Spring has Sprung!

Spring has sprung!  Our kids have enjoyed reconnecting after a long winter.

On March 15th we tested our kids’ creativity and challenged them to create a house for their Easter Peeps.  Check our Instagram page (Instagram.com/beckleyfirstbaptist) to see their work.  Construction was quickly followed by demolition as they ate their creations.

On March 23rd, we prepared for the Easter Eggstravaganza by stuffing hundreds of eggs full of goodies.  The eggs were hidden throughout the church with clues leading to their locations. We invited the community to join in the fun on March 28th.  Check out the photos on our website (beckleyfirstbaptist.org).

On March 29th, our kids completed their lesson on service by assisting in the long-awaited Valentine (now Palm Sunday) dinner.  They were a big help by serving during and cleaning up after the event.

Our older youth have been challenged by their Sunday school teachers to learn the Romans Road.  What a blessing that they will be able to share with others!

We are planning exciting events over the coming months.  Stay connected with us on Instagram and at beckleyfirstbaptist.org.  We look forward to seeing everyone on Sundays at 9:45 am for Sunday school and church, and at 6 pm for our Family Fellowship time.

Minister in the Pew: Already Missing the Elephants

by Rev Robert A Wendel

Have you been a fan of elephants at the circus?  Well, the next time they’re in town, rush out and see them because they are being pulled from all the Ringling Brother’s shows by 2018.  Kids love these large, majestic creatures, whose trunks sway as they ample around the center ring.

The absence of the performing elephants will certainly be a big change under the world’s most famous Big Top.  We humans don’t like change, even if changes come slowly.  We know what we anticipate seeing or doing at most public events. There’s a script in our heads that’s been there since the days when we begged our parents for cotton candy.

If we’re counted present at most regular Sunday morning worship services, we know in that hour there will be three hymns, a sermon, an offering and a rundown of the congregation’s upcoming doings.  We just don’t like surprises especially on the Sabbath.  Everyone knows we conclude this weekly ritual at noon.  Lunch awaits.

Pastors often refer to God as our rock.  It’s reassuring to lay hold of this picture of the Almighty, to catch the stability, the permanence and the strength we find in Him.

In this time of unexpected change, knowledge that God is enduring and unchanging is a source of unshakable comfort even for now-and-then Christians.  Still, we all have to handle the things that disturb us.  Sometimes, we call them “the elephants in the room.”  Often there is no inner peace this side of those human struggles.

Non-believers have been known to mock these who seek refreshment, renewal or some sort of personal, spiritual recharging within the confines of our faith and our relationship with our Maker.  No weakness here, only abiding, honest joy!

This certainly is a word of assurance and it can be ours even after this year’s beautiful Easter flowers have served their predictable, unchangeable purpose, reminding us – Jesus lives!  And indeed, one day, so shall we.

ABW Mission and Service

by Norma Gunter

I returned from Costa Rica, 2/5/15, after spending 2 weeks at CEDCAS with Lillian Solt and two                 work teams from Pa.    I’ve know Lillian since l994 and this was my 6th visit there.  The last was in 2003           when Lonnie and I went down for the opening celebration of CEDCAS.   I wanted to celebrate my 80th birthday there so my sister and I decided we weren’t too old to travel and made plans to go. PTL it all worked out great.

We worked at a Baptist Church, St. Thomas, about 45 min. from CEDCAS.  We ate most of our lunches there.  The food was prepared by the women of the church. It was delicious.  Three days we helped with Bible School for about 80 children.  The kids are beautiful and the people were very friendly.  Electric work, building, painting and clean-up work was also done at the church.  We saw rainbows about every day on our way back to the clinic.  The second week the sky was lit up with the full moon.  We also saw beautiful flowers and birds everywhere.  The weather was in the middle 70’s with a constant breeze.

We ate most of our breakfast meals at CEDCAS.  They were very good also.  We ate in three local restaurants.  One chicken, one Chinese and one Costa Rican.   We made two Sat. day trips to see Lillian’s work with the children and one trip to the squatter community of Guarari where the team the week before us had given away shoes.  We spent our first Sat. 1/24 with a bus load of children, from the squatters community, at a church camp in the mountains. We played games, did crafts, gave them refreshments, backpacks with school supplies and a bag of candy for over 50 children.  Different organizations try to help these  children who are refugees from other Central American countries like Nicaragua, Honduras, etc. The local Catholic church helped CEDCAS with a Christmas party for 400 of the children from  Guarari.

