develop new programming and expand existing programs.

“We will be working with many different people, organizations, churches and schools to promote programming and activities for the children and families in Shaw,” said Ms. Riley. “I expect this job to be challenging, but that will make it even more rewarding.”

Special service

On Sunday, March 30, Wilton Baptist Church will have a special service to commission Ms. Riley.

Ms. Riley said the 11 a.m. service will be an opportunity to tell the congregation what she will be doing.

“The board members and a few other people I know or will work with have written letters that will be read,” said Ms. Riley. “It will also emphasize that Wilton Baptist will be commissioning with me.”

Ms. Riley said the church will be working alongside her “in whatever capacity they feel called to do.”

“Whether it’s giving financially, praying for me and the Delta Hands for Hope, or participating in a mission trip in Mississippi,” she explained.

Ms. Riley said she is looking forward to sharing her experiences with the Wilton Baptist congregation.

“This will be a life-long relationship between Wilton Baptist Church and Delta Hands for Hope,” said Ms. Riley. “I’m excited to see how this relationship forms and expands.”