Will Your Church Commit to Pack Christmas Backpacks for Kentucky Children?

Recently I spent a few days in the Smokies.  While there, my sister and I visited a couple of Christmas shops.  There was Christmas music playing and we saw all types of neat decorations and gifts.  My favorite decoration is the nativity, and they had some neat ones.  I sang along with the Christmas carols and, for a few minutes, found myself in the Christmas spirit, even in June.

With bright, sunny skies, and a current temperature of 90⁰, it’s hard to think about Christmas, but someone reminded me on Facebook last week that Christmas is only six months away.  My reply was, “Is your Christmas shopping half done?”

The KBC Missions Mobilization Team has been preparing for the Christmas Backpack Initiative for a couple of months now.  Applications requesting backpacks are coming in from ministries across the state and a few churches have already committed to fill backpacks.  We are asking Kentucky churches to commit to pack 10,000 backpacks to meet these needs.  While we will receive requests for far more than that, we are thankful for partnering states that also bring backpacks to help meet our needs.

Statistics show that one in four of Kentucky’s children live in poverty. So, for each of these children, a backpack from Kentucky Baptists may be all they will get for Christmas!  Would you or your church commit to filling one, five, fifty, or perhaps a hundred or more, backpacks?  It is not too early to get started.  Remember, Christmas is only six months away.

Instructions for filling the backpacks can be found at www.kybaptist.org/backpacks.  Once there, you can download a promotional bulletin insert and poster.   Also, check out our new “Christmas Story” leaflet.  And, don’t forget to register to your backpacks.    

This year the North American Mission Board is offering churches up to 72 free backpacks which can be ordered and used for ministry.  Additional ones can be purchased for only $3.00 each.  To take advantage of this offer, go to www.sendrelief/backpacks and order yours today.

Let’s exceed the goal of collecting 10,000 backpacks from Kentucky Baptist churches! Many of the backpacks collected will be distributed directly to children living in poverty in Kentucky, while others will go to needy children in our partner SEND City, Cincinnati.

Thank you for helping a child this Christmas.  To learn more, contact the Missions Mobilization Team at 502-489-3403 or email [email protected] 

“Let’s not neglect to do good and share what we have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:16

Crossroads Baptist Church Helping to Restart Nada Mission

Just off the Mountain Parkway, on the Wolfe-Morgan County line, sits Crossroads Baptist Church, a little white church in the quaint community of Helechawa, KY.  The building that once housed the community school was given to the church as a place of worship.  In 2007 Crossroads was started as a mission of Faith Baptist Church Cannel City with 6 members.  It soon grew to 17 or 18 members.

Mission teams from Pellville Baptist Church in Hawesville, White Hall Baptist Church in Richmond, Mt. Washington Baptist Church, Little Flock Baptist Church in Shepherdsville, Shively Baptist Church in Louisville, and perhaps others, came alongside Crossroads to fix up their building and help with outreach.  For several years Shively Baptist Church also came to lead Vacation Bible School.  I recall the day someone from the church called to ask for help in planning their own VBS.  Although they had made many good friends and appreciated the work of the mission teams, they were eager to conduct a VBS themselves, without depending on outside help.

During the November 2013 Kentucky Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, Crossroads moved from “mission” to “church” status.  Red River Baptist Association Mission Strategist George Drake shared that West Liberty Baptist Church had been the mother church of Faith Baptist Church in the early 1980s, Faith Baptist Church was the mother church of Grace Baptist Church in the mid-1990s and Crossroads Baptist Church in 2007, and Grace Baptist Church was the mother church of Wrigley Baptist in 2005.  In the Fall of 2013 I visited, and wrote a blog about, Crossroads Baptist Church.  The blog ended with, “Perhaps sometime in the future we will hear that Crossroads has also birthed a church.” 

While that has not actually happened, I recently learned from Red River Baptist Association Mission Strategist George Drake that Crossroads has moved their Sunday evening services to the Nada Baptist Mission, about 30 miles away.  Since hearing that the Nada Mission had closed and the church building given to the Red River Baptist Association, Crossroads Pastor Mark Risner has had such a burden for the church and the Nada community, and desires to see the Mission revived or replanted.

