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By Shavonne Potts
Salisbury Post
Imagine leaving the job and people you’ve known for 12 years and moving to another country. Undoubtedly such a decision would be hard, but for Rowan County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Flowers, it’s a decision he’s willing to make.
Flowers, the school resource officer for Southeast Middle School, is leaving in less than two weeks to do mission work in South Africa.
Flowers, of China Grove, has worked for the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office for 12 years. During that time, he began working in the detention center, then as a court bailiff and a patrol officer.
He’s been the resource officer at Southeast for three years.
Although he loves his job, Flowers said his heart is in South Africa.
“I love Africa so much. Sometimes I feel more at peace there. People are different (there). It’s also a slower pace of life,” he said.
Obviously, this is not his first trip to Africa or his first step into missionary work.
In 1996, Flowers went on a short-term mission trip to Kenya. While there he worked in several ministries, including evangelism, teaching and singing. Two years later, Flowers went to South Africa on a mission trip where he worked with the Baptist Youth of Southern Africa.
It was on this journey that Flowers realized God was calling him to do mission work.
He returned to South Africa in 1999 to help Baptist Youth of Southern Africa as a youth ministry team facilitator. He worked in rural areas in southern Africa until November 2000.
Flowers said of that job, “it was a gateway to coming home. It helped prepare me for this job” as a school resource officer.
The deputy found the people of Africa are hospitable, inviting missionaries into their homes.
“Even in the bush country of Mozambique, people invited us into their homes,” he said.
Although Flowers loves life in Africa, he is torn about leaving his family and “a lot of good friends here.”
Family members are very supportive of his decision but hate that he’ll be more than 8,000 miles away.
The officer isn’t married, so it makes travel easier, he said.
On his upcoming mission, Flowers will live in South Africa for at least two years and return home to the United States at least once or twice. After the two years are complete, he’ll decide to either stay in South Africa or return home.
Flowers will work as a volunteer team coordinator, overseeing all of the volunteer projects at the Sophumelela Clinic in East London, South Africa.
“I always said I’d love to be a mission coordinator for a church, and that’s essentially what I’m doing,” he said.
The Sophumelela Clinic is run by First City Baptist Church in East London. It stemmed from the church’s decision in 2000 to become involved in the AIDS pandemic. Four years later, the Sophumelela Clinic opened its doors. The clinic has about 2,000 patients and works in conjunction with a day-care facility serving children infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
According to the clinic Web site, Sophumelela means, “We will succeed.”
Flowers found his niche in missions growing up in a household where his parents frequently had preachers and missionaries over for Sunday meals. The family also supported the mission ministry with donations from their clothing store.
“I saw the love my parents had for it,” he said.
While Flowers was still in high school, his father offered to pay for his son to participate in a mission trip. He still regrets not accepting his father’s offer.
“Growing up, I thought of missionaries as preachers, teachers, nurses and doctors,” he said.
As an American missionary, Flowers said he offers a different perspective on foreign missionary work.
“Being an American, I can understand a little more” what volunteers will expect and how they will react, he said. As a coordinator, “I can understand the African culture and what Americans are expecting.”
He sent out many support letters to individuals and churches. Before school ended this week, students at Southeast Middle surprised Flowers with their own donation. The school set out to raise $1,000.
“It surprised me, but it didn’t because they’ve done a lot for March of Dimes and Relay for Life,” he said.
Knowing the students’ giving spirit didn’t reduce his shock and the emotions that overcame him when he received a check during a school program to cover part of his expenses.
Flowers said he feels as though he must have made some impact if the students would be so giving.
“The kids are excited to see me go. A lot of them hugged my neck, saying they’ll miss me but will pray for me,” he said.
The part of his job that he’ll miss is the best part ó “that I can positively impact 750 kids each day.”
One student gave Flowers 17 cents from his pocket, saying it was all he had at the time, but he wanted to give it away.
It will take about $2,000 a month to support him while he’s in Africa for two years. While he’s thankful for the support he’s already received, Flowers isn’t worried about the amount he still has to raise.
“I know God will provide,” he said.
Flowers will leave his students when school is complete for the year. He’ll leave the Sheriff’s Office June 19, and the next day he’ll be on a plane for South Africa.
The last few weeks have been hectic for him in the midst of packing, having a last meal with friends and family and continuing to raise support money.
Even when Flowers gets to Africa, donations can still be sent to support the ministry. Checks can be made out to N.C. Baptist Men and designated for First City Project. Checks can be mailed to N.C. Baptist Men, P.O. Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512.
You can write to Flowers c/o Sophumelela Clinic, P.O. Box 11126, Southernwood, 5213, East London, South Africa.
For more information on the fight against aids in Africa, go to www.fightingaidsinafrica.co.za
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Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253 or spotts@salisburypost.com.

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