It’s Not Too Late…

 

School is back in session, summer is almost over, and Christmas is soon approaching.  Although only four months away, there is still time to participate in the Christmas Backpack Project for children affected by poverty.  17.3 million of the children living in the U.S. live in poverty, with almost 1 million of them in Kentucky.

For these children, Christmas does not always come with gifts, like it does for others.  For the past several years thousands of children in Kentucky have been receiving backpacks from Baptists in surrounding states filled with food, clothing, hygiene items, school supplies, toys, and a Bible or some Gospel witness.  To see the smiles on the children’s faces as they walk out with a backpack, many times almost as big as themselves, just warms the heart and helps you to experience the joy of giving.

In 2016 over 15,000 Kentucky children were blessed with these gifts and, this year, we want to invite Kentucky Baptists to be a part of this effort.  A goal of collecting 5,000 backpacks from Kentucky Baptist churches (the NAMB goal is 65,000) has been set.  One half of the backpacks collected in Kentucky will be distributed to children living in poverty in our state, with the other half going to need children in the Send Cincinnati area.

The Kentucky Baptist Convention is partnering with Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union and the North American Mission Board (Appalachian Regional Ministry and Mississippi River Ministry), in this effort.  Many churches, associations, WMU groups, Sunday School classes, and even individuals are already working diligently to pack their backpacks.  It was also the mission project for many Vacation Bible Schools this past summer.  We are excited to report that, to date, we have 107 registered participants, for a total of 3479 backpacks committed.

For information on how you can participate, how to pack a Christmas backpack, or to register your church’s participation go to www.kybaptist.org/backpacks.  Or, if you would like to have someone come and share with you about this project please contact email  [email protected].  Collection date is October 16-20 so please respond soon and join us in making a difference in a child’s life this Christmas and, very possibly, for eternity.

Kentucky Mission Tours

This past month I had the privilege of leading ten members of the Little Bethel Baptist Association in western Kentucky, on a two-day vision tour to eastern Kentucky.  We visited God’s Love from a Diaper Bag in Jenkins, a ministry directed by MSC Missionaries Lester and Bessie McPeek.

God’s Love from a Diaper Bag began approximately fourteen years ago when Lester and Bessie began handing out diapers to mothers who could not afford to purchase them for their babies.  From there the ministry has grown to also include all types of baby items, baby showers for expectant mothers, food and clothing for the entire family, home repairs, school and hygiene items, Vacation Bible School, Backyard Bible Clubs, a dental clinic, and all types of outreach.

From there we went to Marrowbone and a stop at the Freeda Harris Baptist Center.  MSC Missionaries Greg and Alice Whitetree have served at this ministry for over 30 years.  Greg and Alice planted themselves deep into this rural community and minister to families at their point of need.  While there we met a team from Glenrock Baptist Church in South Carolina that had come to serve with the Whitetrees.

After a nice dinner at Texas Roadhouse and a good night’s rest at the Holiday Inn Express in Pikeville, we were back on the road again the second day.  Our first stop was God’s Appalachian Partnership (GAP) in McDowell, where MSC Missionary John Morris shared about the history, the vision, and the ministry at GAP.  GAP, like all of the other ministries we visited, exists to meet the spiritual and physical needs of people in Appalachia.  In 2013 John Morris became the Executive Director of this ministry that began in 1999.  GAP’s outreach events include resource distribution, beanstalk, a community Easter Egg Hunt, Kidstock (a back to school event providing new shoes, socks, school supplies, and backpacks for students in Head Start through 12th grade), and a large Christmas outreach.

From GAP we traveled to Williamsburg, KY and Cedaridge Ministries, where we met MSC Missionaries Keith, Joyce, and Holly Decker.  Cedaridge also ministers to families in their area through food and clothing, baby items, hygiene items, home repairs, Backyard Bible Clubs, and many other ways.  They host large events that reach hundreds of people and are very intentional, as are the other three ministries, in sharing the gospel of Christ at each event.

Together these four ministries reported 188 professions of faith in Christ in 2016 and had 3811 volunteers assist with their ministries.

Little Bethel Association took this vision tour to learn about the ministries and how they might come alongside to help reach these areas for Christ.  They are prayerfully considering which ministry or ministries to partner with.

