Exchanging Darkness for Light

by Rev Robert A Wendel

Every Christian knows that Christmas is for celebrating.   Celebrating the gift of God’s Son to us.  For us.  “The Son of God has come, Light has entered the world.  A Savior is here and our sins are forgiven.” (John 8:12)

What a grand reality.  In the midst of all the sad, distressing news coming across the wires and internet these days.  Just when our nights are the longest and our days seem filled with problems and too much pain, we are reminded again that God’s own Son came to earth to live and die among us.

We rejoice because Heaven-sent joy came to earth.  We give gifts because the grandest One has been given to us.  We feast because the Bread of Life has been provided.  We sing carols because all the earth must hear those bright melodies again.

Still, amid all the brightness, our souls remain in death’s shadow.  The power of human failure to stain the soul with sin is inescapable. Defeat and darkness continue to shade tomorrow’s horizons.  The burden of our guilt leaves ridges in the mind which clouds the soul making it hard to gain confidence enough to look for tomorrow’s sunlight.

As we light candles this Christmas Eve, let’s you and I ask our mighty and loving Savior to dispel these shadows.  As we lift our voices to sing carols, let’s praise the One who came to break the back of condemnation and restore our union with the Almighty Creator, to enable us to become all we were meant to be, children of our glorious Father.  (John 3:17).

As we move through this Yuletide, join me in a duel declaration:  “We receive your Light, Lord Jesus – purge our souls and let us live in your light.  We will share Your Light – having so freely received your Love, we will share it with family, friends and strangers, in this blessed Holy Season.  Heaven’s Light has come and the darkness will never be the same!”

The Food We Have Provides a Blessing:  Our gentlemen will share in yet another breakfast at 8:00 am on Saturday, December 12th.  Area Minister Jim Anderson will share WV/ABC information and inspiration.

Special thanks to all who provided and shared in our Fall Harvest Dinner and to everyone who gave to our Helping Hands food drive – many blessings !!!

You’re not you when you’re hungry.

by Joyce Mills

If the little voice in the stomach of 22 kids who get backpacks every Friday could be heard talking, this might be what we would hear.  Those of you reading this probably have no clue what it is really like to be hungry.  I have no clue what it’s like to be really hungry!  Neither can I imagine a young child being really hungry!  Living in this country, no child should have this hungry feeling for food.  However, due to the various situations that happen in families, the research tells us that 1 out of 5 children is hungry.  How very sad!

Our church family has been asked by school staff if we could help with Christmas for these same kids. It is one thing to be hungry for real food – it is another thing to know that Christmas is coming and that Santa is probably not going to visit.  How can these same 22 children have much excitement or joy in thinking about Christmas?

Thanks to those who attended the November Business Meeting of the Church and voted to help these students in another way besides food. Again, because of a caring church and loving members, the Backpack Kids will certainly have a Merry Christmas.  Thank YOU!  AND, a Very Merry Christmas to YOU!

The one thing you could donate in December would be the individual pudding cups. Any flavor will work! Just put it on the back counter in the kitchen and know that every cup is appreciated.

Ladies, we have a challenge

by Norma Gunter

Ladies, we have a challenge.  Ten women from West Virginia Baptist have accepted the call to go on a mission trip to the Philippines in February.  They are going to SHARE & LIVE OUT the GOSPEL among Filipino  women caught in prostitution.

The women will be working with Debbie Mulneix, one of the missionaries FBC partners with each month.  Debbie supports the anti-human trafficking work of Samaritana Transformation Ministries in Manila, the Philippines.  She assists in the development of the Guest House facilities and in the marketing of livelihood products, such as jewelry, and greeting cards.

SMT provides a safe, comforting place for these women.  These women may have never known people who accept them as they are. Samaritana assists these women as they develop many relationships that will last a lifetime.  To learn more about Samaritana check out www.samaritana.org.

The challenge is to sponsor an event at our church to raise $100 toward the cost of the trip for your sisters in Christ and ministry supplies.  Believe me mission trips are expensive for it took me a while to pay off my trip in January to Costa Rica.  By the way, thank you to the ones who helped me with my trip.

Since sponsoring an event costs a lot of money may I suggest that anyone who would like to help us meet this challenge give a donation with a check made out to FBC and mark it for the Philippines  Mission Trip.  When we meet the challenge the money will to be sent to  Linda Carpenter, Treasurer, 63 Wakefield Place, Washington, WV 26181.  Be in prayer for these ten women and Debbie Mulneix. It takes special people to do this work for our Lord.

Most of you have heard Lauren Bethel, who spoke at our church October 27th and several other times, who is a Global Consultant on Anti-human trafficking.  She travels the world and on Nov. 22-28 she will be at the  ICAP/Central Asia Conference in Central Asia, and several other conferences in Dec., sharing Jesus’ Hope and Healing.  Lauren is another missionary that FBC partners with every month.  Remember our missionaries in prayer.

MISSION CHALLENGE TO ALL WOMEN came from the WV ABW Mission and Service Ministries.