These children live in huts made of scrap tin, lumber, plastic and whatever they can find.  On Sun. 2/1, we visited the town which is located in a ravine near Heredia where CEDCAS is located.

There is no running water, no electricity or sewage facilities for the community.  One lady, who Lillian helps, invited us to enter her home.  An experience I’ll never forget.  There was two makeshift beds for a family of 6, clothes piled everywhere in the one dark room.  The rest of the home was outside with no kitchen and no bathroom.  Sewer water ran down a ditch in front of the houses.  Heavy rains are washing out the big ditch which runs through the town.  It is washing out the bridge to the house where Lillian was using for programs for the people.  The bridge has been condemned so they are unable to uses the bridge which is the only way to the house.  Since it is condemned they would be liable if someone was injured.  They are raising money to buy another home nearby for their programs.

We visited the second area, Harquestes, on Sat. 1/31 to visit the church and spend the day with the children.  Lillian told us they have given away over 600 cows. The people were unable to feed the large animals so they started a program 14 years ago of giving away baby chickens instead.  The team played games, did several crafts, fed them hot dogs and gave away backpacks with school supplies and bags of candy.  There were over 100 children there.  It is a very poor section of the country with frequent floods and no jobs.  The pastor’s young daughter was recently killed in a motor cycle accident.  The town is 2 hrs away over the mountains through the rain forest.  What beautiful scenery.

In our daily devotions one of the men said when someone asks, why don’t you send the money you spend instead of going there yourself?  Tell them “God didn’t send a check.”  The people know you care enough for them to come and help in person.  I think I received more hugs in two weeks than I did all last year.  If you ever get a chance to go on a mission trip—go.

More about CEDCAS and my visits with Susan Hegarty, our own American Baptist Missionary in Costa Rica, next month.  For now our ABW is getting ready to roll bandages for our Overseas White Cross Handwork quota and send a Walmart gift card for our Overland White Cross quota. We also have a White Cross Purchase Plan Request for South Africa & Burundi.  Women of First Baptist come join us in helping people around the world.  We need your help.

Yes!

by Joyce Mills

YES!   It is a great feeling to know that 17 children will be taking backpacks home on Friday.  The backpacks are filled with very nutritious food that has been purchased especially for them.

As you read this, maybe you brought a jar of Peanut Butter or you might have provided some money for the shoppers to buy it.  At any rate, 17 children will benefit from someone at First Baptist caring.  Just so you know, these children are in grades PreK – 5th  grade at Beckley Elementary.

Hunger is one of the many faces of poverty.  It keeps children from learning, increases the reason for children being absent from school, causes anxieties and low self – esteem, and even keeps the child from paying attention in class.

Thanks to you who have joined the fight to feed hungry kids!

We provide enough food for the weekend.  There is a special menu for each weekend that provides 6 meals and 2 snacks.  Those backpacks are heavy!  However, no child has been heard saying, “That backpack is too heavy, I can’t carry it.”  That backpack will get them through the weekend!  The food must be kid-friendly, shelf stable, easy to prepare, and nutritionally sound, so it is important for us to choose the foods wisely that will make up the backpacks each week.

Our shoppers and menu maker always try to put something special in the backpacks  for  days like Easter or any holiday.

We appreciate any amount of money you give.  We also appreciate you bringing in the named food for the month.  For the month of April we are asking you to bring in any kind of prepared pudding.  Just put it on the back counter in the kitchen.  Thank you for your help!

Chocolate pudding!                       Banana pudding!                            Vanilla pudding!

God Gives Us Springtime

by Doc Adkins

Job 38:12 “Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;”

This is part of the Lord’s answer to Job when in questioning life as it was for him, God reminds him of some really wonderful truths.   He mentions several aspects of creation in this chapter.

Job 38:4-7 “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.  Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof?  When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

Genesis 1:3-5 All the way back to Genesis we read, “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.  And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.  And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.  And the evening and the morning were the first day.”

God created light, and the morning for the dayspring.

Genesis 8:22 Then after the flood, God made this promise, “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”

We may experience cold dark winters, but we can be sure that springtime, our seedtime, will follow.

God created the seasons, just as He created day and night and put them in their time and place.

And so, because of all this we are reminded that: “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  Psalm 118:24

I am not usually a “morning person”.  I don’t mind rising up early and starting my day, just don’t ask me to like you first thing or talk to you first thing.

But when I wake up and hear the birds singing, and see the bright sunshine peeking through the trees it puts a song in my heart.

I hear complaints about hay fever and allergies brought on by the trees and flowers in bloom.