Crossroad’s members have painted and cleaned up around the Nada Mission, have gone door-to-door inviting the community to their services, and are planning a Vacation Bible School for the later part of June 2021.  Other churches in the area, as well as a mission team from Western Kentucky, have also come alongside to help with the Nada Mission.  Volunteers have helped with the physical labor, while others have donated funds to help pay bills. 

Before COVID Crossroads was averaging 45-50 in attendance.  This little church, in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, is excited to be on-mission.  Please pray with them about the future of the Nada Mission, for the families in the community, and that God will send a pastor to this church.  I can’t wait to see how my blog will read in another 8 years.

Churches helping churches, churches planting churches, churches reopening churches with closed doors – this is the cooperative Kentucky Baptist Convention way…and, might I add, God’s way of spreading the Gospel, from person to person, community to community.

Introducing the 2021 Kentucky Missionary of the Year

Cory Bledsoe, Executive Director of Re:Center Ministries in Louisville has been chosen as the 2021 Kentucky Missionary of the Year. 

This award is given annually to a missionary that demonstrates:

  • Commitment to and effectiveness in evangelism, church planting, or ministry.
  • Demonstration of “going the second mile”.
  • Outstanding performance in achieving assigned tasks.
  • Tenure.
  • Unusual commitment to our Lord’s service.
  • Positive representation of Kentucky Baptist Convention.
  • True reflection of being an “On Mission Christian”.

Founded in 1881, Re:Center Ministries (formerly Louisville Rescue Mission) reconciles homeless and hurting people to God, family, and community by the power of Christ in partnership with the local church.  Programs span a continuum of care—from prevention to relief to recovery – and provide holistic, high-impact answers to the problem of homelessness in their communities. 

They offer an emergency day shelter for women and children, LifeChange Stability which provides men an emergency place to stay, a three-month recovery program for men who are homeless, and a twelve-month transition ministry for men who have jobs and are transitioning to leave Re:Center. 

As the Executive Director, Cory provides day to day leadership, and management of the facility.  

He is a proven leader and has escorted Re:Center ministries through major change that has included rebranding, a fresh vision, strategy development, expansion of the ministry into southern Indiana, and a thrift store.  Cory has also strengthened the partnership of Re:Center with local churches who help to reconcile the hurting to Christ. 

Cory understands homelessness and the hopelessness that accompanies it.  He believes that if the spiritual void is not met with the gospel of Christ, any assistance provided is only a temporary band-aid. 

He is actively involved in his local church, is married to Sarah and they have 3 children.

Eric Allen, Missions Mobilization Team Leader with the Kentucky Baptist Convention says, “When I think about the many lives that have been transformed through Re:Center, I recall Brandon who was addicted and homeless.  After trusting in Christ and going through the program, Brandon was called to ministry and went on to attend Bible college.  That’s life change!”

CONGRATULATIONS to Cory Bledsoe, the 2021 Kentucky Missionary of the year.  He is most deserving. 

To learn more about Cory’s ministry at Re:Center go to https://recenterministries.org/.

Consider adopting Cory through the KBC Adopt-a-Missionary program.  For more information go to www.kybaptist.org/adoptmissionary

Meet Our New 2021 Kentucky Missionaries


Sixteen men and women have sensed God’s call to serve in ministries across our state and will be commissioned during a very inspirational service on Friday, April 16th, during the evening session of the Kentucky Woman’s Missionary Union Annual Meeting & Celebration at Shelbyville First Baptist Church.  With last year’s WMU Meeting being canceled due to COVID, we will be recognizing new missionaries for the past two years. 