Peace On Earth! Yeah, Right!

by Doc Adkins

“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” Luke 2:16 (NIV)

“Hurry up! We’re going to be late to the choir concert!”           

“Come on kids. Help me unload these groceries right now.   I’ve got to get a lot of stuff done before bedtime.”

“Who stocks this stupid store, anyway?”

“Is it 6 a.m. already? I gotta get to that door buster sale as soon as it opens so I don’t miss out on the deals!”

With the holiday season upon us, the music at the mall announces that folks are dreaming of a white Christmas. That may be true. But in reality, many of us are dreaming of something else white: a little more white space on our December calendars!

Pageants. Parties. Shopping trips. Baking days. Wrapping nights. Extra hours of work.  At every turn there are people to see, things to do, stuff to buy. The hustle and bustle of this supposed-to-be-happy season can knock the holly-jolly right out of our holidays and replace it with hurried-up headaches instead.

As a result, our calendars become overloaded, crowding out the spiritual significance of the season.

I wonder if the participants in the original Christmas story ever dreamed that the celebration of Christ’s birth would become so hassled and hurried. The shepherds? The angels? The wise men? Mary and Joseph too? Was hurriedness present the night Jesus was born? We might think that it was not. But actually, there was hurry present that night. However, it wasn’t to the mall or grocery store that people were rushing.

The shepherds were working in the fields when suddenly an ensemble of angels told them the Christ Child had been born. Luke 2:16 says they hurried off to find Him lying in a manger. If I had been one of those shepherds, I would have been quiet and amazed once I got there. Being around a newborn baby makes me speak in a hushed tone and feel such awe as I see new life. In the presence of Jesus I wonder if those men too were settled and silent.

Maybe we could do the same today. In the midst of our holiday hustle and tasks, we could stop; leave our work. We could slow down long enough to hurry in another direction. We could put a few minutes on hold so we might quietly meet with our Lord. We could be settled and silent in the presence of Jesus.

As a result we just might discover an unhurried holiday: a season that will strengthen us spiritually instead of sapping our energy and joy.

How about it? Will we pause to enter into His presence instead of rushing from task to task? Would we linger long enough to be refreshed by the company of the One whom the holiday is really about?  The tasks will wait while we do. Here’s to more “white space” this Christmas; space that creates more room in our days for meeting with Jesus!

What activities and responsibilities threaten to make you rushed and stressed at the holidays?

Pull away from the holiday hustle and spend time with Jesus is to many unthinkable, but it is so very necessary.

Luke 2:15, “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.'” (NIV)

Proverbs 8:17, “I love those who love me, and those who search for me find me.”

American Baptist Women – Mission and Service

by Norma Gunter

Ladies if you missed the 132nd Women’s Day at the West Virginia Baptist Convention at the First Baptist Church of Hurricane, WV you missed a special occasion.  Jeff Oakland drove the church bus and we want to thank him.

The meeting started with Mark Burdette playing the bagpipes for the banner processional. Joyce Mills brought our banner made by Mary Nell Godbey and it hung on the wall with many other church banners. The music was great and the lunch exceptional.

Two of our WV supported missionaries spoke about their work.  Rhonda Reed told of her families work in Bolivia and Debbie Myers told of their work in Mexico.

The book with the women honored in the MILLION WOMEN MOVEMENT was presented to the group. The money collected, $1.00 for each name honored, is to be used for new work. The first project for 2015 was three scholarships for a Mexican Missionary trip.  Jordan Lallemont, a recipient of the scholarship, gave a report on the trip. Later I looked in the book and found my mother’s name, one of the ones I honored.

Claudia and Tom Tull presented special music on dulcimers and a skit,  “Light of the Storage Closet” was given by the women. The meeting closed with a video by Kathy Troccoli “Go Light Your World” and each lady was given a candle to show her light.

We learned of new things scheduled for us. April 1-3, 2016 is a Women’s Camp for women 18 and older at Camp Cowen for $35. The camp is to unite generations of women to experience a weekend focused on living life as a Christian woman. Ladies let’s get together and go to the camp. Everyone loves camp.

Another opportunity is a bus trip sponsored by the West Virginia Baptist Convention to the World Mission Conference at Green Lake, Wisconsin. Ladies I’ve been there twice and it’s worth the trip. The trip is July 3-9, 2016. The first deposit is due January 15, 2016. This is open to anyone who loves missions.

Our cancelled stamps for missions is ongoing. I mailed a 5.8 oz package October 6 to Fort Myers, Florida. Remember to leave 1/4” around the stamps for damage stamps are of no value.  May God bless the women of Beckley First Baptist.

Operation Christmas Child

by Debbie Vanaman

More than 15 years ago, FBC partnered with Samaritans Purse and got involved in Operation Christmas Child for the first time.   Hundreds and thousands of shoeboxes have been collected during that time and for that I am truly grateful.  These children, most of whom have never had a present before in their lives, received a shoebox filled with school supplies, small toys and hygiene items.  Many of them had to wait in line for what seemed like hours for a young child just to receive this box.  The joy and smiles on their faces as you see pictures of boxes being distributed will melt your heart.   With every shoebox that is given out, the word of Jesus goes with it to that child’s home and eventually to their village or town that they live in.  This also has an impact on the families who often have never heard of Jesus and ultimately through their child, give their hearts and lives over to Jesus.  Yes it takes a bit of time and some money, but the reward is immeasurable.  Just one shoebox in one small town halfway around the world can have an extremely positive impact.

