When it’s warm, it’s hard to think about Christmas

by Debbie Vanaman

As summer is now upon us and the weather is turning warmer by the day, I know it’s hard to think about Christmas and shoeboxes but this need goes on around the world 365 days a year.  Children who live far from Beckley, West Virginia every day are learning, some for the first time, about the love of God and the name Jesus.  We here at First Baptist have been involved in this program for well over 10 years and most of you I would say are very familiar with the name Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child but just on the off chance you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the short version.

You take a trip to the dollar shore and you pick up pencils, pens, crayons, coloring book, personal hygiene items such as hair brushes or combs, soap, washcloth, a small stuff animal and a small toy.  Then you find an empty shoebox and put all these things in them and the week before Thanksgiving you bring it back to the church with a shipping donation this year of $9.00 (this is an increase from previous years due to shipping costs rising dramatically) and that box will eventually find its way around the world to a child.  You have a second option of checking the bulletin or this newsletter each month that tells you a particular item or items that we are collecting.   Then the beginning of November our youth gather all of these items and they fill empty shoeboxes on a Sunday evening.  They really get a kick out of doing this.    Last year we collected enough items to do 100 shoeboxes.  This year I hope it’s more.

Anyway, that’s what Operation Christmas Child is all about.  Please consider being a part of this ministry to spread the name of Jesus around the world to children and eventually to their parents, families and the towns that they live in.  It’s one small way to bring love to a child.

Remember – you can change a child’s life through the power of a simple shoebox.

Another School Year is Behind Us

by Helen Greene

Another school year is behind us and we are preparing for the upcoming 2017-2018 term. This year we have served 24 children every week with two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, a loaf of bread and a bag of snacks.  Due to a $300.00 grant given to us by New Vision Telephone Pioneers we were able to purchase a pair of new sneakers for each child in May.

To help us restock our food supply,  please bring jars of peanut butter in the month of June.  Donations can be left on the back counter in the kitchen.  Many thanks to each person who donated money, food or your time volunteering to make this a very successful year.  This project could not have been a success without you.

Minister Abroad: Dusting Off Seminary Notes

by Rev Robert A Wendel

I feel fortunate to have earned my M.Div. degree from Princeton Theological Seminary after completing three years of on-campus studies and being taught by a world renowned facility which included Bruce Metzger, Bernhard Anderson, Seward Halter and Seminary President James McCord.  On June 4th as we celebrate another Pentecost, here are some of my notes from Dr. McCord’s sermon-like classroom lecture: Easter Hope, given in Stuart Hall during the Spring of 1979.

“The meaning of biblical history is justification by faith and forgiveness of sins.  Is this not true of our lives as persons?  Being a Christian means that our past, with all its burdens, is canceled when our sin is forgiven, and that God opens up a new future filled with fresh possibilities for us when he justifies us by faith.  We know the experience of being freed through God’s redeeming grace.  It happens to us again and again when we confess and are forgiven.

God is able to overcome our mistakes and create new opportunities for building a world that is just humane and more in accord with his intention for his people.  Easter is a guarantee of all this.  The Easter event began when the Word became flesh, when God and (humanity) were united forever in Jesus of Nazareth.  In this act God took our future upon himself and at Easter life triumphed over death for all eternity.

Easter represents the triumph of light over darkness, freedom over bondage, hope over despair and life over death.  It is the miracle of grace that enables us to rise above the perils of today and to become witnesses and partners in God’s work of making all things new (Acts 2:37-42).

St. Pauls’ great statement on the resurrection includes a doxology: “But, thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  However, he did not stop there.  In the light of the resurrection every human being is set free to serve the living God.  So, Paul concluded “Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for your labor is not in vain in the Lord (I Corinthians 15:17.)”

As President McCord told us students many times, “I cannot think of a better definition of Christianity than that ”give, give, give.”

Upsy Daisy

by Pastor Doc Adkins

Psalm 30:1 “I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up…”

I’m sure you are familiar with the expression “upsy daisy”. It’s a phrase I have heard most of my life and yet for whatever the reason it seems forever ago since I actually have heard it. But, the other day, I saw a grandmother with her little granddaughter or maybe even great granddaughter and the beautiful little gal evidently had just learned to walk. Actually, she was doing pretty well but, it wasn’t the walking that seem to be the challenging thing…it was the stopping. As soon as she  stopped …down on her little bottom she went and immediately Grandma, in that Grandma assuring voice proclaimed, “upsy daisy”. And you know what?  The beautiful little girl laughed out loud. You see “upsy daisy” is the phrase we use when we want to give encouragement to our children when they are learning to walk or when they’ve had a fall.  It means “up you go”.