 These new missionaries are:

  • Mollie Bentley, Director of Rockhouse Baptist Church Mission Center in Hyden.
  • Shawn & Carla Estes, Directors of Fortify Ministries (serving internationals & displaced people) in Glasgow.
  • Audra Hatfield, Directing a community outreach (serving internationals & others) through Faith Baptist Church in Frankfort. 
  • Sheila Hourigan, Executive Director of House of Hope Pregnancy & Family Resource Center in Springfield.
  • Linda McDonald, serving with Impact Ministries in Hopkinsville.
  • Susan McIntosh, serving with Impact Ministries in Hopkinsville.
  • Christian & Katie McKenzie, Directors of Hillcrest Baptist Camp in Cave-in-Rock, IL.
  • Stephanie Mayes, serving with Crossroads Community Baptist Church in Whitley City.
  • Joyce Morris, Missions & Ministry Associate at God’s Appalachian Partnership in McDowell,
  • Tanya Parker, Missions & Ministry Associate at God’s Appalachian Partnership in McDowell.
  • Denise Richards, serving with Impact Ministries in Hopkinsville.
  • Brenda Sparks, serving with Cedaridge Ministries in Williamsburg.
  • Alex Tenenbaum, Director of Community Engagement with Forest Baptist Church in Louisville.
  • Jonas Yoder, Benevolence Director & Re-entry Coordinator with Hell is Real Ministries in Princeton.

Prior to the commissioning these missionaries will spend the day in orientation where they will learn about the Kentucky Baptist Convention, the Cooperative Program, Eliza Broadus State Missions and will be given many resources that will be beneficial to them as they serve.  The time of networking with each other will also be most valuable. 

You can partner with these and/or one of our current 111 Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionaries by:

For more information please contact the KBC Missions Mobilization office at [email protected]

We hope to see you at Shelbyville First Baptist Church on April 16th.  Go to www.kywmu.org and register for either in-person or online.

Could God Be Calling You to Serve Long-Term?

God continues to call men and women to serve in long-term ministry positions in Kentucky.  This past year we have seen five new Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionaries approved, six others awaiting approval and three or four others that are sensing God’s call to serve.

Currently one hundred eight men and women serve in various positions in Kentucky, from food & clothing ministry, women & children’s ministries, prison ministries, and much, much more.

Have you ever considered that He may be calling you?  Many times we think a missionary call means to serve in another country or another state, somewhere far, far away.  And, while that might be the case, He may be calling you to serve right here in Kentucky, perhaps right in your own county or community.

We have seven open requests for long-term, self-funded missionaries.  Seven of those are in Kentucky, one in Georgia, and one in Kenya.  Please pray with us that these positions would be filled.  And, ask God if He might be leading you to fill one of the positions.

Positions include the following.  Please click on each link for more detail.

  1. AIC Mukeu School for the Mentally Challenged – Lari Sub-County, Kiambu County, Kenya
    1. Need volunteers to serve in a school for special needs children.  (NOTE: This request is for 2022.)
    1. https://www.kybaptist.org/stories/aic-mukeu-school-for-the-mentally-challenged,3533?
  2. Allen Baptist Church – Allen, KY
    1. Looking for a student ministries missionary or missionary couple.
    1. https://www.kybaptist.org/stories/allen-baptist-church,3649?
  3. Crossings at Cedarmore – Bagdad, KY
    1. Need volunteers to help in various positions at the camp.
    1. https://www.kybaptist.org/stories/crossings-at-cedarmore,4122?
  4. Crossroads Community Baptist Church – Stearns, KY
    1. Looking for ministry partners.
    1. https://www.kybaptist.org/stories/crossroads-community-baptist-church-missionary-need,3154?
  5. Divine Grace Church & Ministries – Atlanta, GA
    1. Looking for ministry partners to help with a church plant.
    1. https://www.kybaptist.org/stories/divine-grace-church-ministries,3659?
  6. Freedom Center Ministries Assistant Directors – Cumberland, KY
    1. Married couple needed to serve alongside directors.
    1. https://www.kybaptist.org/stories/freedom-center-ministries-assistant-directors,3146?
  7. Laurel Lake Baptist Camp – Corbin, KY
    1. Summer missionaries needed to help with the camp.
    1. https://www.kybaptist.org/stories/laurel-lake-baptist-camp,3139?
  8. New Bethel Baptist Church – Eddyville, KY
    1. Couple needed to serve as church strengtheners.
    1. https://www.kybaptist.org/stories/new-bethel-baptist-church,3127?
  9. Emergency Christian Ministries – Williamsburg, KY
    1. Couple needed to serve in homeless shelter. 
    1. https://www.kybaptist.org/stories/emergency-christian-ministries,4291?