Collection week this year is November 16th through 20th.  This is when shoeboxes from churches and organizations in our community return their shoeboxes to be packed in cartons and start their journey.  Helpers are needed during that week but also on Saturday, Nov. 21st when these cartons have to be loaded and taken to Princeton.   The time for this is not definite – so keep an eye on the church bulletin for that info.

As always, I ask you to keep this program in your prayers throughout 2016 as the shoeboxes are delivered  around the world.   Remember – it’s a simple shoebox but it has the power to change the world through your gift.

Let’s Pack the Pulpit

With the winter months quickly approaching,  we’ve started a program called  “Pack the Pulpit”.  During  the month of November, we are asking for non-perishable food items and new blankets which will be distributed by Helping Hands to be placed in the sanctuary on the stage around the pulpit.  Our goal is to pack the pulpit so much that Pastor Adkins has to preach on the floor on November 22nd, the Sunday before Thanksgiving.    Please consider lending a hand so that others will be warm and have enough to eat this winter.

Adopt-A-Grandparent Program

Ann Coleman has become involved in a great program called Adopt-A-Grandparent which provides a Christmas/holiday gift set to elderly people in the Harper Mills Nursing Home (formerly Heartland Nursing Home). This gift set would include two great lotions, one for the hand and one for the feet, and would be perfect for both men and women.

There are currently 155 people in Harper Mills and the cost of each gift set is $20 (which includes tax, gift wrap and delivery).  There would be a tag on the gift saying that it came from you.

She has set the deadline for this project for Sunday, December 6th.  If you are interested in helping her, she can be reached at 304-253-1425. Let’s not forget those in the nursing homes who may not have someone to show them God’s love.

Feeling Charitable in the Fifth Season

by Rev Robert A Wendel

Everyone knows that the earth has four seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall.  To the Christian way of thinking, there is a fifth season, the season of charity which happens every November and December.  Of course, this special time of kindness is directly linked to our Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  We hope that each person or family sits down to a fine Thanksgiving feast and later has some presents under the Christmas tree, creating a feeling of food cheer shaped among family and/or close friends.

Such a wish or blessing, for all souls, does not come easy.  In each community there are food drivers of all types by young and old, specially prepared meals in church kitchens, community meal sites, hospitals, long term care facilities and anywhere our watchful military is on duty during the year’s last two months.  Even Scrooge gave his bookkeeper, Bob Cratchet, the day off from work.

Maybe now would be a good time to remind ourselves of just how much need there is in our city.  Let’s begin with a particle tally from Beckley Day of Hope, a community event held here in mid-August;  Guests: 2,599.  Hot meals: 3,800.  Groceries; 4,200 bags.  Shoes:  1,215 pairs.  Health screenings:  1,055 and Helping Hands reports these totals for the month of September.  Households served:  801.  Totally family members served:  1,597.  Food: 747.  Clothing:491.  Emergency needs: 26.  New clients: 53.

A letter published in the October 12th issue of a national weekly news magazine may say it best:  “We need to stop marginalizing people who struggle.  So many people live pay check to pay check.  These are regular people who have fallen on hard times.  They are parents whose  child sits with your child at lunch, the unemployed dad you see at the Laundromat, the mom struggling to wrangle her small toddlers through the grocery store, the disabled elderly person or the homeless vet sitting on the park bench.  I can tell you these people just need a little compassion, a little tolerance and a little help.”!

In a wealthy, blessed congregation such as ours, each Fifth Season of the year, it would be wise for all of us to mind what Jesus said “To whom much is given, much is required.” (Luke 12:48)  “We are to use our wealth, time, talent and knowledge to glorify God and benefit others.”  (I Peter 4:10).

Beckley’s American Baptist Men Enjoy Breakfast at 8:00 am

In October, 28 gentlemen from our church, the Fellowship House and the Crab Orchard Fellowship enjoyed another great breakfast and a brief moment of inspiration “Notes on the Lord’s Prayer.”  Guys, please join us for more of the same at 8:00 a.m. on the second Saturday in November.

Another Way to Lend Support to Helping Hands

If you shop at Kroger and have a Kroger card, which I’m sure most of you do,  here’s a simple way to support a great organization. Kroger has partnered with Helping Hands to donate approximately three percent of your total bill  and here’s how you help.  Simply register your card or sign into your account.   Once that’s done, click on the Community link, then community rewards and enter the words Helping Hands in the search box.   Look for Helping Hands Community Resource Center, click on the dot next to Helping Hands Community Resource Center, hit enroll and that’s it.    If you need a hand completing this, call the church office and we’ll be glad to walk you through it.