Perhaps your church, association, or even you personally would also like to explore opportunities to serve right here in Kentucky.  There are ministries and missionaries all across our state that would love to have you partner with them.  Let us help you get started by planning your mission tour.  To learn more, please contact us at [email protected]  We would love to help connect you.

 

A “Unique” Mission Opportunity

In far western Kentucky, located thirteen miles outside the city of Princeton, is a unique ministry that offers many opportunities to serve.  Bright Life Farms, Inc. is a residential facility, located on 27 acres, where currently 24 mentally or developmentally challenged adults, 18 years of age and older, live in a happy, protective and secure environment with 24-7 care.

Bright Life is an intermediate care facility and, while it is state licensed as a MR/DD facility, it is not state supported.  They are faith-based and, without their support base, could not do what they do.  “Bright Life is a visible testimony to God’s power to provide,” says volunteer administrator Roberta Robertson, and “we are dedicated to giving Him the honor for our three (soon to be four) homes.”  The residents can do a lot of things, just should never live alone.

This ministry is based on Ephesians 3:20-21 – “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory…for ever and ever! Amen!

As a faith-based facility, the goal at Bright Life is to provide care for the whole person – body and spirit – within an environment of love and safety, structure, training and enrichments with the goal of each individual living to the fullest.

And live to the fullest they do.  When visiting Bright Life, you soon notice how happy the residents are.  They love to have visitors and make you feel so welcome.  The residents love to participate in Bible study, VBS, crafts, games, fellowship, singing, and just interacting with guests that come.  The Bright Life Family has its own choir and, seldom do you get away without them sharing their gift of music with you.  Led and accompanied on piano by Roberta Robertson, the choir travels to many churches to present their program, which includes singing, quoting scripture, and sharing testimonies.  They have blessed and encouraged so many this past year as they presented their program 56 times.  Bright Life welcomes invitations to sing and share.  Roberta says, “We never realized that the residents could be such powerful witnesses for Jesus.”  When not traveling, the residents are active in three local churches.

An 8-member volunteer Board of Directors gives hours of service to this special ministry.  Kentucky MSC Missionary Leroy Oliver serves as the property and grounds chair, manages the facility, supplies, and all maintenance.  Leroy is a favorite of the residents, and is available to help coordinate mission teams that come to serve at Bright Life.

Bright Life loves to have visitors and welcomes mission teams.  Last year approximately 550 volunteers came to serve.  They can accommodate teams up to 20-25 and provide room and board free of charge.  The teams are, however, responsible for their own food.  In addition to ministering to the residents, there are needs for general maintenance, landscaping, painting, clean-up, etc. on all existing areas and buildings.

To learn more about Bright Life Farms go to their Facebook page (Bright Life Farms Inc) or the website at http://www.brightlifefarms.org/.  For information on needs at Bright Life Farm go to http://old.kybaptist.org/missionopportunities/brightlifefarms/.  Why not consider Bright Life Farms for your next mission trip.  No place will you be more of a blessing, and in turn be more blessed, than in serving at this ministry!!

Are You Called to Missions?

Ninety persons who heard the call to missions currently serve, not in another country, not in another state, but right here in Kentucky.  Most times when we think of someone being “called to missions” our thought is to some remote area in Africa, China, or to international missions.  God’s call however, may be in the U.S. or, many times, right in a person’s own home state.

Time and again we hear testimonies from Kentucky missionaries saying they thought God would call them to serve “overseas”, or at least in another state, when His call was to serve right at home, to reach the thousands in Kentucky who do not have a saving faith in Christ.

Kentucky missionaries, or Kentucky Mission Support Catalyst (KY-MSC) as they are called, serve in a wide range of positions, including food and clothing ministries, pregnancy care centers, equestrian ministries, jail and prison ministries, disaster relief, all types of outreach ministries, and ministries to all age groups.  The positions engage in or directly support missions, church planting, collegiate ministry, or evangelism, in cooperative partnership with a Kentucky Baptist Convention church, association, or organization.

To become a Kentucky missionary, candidates must be baptized Christ followers who are 18 years of age or older, be called by God, and be an active member of a local Kentucky Baptist Church.  They complete a KY-MSC application and commit to the KBC missionary conduct pledge.  The missionaries serve a minimum of 20 hours per week for the duration of their assignment, and commit to serve from 9 months to 3 years, which can be renewed.