Please pray with us for individuals and/or couples to fill these positions.  If you sense God calling you to one of these positions, please email [email protected] for more information and how to get connected.

Would you commit to care for and support a KY-MSC Missionary?

Do you want an exciting and meaningful boost for your church in 2021?  Would you like for your church or small group to be more involved in missions in the new year?  Do you want to get to know a “real live” missionary?  Then check out Kentucky’s “Adopt-a-Missionary” program. 

Currently 107 Mission Service Corps missionaries serve in Kentucky and are looking for churches, WMU groups or other small groups to “adopt” them.  Missionaries are not orphans, but adoption is a beautiful word that helps describe the strong relationship between missionaries and the churches and friends who pray and encourage them in their ministries.  The church at Antioch, in a sense, adopted Paul and Barnabas as special messengers of the gospel to Asia and Europe (Acts 13:1-3). 

These adoptions mean so much.  KY-MSC Missionaries Dean & Melissa Branscum have been adopted by Freedom Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon.  Melissa said, “They have brought donations for our clothing ministry, and have sent encouraging cards and gift cards.  It is a blessing to us.  It is wonderful to be adopted.”  Teresa Vanzant and few other ladies from Freedom Baptist Church met Dean & Melissa at the Kentucky WMU Annual Meeting when the Branscums were commissioned.  “We just knew in our hearts we had a connection with them,” she said.

Jill Boddy, with HR Ministries in Princeton, says just knowing that prayers are going up for her is all she needs.  “People that I don’t even know, and that don’t know me, are praying for me.”  Jill was invited to share about her ministry to the Coffee Talk group from Lexington, led by Marilyn Creighton, the group that has adopted her.   

KY-MSC Missionary Dottie Gebhart, with Mission Hope for Kids in Elizabethtown, said it was nice to get a card every now and then to let you know that someone is thinking of you.  Dottie and her husband Chuck have been adopted by Parkland Baptist Church in Louisville.

Bobbi & Josh Chesser with Unit 2:17 Ministry in Whitley City have been adopted by Ephesus Baptist Church WMU in Winchester.  Bobbi says their adoption has been wonderful.  They were invited to a church service at Ephesus and were taken to lunch.  The church has also given love offerings to their ministry.  “They have been fantastic.  We have formed relationships, more than just acquaintances.”

But the churches and groups that adopt these missionaries are blessed as well.  An adopting church or group will experience:

  • A personal relationship with an active missionary.
  • A strengthened commitment to missions.
  • A heightened awareness of missions opportunities.
  • A fresh, outwardly focused ministry perspective.
  • Group building and bonding through service to others.
  • An opportunity to see God at work and an invitation to join Him in it.

There are still several missionaries that have not yet been adopted.  Can they count on you?  For more information on how connect with a KY-MSC missionary go to www.kybaptist.org/adoptmissionary or email [email protected].  You will be glad you did.

God Has Provided!!

The holidays are upon us.  Next week we celebrate Thanksgiving and then “very soon it will be Christmas Day.”  As Kentucky Baptists we find ourselves once again in the midst of Christmas backpack deliveries to churches and ministries.  Boys and girls across the state will be blessed as backpacks YOU packed will be distributed to children in need.

Backpack applications were sent out in February, just prior to COVID-19, and we had requests for 17,350.  In a year that has been anything but “normal” we did not know what this year might look like as far as collecting the backpacks, or even how ministries might be able to distribute them which, I might say, is still being worked out.

Our Kentucky Baptist Convention goal for 2020 was to fill 10,000 backpacks, knowing that we would also receive many from partnering states.  Every year I get a little nervous thinking we may not get enough backpacks to fill all the requests but this year, with churches not having in-person services for several months, I was particularly concerned.  Just a few short weeks ago it looked as though we would only have about half of the backpacks that were requested. 