Others may gripe about the bugs and mosquitoes, but I like springtime.

The Psalmist said, “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

We have many reasons to rejoice.  “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.  Selah.”  Psalm 68:19

That little word “Selah”, means “stop and think about it”.  God is so good.    He not only supplies our needs, but He has also made a way of salvation.

We read in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.”

Also in I Thessalonians 5:16, “Rejoice evermore.”

If you still can’t think of any reason to rejoice, Christ tells us to “rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”  Luke 10:20   Rejoice!!!

Minister in the Pew: Doing Some Soul-Searching

by Rev Robert A Wendel

Yes, it’s cold outside, there’s ice on the roads and snow on the ground, at record levels. It looks more like Christmas than being just six weeks away from another Resurrection Sunday. Western Christian churches call the forty days preceding Holy Week, Lent – a time to evaluate one’s spiritual connection to Jesus.

During the Lenten season, many fellowships conduct membership classes. Baptists, traditionally, include Individual adult baptism moments during Easter morning or evening worship services.

Once again, Christ seems to be urging you and me to reflect upon our personal relationship with Him. To underscore that, many pastors feel led to focus his or her seasonal teaching and preaching on helping listeners re-think just where they each ‘stand with the Lord.’ And that is, surely, a good thing.

We find ourselves living in the mist of many responsibilities, worries, anxieties, demands, and difficulties. Not only are our personal lives, ‘stressed out’, today’s media headlines, sometimes, can cause us to lose focus on Christ and His call to reform our lives and live according to the gospel.

Many Christians don’t even want to do some honest soul-searching.  Still, thankfully, thousands of committed believers do respond to the opportunity that this spring rite affords for prayer, the giving one’s financial offerings and reflection, coupled with regular Sabbath morning, evening or mid-week  prayer and bible study experiences.

This does not have to be a morbid time. Yes, we may need to re-examine our relationships with family, co-workers, school mates, neighbors and even fellow church members, making likely changes necessary so you and I can become more Christ-like in our attitudes and everyday relationships.

The handful of weeks before Easter sunrise can also serve to remind us how the life we live really does reflect our co-operation with God, acknowledging His abundant grace during our ordinary days, ever so glad for Jesus, who is always ready to strengthen us and literally carry us from the darkness of this world to a bright Easter dawn or glowing sunset!

What a winter!

What a winter!  The plentiful snow has produced snowmen, snow angels and lots of days off from school.  Unfortunately, it also meant that many of our activities had to be canceled or rescheduled.  No worries, though.  Warmer weather is just around the corner and we have lots of great plans.

Our Super Bowl Party was a tremendous success.  Our thanks to those who participated.  It was a wonderful opportunity for food and fellowship while testing our new media center.  We hope to host similar events throughout the year.

We are currently building our spring events calendar.  We always want to encourage your input.  Please share your talents with us!

A Special Thanks from Beckley Elementary

Beckley Elementary is blessed to have First Baptist Church provide backpacks of food to many of our students.  Each Friday, these students are individually called to the office and their backpack is given to them in a discreet manner so as not to call attention to their situation.  They are always so gracious about accepting their backpack.  Many of them say “thank you” with a genuine smile on their face.  It is a special ministry that you provide to these children.   As a school, we are grateful that you are able and willing to do this.

We love our students and want the best for them.  By providing the backpacks with food, you are helping to provide them with something many people take for granted:  food.  Thank you again for your continued support of our students!

Meghan Houck, Principal

Beckley Elementary

 

We will be collecting 18 oz. jars of peanut butter (plastic of course) for the month of March.  Donations can be left on the back counter in the kitchen.

Spring, Everyday!

by Doc Adkins

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! …tell of His salvation from day to day.  Psalm 96:1-2 (ESV)

It does not matter what part of the country you are in during winter. Whether the temperatures have just dipped below freezing or I have endured a deep freeze for months, I always eagerly anticipate spring! I try very hard to be upbeat all winter, keeping my grumbling to myself. Staying positive during dreary days is difficult for me. Gray skies, cold air, wind, and short days depress me. On the other hand, when sunshine peaks through the clouds and warm breezes penetrate my skin, my mood changes immediately. The truth is that I have a hard time persevering through winter months. I wish it were spring all year long.