Kentucky Mission Support Catalysts are self-funded.  Although a person can serve without becoming a Kentucky missionary, there are many advantages.  Two main advantages are prayer support, as people all over the state pray for them through interSEED (www.kybaptist.org/interseed), and networking with other missionaries.  The missionaries can be adopted by a church (http://www.kybaptist.org/adopt-a-missionary,1477), and they participate in orientation and a commissioning service.

Becoming a missionary opens the door for opportunities to share about their ministry and have teams come to serve with them in ministry.  The Kentucky Baptist Convention, as well as the Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union, helps to promote their ministries and share their stories, offers opportunities for the missionaries to speak and/or display at events, and offers an annual missionary retreat.  Grants are also available for the missionaries through both the KBC and KY WMU.

Perhaps you have felt a call to local missions and would like to learn more about KY-MSC.  Or, you may already be serving 20 hours in a ministry and would like to apply to serve as a Kentucky missionary.  Please click on the following link for more information and to download the application – http://www.kybaptist.org/kentucky-mission-support-catalyst,1635.   Or, feel free to contact us.  We would love to help you discover where God may be leading you to serve.

It’s Horse Time in Kentucky

In just 11 days all eyes will be on Kentucky for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby, commonly known as the greatest two minutes in sports.

Over 160,000 will make their way to the Bluegrass for this event.  Parties, celebrities, hats, mint juleps, betting, the playing of “My Old Kentucky Home,” the race itself, the garland of roses, and the trophy presentation in the winner’s circle are all a part of this first leg of the Triple Crown.  Much excitement is in the air.

Kentucky is horse country for sure.  And, while people come from all around the world and spends thousands and thousands of dollars on this one weekend, out across our state there are many lesser known horses and lesser known owners that are making a difference in lives far beyond what the Derby brings.  In equestrian ministries throughout Kentucky boys, girls, men, and women hear the Gospel message and their lives are changed forever.

Missionary Chris Clarke, from Nortonville (Hopkins County), directs Happy Trails Ministry where he leads worship services at horse shows.  Chris shares (many times on horseback) about Five Building Blocks of Faith (Believe, Faith, Trust, Obedience, Surrender) and uses the horse to demonstrate each building block.  Chris also plays guitar and leads music, each service ending with the singing of “Happy Trails to You.”  In addition to the horse shows, Chris pastors Kentucky Lake Cowboy Church in Marshall County, KY.  Chris has shared about people who have come to know the Lord through these services.

In Letcher County, The Stables at Creekside Glen, directed by Drew & Leah Baldwin, is a ministry that uses horses as the platform to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This ministry hosts week-long camps, individual riding lessons, trail rides, carriage rides, and have teamed up with a local elementary school to help students with autism how to care for and ride horses.  For more information on The Stables at Creekside Glen, go to http://meridzo.com/stables-at-creekside-2/.

Russell Creek & Lynn Baptist Association Director of Missions Wilburn Bonta and Missionaries Charlie & Roma Simmons have lead worship services at trail rides and local horse shows, and at Land Between the Lakes’ Wrangler Camps for years.

And, in Annville, KY (Jackson County) Missionaries Mitch & Christie Schumacher direct High Mountain Horsemanship Outreach, a ministry that exists to inspire hope and growth by connecting horses, people, and God through the therapeutic equine programs, lessons, and events.  Everything they do is about pointing people a life changing faith in Jesus.  For more information about this ministry go to http://thehighmountain.com/.

Both High Mountain Horsemanship and The Stables at Creekside Glen have opportunities for volunteers to serve with them.  If you love horses why not consider a mission trip to one of these ministries.  To check out ways you can serve, go to their websites or check out the following links:

A few days serving in one of these ministries will be much more rewarding than a two-minute horse race.

Meet Our New 2017 Kentucky Missionaries

Spring has officially arrived, which means it is time for our annual missionary orientation and commissioning of the new missionaries serving in Kentucky.  The orientation is a time for the missionaries to learn about the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the Cooperative Program, and many resources and support available to them.  This time of networking with each other is most valuable.

Eight men and women that have sensed God’s call to serve in ministries across our state will be commissioned at the Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union Missions Celebration on Saturday morning, April 1st, at Central Baptist Church in Corbin.