At the end of last week, the deadline for backpacks to be dropped off at our three regional sites, Kentucky churches had donated approximately 5,000 backpacks and another 7,900 were committed from our partnership state conventions.  This gave us an approximate total of 12,900, still about 4,450 backpacks short.  But our needs seem to be met.

Again, due to COVID, some of our distribution sites will not be able to have their normal outreach events and, as a result, have gotten fewer requests.  With our adjusted numbers, we now have the backpacks to meet the needs of our churches and ministries. 

I often think, “oh, me of little faith.”  Over and over again God provides just what we need.  So, I say, “Thank You, God.  Thank You, Kentucky Baptists.  And Thank You partnering state convention churches and associations that gave backpacks so that many boys and girls will have a blessed Christmas.” 

Pray with us that not only will the children receive a nice Christmas gift in the form of a backpack, but that the Gospel message will be shared, and many will come to know Christ as their personal Savior and receive the GREATEST GIFT this Christmas season.

May each of you have a Happy Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas!!

Sewing for Missions

When KY-MSC Missionary Tim Bargo called asking for masks for the “See You at the Pole” event, Mrs. Gloria Perkins stepped up to the plate.  Knowing of Mrs. Gloria’s sewing projects for missions in the past, I gave her a call.  She had never made masks but did have a pattern and would see what she could get done. 

In about a week Gloria called saying she had 50 masks made and would continue working on them.  In a couple more weeks she called back saying she had made a total of 150. 

“God gave me a talent for sewing and I want to use it for him,” said Gloria, who is a member of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Pine Knot.  Gloria grew up at Bethel but, as a newly married couple, in 1957 she and her husband moved to the Cincinnati area to find work.  An interesting story is that while in Ohio they were members of New Bethel Baptist Church.  Upon her husband’s retirement from GE in 1995 they build a house on her family’s homeplace and moved “back to Bethel” where she has lived and been a member of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church ever since.    

Prior to COVID the Bethel Baptist WMU ladies met monthly to study missions, pray for missionaries and to do projects for local, state, national and international missions.  They promote the Eliza Broadus, Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon offerings in their church and work with their hands to provide items for ministry. 

They made over 100 witnessing dolls and sent to an eastern Kentucky ministry.  Homemade bears, each with a tag that read “Jesus Loves You,” were put in Christmas Backpacks for Kentucky children, as well as sent to a missionary on the Louisiana coast.  Homemade dresses were put in their Samaritan Purse boxes for little girls in other countries.  The WMU also made and sold crafts, donating the money to their church to help with needed projects. 

Tim Bargo was so appreciative of the masks.  “As we are all in an uncharted time with the pandemic Mrs. Gloria Perkins showed the love of Christ by making masks for our First Priority network.” Tim said.  “I find it awesome that God told her to make masks and then weeks later He gave us the masks she made, without ever meeting or knowing each other.  Philippians 4:19 tells us, “God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” He has done that thru Mrs. Gloria!”

WMU groups all around the state are helping our missionaries to serve people and share the love of Christ.  To learn of ways you can use your God-given talents contact the KBC Missions Mobilization Team at 502-489-3530 or email [email protected].  We would love to connect you.

By the way, in addition to being active in the WMU, Mrs. Gloria also serves as church organist.  Thank you, Mrs. Gloria and Bethel Baptist WMU, for allowing God to use you to promote and support missions.

Introducing Kentucky’s 2020 Missionary of the Year

Kentucky Mission Service Corps Missionary Nelle Thomas has been investing in the lives of children in her community since 2007 when she and a handful of volunteers directed Kid’s Café, a weekly Bible study and meals for children on Wednesday evenings at their local church.  As this outreach began to grow God laid on Nelle’s heart to expand the ministry, which in turn became Mission Hope for Kids.

Mission Hope for Kids, a 501c3 non-profit, now ministers to 200 pre-K to 12th grade at-risk students offering holistic support by meeting physical needs, after-school tutoring, college and career services, ministering to the spiritual needs of the children and families, and so much more. In addition to their main Elizabethtown campus, they have satellite campuses in Radcliff and Leitchfield.

