September 16, 2014
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (BP) -- Matthew Hallenbeck got a phone call no pastor wants to get on a Sunday morning. The church was on fire.

An incapacitated driver had plowed into Bellewood Baptist Church in Syracuse, N.Y., early that morning causing massive damage -- and a fire. The church decided -- as they worshipped together outside on a cool, crisp October morning -- to rebuild again.

Yet no one worshipping on the church lawn knew exactly how the congregation would come up with the hundreds of thousands of dollars that would be needed.

Now, a year and a half later, Bellewood is just months from worshipping in a new building -- thanks, in part, to a church nearly 900 miles away and the Appalachian Regional Ministry that connected the two.

First Baptist Church in Barnwell, S.C., looking for a new mission trip to replace one that had been cancelled, found out about Bellewood's need through Bill Barker, ARM's longtime executive director. First Baptist then scheduled a construction trip to help Bellewood. It was the first of several volunteer connections made by ARM to help the New York church.

"One of the reasons I'm Southern Baptist is that I believe in the Cooperative Program," Hallenbeck said of the help Bellewood received from volunteers through the Appalachian Regional Ministry. "Southern Baptists learned a long time ago that we can do a lot more together than we can by ourselves. This just proves it to me -- these people coming together and working with us to build the church.

"It's not something we could have done on our own."

ARM started in 1999 as a partnership of 13 state conventions, the North American Mission Board and Woman's Missionary Union. It has been a catalyst for nearly 600,000 volunteers' ministry throughout the region. More than 60,000 people have come to faith in Christ through ministries associated with ARM. Read More
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