Why do I like spring? I like new life. I can’t help but open my eyes with a smile when birds’ songs announce a new day. The smell of fresh wet dirt just after a good rain causes me to breathe life back into my wilting soul.  When I first notice the flowers pushing through the dark dirt, I cannot contain myself. I become a fan cheering for the team of flowers that has fought the miraculous fight – popping out of a hard seed in a deep and dark place, forcing their way up though the cold soil, eventually tasting the bright rays of sunshine, and finally blooming in all their glorious color.

Guess what? I have great news! In God’s economy every day is spring! Listen to what He says:

2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” (NASB)

Colossians 3:10, “… put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge, according to the image of the One who created him.” (NASB)

2 Corinthians 5:18-20: “The old life is gone; a new life begins! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him … God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives.” (MSG)

How can I make every day like spring?

Celebrate my salvation. Praise God everyday with new songs that tell of His love and new life.

Be intentional every day to be renewed. Make it a priority to become deeply acquainted with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Learn something new about Him every day!

Be an ambassador. Share the good news daily, either through good deeds or saving words. Ask for God’s guidance.

Winter’s time is drawing to a close for now. It will return all too soon. Yet it doesn’t matter if you are prepared to celebrate new life every day of the year. Maybe you don’t feel like spring, but instead you are stuck in winter. Even though winter’s soil is hard and frozen, allow your heart to be tilled by God’s Word. Then go forth and cast the seeds that are able to come to life even in the darkest of times.

Dear Lord, thank you that every day You shower Your new mercies down on those You love. Help me to always see the new thing You are doing in my life. Give me wisdom and strength to respond in a way that would please and glorify You.  In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.

Mission News

Dear Friends, 

This is an  URGENT request!      

We would like to share three short clips from Lauran Bethell, Global Missionary, that have been received since July 2014.  As you know Lauran travels the globe and has insight as to what is going on in human trafficking in many countries. 

What a fabulous “birthday celebration” International Ministries had this summer!  Celebrating 200 years as an organization—the longest running Christian mission agency in the USA—was a giant moment in history. 1300 people were gathered at our “heart place”—the Green Lake Conference Center:  our dear supporters, encouragers and pray-ers, church leaders/partners from more than 30 countries!  ALL the IM missionaries!  It was exciting!  It was fun!   AND, I missed a big part of it”… (because of an inner ear virus.)

“When I was home, I had many guests and numerous consultations with people.  One of my guests, a Jewish Ivy league lawyer, is doing her PhD at Oxford and is doing very  valuable research in Amsterdam in a government shelter for victims of trafficking-and she is so caring and passionate about their situations. She realized that they didn’t have adequate winter clothes, and asked me if I would ask some of the churches I attend in Holland if they would help out. With little time before Christmas, I just posted a note on Facebook, asking my Dutch friends if they could help with some good winter clothes.  Friends in 3 churches mobilized themselves and their communities-I ended up with 2 very full packed carloads of good clothing, which I delivered hours before I left for the USA.  The Social Workers now want me to come back and help with some other projects-so it’s been a great “in” to the shelter.”

“I flew to Kyrgyzstan for our ‘International Christian Alliance on Prostitution Central Asian Conference  It went really well!  We had about 70 people representing 8 countries there-including representatives from Thailand and Russia!  They came because women from Central Asia are being trafficked to their countries.  It was a great time of sharing mutual concerns, strategizing ways of ministering to the victims, spiritual nourishment for the practitioners and also lots and lots of valuable information sharing.  The 3 teams from Russia who were with us, invited us to do our conference there next November and that’s really exciting.”

As you can see from these excerpts, Lauran doesn’t waste any time. This is just a small sampling of her schedule. Our challenge is to provide the resources needed to allow her to continue on the journey to rid this world of human trafficking.  All Missionaries are now asked to help raise their support funds.  Lauran has visited several churches in Southern West Virginia and has also been the guest speaker at the WVBC.  Everyone who knows Lauran has been inspired with her compassion and dedication for her work with human trafficking in the global arena.  We know that you will want to help Lauran be funded 100%.

Lauran’s Missionary Financial Extension Team in WV consists of Yevette Shafer, Rita Barker and Joyce Mills.  We encourage you to especially share the following letter with your Congregation and Women’s Groups.  A group of friends in Oregon will be providing matching funds up to $4,000 if our money is received by the middle of February.

Your gift of any size will make a difference!

Through the church:  Be sure that the donation is designated when the remittance form is sent in.

Sent individually: Be sure to Memo: Lauran Bethell  Make checks to WVBC and send to:  WVBC, Attn: Joan Hall, 1019 Juliana St., Parkersburg, WV, 26102

Thank you so much for your friendship and commitment to Christ’s Mission!