Those new missionaries are:

  • Damon & Yolonda Armstead, Executive Director and Director of Weekday Ministries at the Baptist Fellowship Center in Louisville.
  • Cory Bledsoe, Executive Director of Louisville Rescue Mission.
  • Joanna Mack, Executive Director of Grace & Mercy in Hopkinsville.
  • Renee Parsons, Director of Hope Central, a ministry of Central Baptist Church in Ashland.
  • Teresa Purichia, Interim Executive Director of Crossroads Life Center, a pregnancy care center in Glasgow.
  • Twyla Sheffield, KBC Northern Region Missions Mobilization Consultant.
  • Kendra Smallwood, Director of “A Chosen Sisterhood” women’s ministry of Rockhouse Baptist Church in Hyden.

This year’s WMU Celebration will also feature an Eastern Kentucky Missions Extravaganza that you will not want to miss.  During the Extravaganza participants will have an opportunity to visit and interact with many of the eastern Kentucky missionaries for a “hands-on” experience of the work they do.

By all means, we would like to extend a special invitation for you to join us for this year’s KY WMU Celebration and commissioning service, and pledge your support to these new missionaries.

The 2017 Kentucky Missionary of the Year will also be announced.

For more information on the Kentucky WMU Missions Celebration go to http://kywmu.org/annualmeeting.

Hope to see you there.

Construction Teams Needed

Construction

There are many ways to be on mission in Kentucky.  Opportunities are available to serve through Vacation Bible Schools, Backyard Bible Clubs, block parties, work in food and clothing ministries, prayer walking, sports camps, door-to-door evangelism, serve in free medical and dental clinics, equestrian ministry, prison ministry, racetrack and resort ministry, and outreach with all ages from preschoolers to senior adults, just to name a few.  Appalachian Regional Ministry has a brochure that shows 102+ ways to serve in missions.

One great way to serve is through construction.  Many times a person feels he or she cannot participate in missions because they are not good at teaching, preaching, or sharing their faith.  I recall a story told about a man who came up to a missionary following the missionary’s sharing about ways to serve.  The man had tears in his eyes and said that before that time he did not think he could do missions.  That night he came to realize that he could use his skill of painting in ministry.

Lots of projects are posted on the Kentucky Baptist Convention website and construction teams are needed across the state.  Teams are needed for church repairs and/or renovations, new church construction, home repairs, and work on associational and ministry buildings.  There are opportunities for those with skills in carpentry, painting, electrical, plumbing, laying tile, putting up handicap ramps, and the needs just go on and on.  These “support” type roles are important so that the churches, associations, and ministries can do their job of reaching people with the gospel.

Many of these projects can be done in one or two days and many are in areas near where you live.  Others may be week-long projects or projects that one team can follow another until the work is complete.

If you have skills in construction consider using them in service for our Lord.  Go to the Kentucky Baptist Convention website (http://old.kybaptist.org/mission-opportunities/project-type/construction-maintenance/) to see opportunities available.  The projects have now been updated for 2017 and are just waiting for teams to respond.

For more information contact us at [email protected].  We will be happy to help connect you to a construction opportunity in 2017.

Much to be Done in the New Year

 

2017

Welcome 2017. The year 2016 is now history. This past year ended with lots of church and ministry outreach events. Hot meals were served. Warm blankets, coats, scarfs, and gloves were given out for the upcoming cold winter months. Christmas was made brighter for many children as they received a special toy. Thanks to Appalachian Regional Ministry’s Christmas Backpack Program thousands of children also received a backpack filled with school supplies, hygiene items, clothing, candy, toys, and a Bible. The Gospel message was presented.

As reports come in we are hearing of hundreds that invited Christ into their lives during these events and received the greatest Gift during this season of gift-giving. But, where are they in January 2017?

We must not stop by simply presenting the Gospel message and decisions being made. There is much work to do as we now help them to grow in their new-found relationship with Christ. We must invite them into our churches and walk alongside to disciple and mentor them. We must not leave them as babes in Christ.

This past Sunday a lady and her daughter visited our church as a result of a Christmas outreach event. She wanted to start the new year in church and really seemed to enjoy the service and fellowship. The young daughter was excited to learn of a Sunday School class and Children’s Church that she could be a part of. I too am excited for the mom to join my Sunday School class as each week we learn, grow, and fellowship together.