Mission Hope for Kids is indeed changing lives and the future of an entire generation of children and youth in their community.  Since 2016 Nelle has reported that a total of 112 persons have prayed to receive Christ. 

On a visit to Mission Hope for Kids several months ago a couple of cardboard testimonies caught my eye.  The first one read, “Before Mission Hope for Kids…Depressed, Worthlessness, no Friends, Thoughts of Suicide!”  The second one, “After Mission Hope for Kids…Depression Gone, I am Worthy, Have Friends, I want to Live! Thank You Jesus.” 

These are just a few of the reasons why Nelle has been chosen as the 2020 Kentucky Missionary of the Year.  This award is given annually to the missionary that demonstrates:

  • Commitment to and effectiveness in evangelism, church planting, or ministry.
  • Demonstration of “going the second mile”.
  • Outstanding performance in achieving assigned tasks.
  • Tenure.
  • Unusual commitment to our Lord’s service.
  • Positive representation of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
  • True reflection of being an “On Mission Christian”.

Nelle is one of 110 self-funded Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionaries called to various ministries in Kentucky, all involved in meeting physical and spiritual needs of those they serve.  In 2019 these missionaries collectively reported 2095 professions of faith as a result of their ministries. 

On behalf of these missionaries we say thanks for your prayers and for giving through the Eliza Broadus Offering for state missions.  Although self-funded, these missionaries benefit from EBO through grants, an annual missionary retreat, missionary orientation, and various trainings.  You are a part of their ministries as your pray and give through EBO. 

To learn more about Mission Hope for Kids click on www.missionhopeforkids.org.  Click on www.kybaptist.org/interseed to pray for Kentucky missionaries and church planters on their birthdays, or go to www.kybaptist.org/missionaries to pray for all of the missionaries on a regular basis.  To “adopt” a Kentucky missionary go to www.kybaptist.org/adoptmissionary or email [email protected] to get connected. 

What has your mission year looked like?

In a year that has been anything but normal, what has your church done in the area of missions?  Dates had been set, plans had been made, funds had been set aside for that summer mission trip, then COVID hit.  Everything practically shut down and, more than likely, your mission trip was cancelled.  This left you somewhat disappointed but think about those you were going to serve. 

COVID-19 has also left many of the missionaries disappointed and, in some instances, even discouraged.  They were looking forward to the fellowship with volunteers and mission teams.  They had projects to be completed.  They were depending on resources and funds from those scheduled to come.  They could no longer do ministry as usual and had to adjust their methods of service.  They grew tired of constantly ministering and giving with no one to minister and pour into their own lives. 

I pray that you did not forget these missionaries with whom you had planned to serve, but that you continued to stay in touch and encourage as much as you could.  And it is not too late.  Consider these ways you can continue to be involved in missions during the remainder of 2020.

  1. Pray for the missionaries and ministries.  Ask them for specific prayer requests.
  2. Call or email the missionaries just to see how they are doing, encourage them and find out about specific needs.
  3. Send a card to let the missionaries know you are thinking of them.
  4. Send a care package or gift card to thank them for their service.
  5. Provide resources that you know the ministry may need.
  6. Donate to the ministry.  One of the Kentucky missionaries shared that, even though mission teams had to cancel, a couple of them sent funds that they had set aside to use for their trip.  The missionaries depend on these funds for ministry and these donations are a big help to continue ministering.
  7. Pack a Christmas backpack for the missionaries to share with needy children. Since many Vacation Bible Schools were cancelled this year one church has suggested redirecting funds budgeted for VBS to fill Christmas backpacks. 

Ask God to show you innovative ways to support the work of missionaries in Kentucky and abroad.  Last year in our state many needy children and families were fed and clothed, homeless and hurting were ministered to, ladies with unplanned or unwanted pregnancies were encouraged to choose life instead of abortion, widows, internationals and refugees were served, those in prison or recovery were ministered to and, most of all, the Gospel of Christ was shared.  Our Kentucky missionaries reported 2095 professions of faith in Christ last year as a result of their ministries and you were a part of this as your prayed, encouraged, gave and served with them.  Thank you for adapting and not “cancelling” your 2020 mission experience!!