FROM THE STATES: Ala., Ky., Calif. evangelism/missions news; 'You feel like you're doing something for people who really need it'
Today's From the States features items from:
The Alabama Baptist
Western Recorder (Kentucky)
California Southern Baptist
Ala. thrift shop makes
'big difference' in community
By Grace Thornton
MILLRY, Ala. (The Alabama Baptist) -- Amanda Allday says one of the things she enjoys most about her job is that, on many days, it feels like she's seeing people go on a God-inspired treasure hunt.
"Some people, they'll come in and happen to find something that they were needing, and they'll say, 'I believe it was meant for me to find this,'" she said.
That's why the Caring Heart Center is there, said Allday, a member of Antioch Baptist Church near Millry who serves as manager. The large thrift shop, a ministry of Washington Baptist Association, offers clothes, furniture and other household items for people who need them most when they need them most.
"Our prices are not very high at all," she said. "And we often offer things to people who need them at no cost, like people who have had a house fire."
In recent weeks, they've had several families like that who have come through their doors, Allday said.
"It's definitely been a help to them," she said.
Larry Thompson, director of missions for Washington Baptist Association, said the Caring Heart Center has "made a big difference" in the community.
The ministry gathers donations from churches and individuals in the area and sells the items at a low price.
Then those profits -- after paying for the overhead of the building -- are put into the association's benevolence fund, which is used to pay up to $75 on utilities for people who have received a cutoff notice, Thompson said.
"We can do that once a year for people who need it," he said.
The association had known for a while that it needed a better way to address the needs in its community and had "struggled with this for several years and researched what we could do" before opening the Caring Heart Center, he said.
"It's helped us tremendously and the profits help us even further in helping people," Thompson said.
The ministry operated for a while in a small building -- about 1,000 square feet -- before moving to a larger 4,600-square-foot facility in 2009.
Connie Bryan, a longtime volunteer at the center, said the move greatly expanded their possibilities for ministry and bringing in more people is exactly what they're after.
'Contributing to community'
A member of Chatom Baptist Church, Bryan said her favorite part about serving at the Caring Heart Center is interacting with the people.
"It's a mission. You feel like you're doing something for people who really need it," she said. "Our prices are such that people can afford it and some of the items still have the price tags on them -- they've never been worn."
She would know -- she personally goes through many of the bags of donated items, pricing them and getting them ready to display.
"We all feel like we're contributing to the community by getting to work here," she said of herself and the dozen other volunteers who serve at the center on a regular basis. "It's not easy work.
But it's rewarding in lots of ways."
This article appeared in The Alabama Baptist (thealabamabaptist.org), newsjournal of the Alabama Baptist Convention. Grace Thornton is a correspondent for The Alabama Baptist.
15,000 Ky. kids receive
backpacks this year
By Myriah Snyder
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Western Recorder) -- Around 50,000 backpacks were collected by the North American Mission Board, Appalachian Regional Ministries, and Mississippi River Ministries to be distributed to children in need. Approximately 15,000 of those were distributed to Kentucky children.
Each backpack contains school supplies, a Bible, a toy, a clothing item, a gospel tract, and a hygiene product. The backpacks received by Kentucky children were packed and donated by Alabama and Georgia Baptists. However, this year, the backpacks packed and donated by other states reached as far as New York City.
The backpacks are distributed to various churches, associations and ministries to assist with outreach across the state of Kentucky and the Appalachian regions. NAMB, ARM and MRM have been collecting and distributing backpacks for years, beginning as a small operation with 300 shoeboxes in 2001 and growing to thousands of backpacks by 2011.
When churches and ministry centers give out the backpacks, they are encouraged to have a birthday party for Jesus. Ministries such as Cedaridge Ministries in Williamsburg give out food boxes and clothing to families as well as the backpacks. "It's about helping the child and introducing the family to Christ," Bill Barker, national director for ARM and MRM as a NAMB missionary, said.
The purpose of the backpacks is threefold, Barker said. They are to be "child focused, Christ centered, and local church connected."
"We had a saying in eastern Kentucky when I came on board. One of our state missionaries took me aside and said, 'Bill, just remember this: A hungry child cannot hear you tell them about Jesus over the growl of their hungry stomach,'" Barker said.
"I'm just grateful for Southern Baptists and their support of the Cooperative Program and Annie Armstrong. This would not happen without that," he added.
Barker continued, "As I'm out there these last two weeks, renting trucks and equipment and moving backpacks from point A to point B, we send Send Relief semis out, that can only happen because Southern Baptists not only gave the backpacks but they gave to the Cooperative Program and AAEO."
"I am so thankful for the churches that worked to provide and fill the backpacks so that children in eastern Kentucky could receive them," Eric Allen, Kentucky Baptist Convention's missions mobilization team leader, said. "I pray that many children will come to faith in Christ as the Gospel is shared and backpacks distributed.