May 2017 be a year when those lives that we impacted in 2016 come to a saving relationship with Christ, and those who do know Him as Savior draw nearer in their walk with Him and their service to Him. May our Christmas outreach events not be in vain.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Christmas Memories

gifts-of-christmas

I love Christmas.  As the song says, it is truly “the most wonderful time of the year.”  There is just a special spirit at this season that in unlike any other.  The sights and sounds of Christmas seem to bring out the child in all of us.

Our trees are put up, nativity and carolers in place, advent candles on the table, and Christmas music playing.   Christmas parades, complete with marching bands and Santa Claus, are in almost every town.  There are Christmas parties and church programs to attend, Christmas cards, shopping, and gifts wrapped in pretty paper and bows.

Christmas to me is family.  It was always a special time at our house as we planned our family gathering, the food we would eat, baking and candy making, giving and receiving gifts, and just being together.

One of the most memorable gifts I received as a young toddler was a baby doll.  I do not remember the doll as much as the homemade cradle that my dad made, and the quilt and pillow that my mother made for my doll.  These were special gifts because of the extra love my parents had for me as they “made” these gifts.

Another memorable gift was the bicycle I received from an older sister when I was six years old.  It was my first year of school and her first year to teach school.  This was a gift that I enjoyed for many, many years.

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the music.  I recall Christmas band concerts and parades, and the church Christmas programs that I was a part of.  As a college student at Eastern Kentucky University I looked so forward each year to attending the performance of the “Messiah.”

And the memories go on and on.  We all have our Christmas memories and traditions.  But, with everything we do, let’s never forget that we have Christmas because of Jesus.  I never remember a Christmas in our house that the true meaning of Christmas was not at the forefront.

With all we do this Christmas let’s be sure to include Him in our celebrations.  Include Him in our decorations, in the cards we send, and in the music we sing. Let’s include Him in our greetings to people as we smile and say “Merry Christmas.”

Christmas is a time when more people seem to be open to hearing the true story of Christmas, so let us be ready to share that message.  It may just cause someone to receive the special Gift of Christmas.

It’s All Worth It

KY InAsMuch Logo

This past summer the Lord laid on the hearts of a couple of ladies at Pine Hill Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon, KY to have a free clothing give away. They shared this idea with others in the congregation and plans were soon being made for their first ever Operation InAsMuch Day, a one-day blitz by the church in the community.

For months, they gathered and sorted clothing. Adults, children, and youth all pitched in to help. Although it was hard work, and took lots of hours, it was a great time as they worked together to prepare for this project. Many times they stopped to “model” some of the clothing and found a few pieces to set aside for ourselves.

Everything pic-1was ready to go. On Saturday, October 15th, the big day came. The clothing was sorted, the workers were in place, and the doors set to open at 10:00 AM at this small, rural, 60-member church. They had never done anything like this before and did not really know what to expect. The church is five miles out of town. The event had been advertised in the local newspaper, on the radio, and at the 5 county schools, but they could not help but wonder if anyone would show up.

But, were they ever in for a surprise! At 8:50 AM the first cars began rolling in to the parking lot and, from that point on, they kept coming, and coming, and coming, until 1:00 PM, when the event was scheduled to end. An estimated 250 people showed up for this free clothing give-away. People came from all across the county, and from 4 adjoining counties.
People were “shopping,” men of the church were grilling hot dogs, and ladies were in the kitchen preparing chips, drinks, and cookies. Other church members were mingling with the crowd, talking to people, making them feel welcome, inviting them back to church, and witnessing where the opportunity presented itself.

The church was blown away by the response. But, the “guests” were blown away as well. Many of them wanted to pay for the hot dogs and commented that they had never been to a place where everything was free.

Nobody seemed to be in any big hurry. The folks “shopped,” ate, and some just sat around visiting and enjoying the day.

The “guests” were invited to register for a couple of grocery gift cards. On the registration cards 11 people indicated they would be interested in a call or visit from the church. Three persons have already visited the church as a result of the clothing give-away and the church is still following up with others.

Nineteen members of the church showed up on the day of the event to work, but a total of 40, ranging in age from four to eighty-two, had actually helped in some way. One member said, “I’m not sure who received the bigger blessing from the event, our community or our church members who absolutely loved seeing our hard work pay off.” Another lady said, “To me it was a very humbling experience. Most of all, what got me was when several asked when would we be doing another one.” One of the most interesting comments came from a teenager that had worked so hard. He simply said, “It’s all worth it.”

And, yes, plans are being made for a similar event in the Spring of 2017.