He added, "The backpacks are a blessing to our Kentucky missionaries who will be sharing them with families they minister to." (WR)
This article appeared in the Western Recorder (westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Myriah Snyder is a news writer for the Western Recorder.
encouraged to 'TALC'
by Amanda Phifer
GUALALA, Calif. (California Southern Baptist) -- There are summer camps for students that include a good deal of Christian talk. And then there's one summer camp in a Northern California coastal hamlet that is all about TALC (pronounced "talk") -- "Teaching As Life Comes."
"It's taken from Deuteronomy 6:4-9," explained Jason Baker, one of the founders of the annual camp operated through Gualala Baptist Church in Gualala, "where the Israelites are instructed to basically teach the Law to their children throughout the course of every regular day.
"That's what we aim to do during TALC Kamp -- not just a little spiritual hype here, a little there, and a lot of free time, but teaching that's going on through the whole day."
Lofty words, but potentially difficult to implement -- unless you have the leader-to-student ratio TALC Kamp does: about three students per leader.
"Because of that really small ratio, teaching throughout the day becomes a great tool for both leaders and students," Jason explained. "It helps leaders be more intentional, and a lot of the kids get a unique opportunity to see what a life lived in the Lord looks like.
"It's a really neat discipleship opportunity," Jason said of the camp that celebrated its 10th anniversary this summer.
This translates into a lot of ... well, talking ... interspersed throughout the four-day weekend camp -- not just the teaching kind of talking delivered from stage each morning and most evenings, but also talking in age-graded small groups ... during the three-hour river playtime ... around the beach campfire ... during "talent show" preparation ... during mealtime.
"There are constant opportunities to invest in students' lives, to share, to disciple, to teach," said Jason, who is one of the pastors at Gualala Baptist Church. "It's really cool to sit on the side of the river with two or three students and just talk about life, and incorporate scripture and prayer and just overall walking with Jesus into those conversations.
"It's so rich."
Sherann Kim, California Southern Baptist Convention student evangelism specialist, has helped with worship and teaching at the camp for several years. She agreed with her college friend Jason: "The heartbeat of TALC for students is, 'We love you for who you are because Christ loves you, and let me share Christ with you.'
"Everything about TALC is so intentional. And the Gospel is heavily saturated in that camp."
TALC is offered once each summer for students in grades 6-12 (and sometimes beyond) in Mendo Lake Baptist Association, which includes two counties and a three-hour drive around its radius. A group from Southern California also attends.
Right on the coast, the camp includes beach, redwood forest and the Gualala River. It's led by Jason and Jenni Baker and Keith Gamble, a deacon at Chapel of the Redwoods in Comptche.
Financially, it's a partnership between Gualala Baptist, Mendo Lake Association and various individuals who contribute to the camp.
Because so many of the students come from geographically isolated small towns, small churches (only three to 10 youth in many of them) and not particularly high-income families, TALC is especially appealing: it's local, it's biblical and it's a mere $30 per student.
One of the signs of its impact is that so many students who have attended over the years want to come back and serve as leaders. So Jason and Jenni, who began the camp the first summer after arriving in Gualala, have developed a leadership training track for those students. One man -- who was a student eight years ago -- now returns each summer, from Washington, with his family, to help with the camp.
"Jason and Jenni believe not only in discipleship but also in growing leaders," Kim noted. "I love that about TALC. They really want to hone in and utilize people's giftings.
"I love to see students who were timid on the back row as students, but now have graduated and come back as leaders, in their element, shining and passionate about what they're doing.
"Jason and Jenni are discipling, and then giving these 'leaders of the future' opportunities to serve now."
The impact is short-term, too.
"This past year there were students at a church who jumped in and made Vacation Bible School happen at their church because of what they had learned at camp this year with our theme, 'The Church,'" Jenni explained.
"One student stayed active in a local church when he went to college, even though that had not looked at all like a certainty," Jason added. "He behaved contrary to what the statistics tell us about students dropping out of church when they move away from home. I think a lot of the stories from camp are what students heard from the Word of God and what they've done with it.
"And there are students who place their faith in Christ every summer," he said. "To see that happen is such a privilege and an honor."
Apparently TALC-ing works.
This article appeared in the California Southern Baptist (csbc.com/csb), newsjournal of the California Southern Baptist Convention. Amanda Phifer is a writer for the California Southern Baptist.
EDITOR'S NOTE: From the States, published each Tuesday by Baptist Press, relays news and feature stories from state Baptist papers and other publications on initiatives by Baptist churches, associations and state conventions in evangelism, church planting and Great Commission outreach, including partnership missions. Reports about churches, associations and state conventions responding to the International Mission Board's call to embrace the world's unengaged, unreached people groups also are included in From the States, along with reports about church, associational and state convention initiatives in conjunction with the North American Mission Board's call to Southern Baptist churches to broaden their efforts in starting new churches and satellite campuses. The items appear in Baptist Press as originally published.