I think that God does the same with us.  We go walking along in our Christian life and hit some bumps in the sidewalk or maybe we even fall into a big hole and God helps us up and says, “upsy daisy”.

He brushes us off and tells us everything is going to be okay.

It’s not fun when we are down and we find our lives turned upside down.  It’s sometimes hard to see everything in the right perspective when we aren’t standing upright.  But we have a God who cares about us and is there when we get down and He helps us up.

There are some great examples in the bible of some people who had some “upsy daisy” moments.

I think of Job first and foremost. I guess because when he went down, it was with such a sudden force and a big thud.  Here he was, going through life so blessed by God and all of a sudden, Job was laid low.

So much happened to Job in such a short time but God was with him all the way and in the end said, “upsy daisy, Job”.

Job is such a great example to show that when we don’t see God, God still sees us.

It’s like when a toddler falls down and doesn’t see his mother because she’s out of site for a little bit while he’s lying on the ground after he’s fallen.  It’s kind of scary.  But then after a few moments when he sees the face of his mother and knows she’s there to help him up, he’s okay again.

Job might not have been able to see God but God could see Job and Job knew God was still there within reach.  What’s worth remembering is that even though he couldn’t see God, Job still obeyed God.

Job 23:8-12  Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him
On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:

But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined.

Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

It’s so exciting to see how God said, “upsy daisy” to Job.  The Lord had a way of showing Job that all was okay.  God lifted up Job and put him upright on his feet once again and “the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10).

And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.

Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and everyone an earring of gold.

Job 42:10-12a  So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning.


Maybe you feel like your life has been turned over on its head and you are feeling the pressure of an “upsy daisy” moment.  Just hold on. God knows you are down.  He’s not far from you.

I know it’s hard to be thankful for those “upsy daisy” moments in our lives but don’t you just love the fact that it is God that does the “upsy” part.  It is Him that lifts us up.  It may be through several circumstances that work together but God has His hand working in all of it.

There has been many a moment that I’ve wondered why I’d been brought so low but those are the moments that I’ve seen God the closest and had to rely on His encouragement the most.

If I just look around for Him and listen to His voice I know He’s there even when I’m down and I know I can get through anything when I have Him with me.

God has that way of giving us His presence and saying, “upsy daisy”. It’s all going to be okay.  You’ll get back on your feet again.  Up you go!

So, are you thankful for your “upsy daisy” moments?

Our Response is Clear

by Joyce Mills

Our response to the poor, hungry, hurting and destitute is clea5.  Conscience and compassion only lead to one conclusion…. We must help!  Together we can be part of the solution.  Here’s how you can join hands with us in the Backpack Ministry.


Educate yourself about the plight of the poor, what life is like for those in poverty.  Become an advocate.    Share what you learn with friends and family.  Talk about the issues and solutions with those of us involved with the Backpack Ministry, those in business and our community.

Even though school will be out in late May this year, we need to continue to PRAY, ENGAGE and DONATE to the Backpack Ministry during the summer.  If we do these three things, we will be ready to help again when school starts in August. If you’re in a position of influence in your job or industry, your company might contribute non-perishable food items towards the next school year.  We take any amount of money you might like to donate.  Our estimate for each child is around $35 per month.  We will end this school year serving 24 kids. If you do the math, you can see it is a bit costly.

We are a 501c3 tax-exempt organization.  Donations and contributions are tax-deductible as allowed by law.  Make your check payable to First Baptist Church and designate it for the Backpack Ministry.  Also, each month we will continue to ask for a food donation.

For the month of May bring enough cans of Vienna Sausage to fill the long, wide shelf in our panty.  Just put it on the back counter in the church kitchen.  We appreciate your support to this very worthy mission project.

Glow Kids Ministries Happenings


  • Sunday School@9:45am! (3rd Floor)
  • Children’s Church every Sunday morning after Sunday School! (3rd Floor)
  • Glow Night every Wednesday@6pm! (4th Floor)


  • Sunday School@9:45am! (3rd Floor)
  • Children’s Church every Sunday morning after Sunday School! (3rd Floor)
  • Glow Night every Wednesday@6pm! (4th Floor)

Illuminate Ministries Happenings


  • Youth Group Sunday Night@6pm 4th Floor.
  • Sunday School @9:45am! (4th Floor)
  • May 20th OPEN GYM Crescent Elementary School!
  • NO CHURCH May 28th on Sunday Night!


  • Youth Group Sunday Night @6pm 4th Floor.
  • Sunday School @9:45am! (4th Floor)
  • NO CHURCH June 18th on Sunday Night!
  • Carowinds Trip – Date To Be Announced

Operation Christmas Child – Growing for 15 Years

by Debbie Vanaman

This ministry has grown in the 15 years that we here at First Baptist have been involved.  In our first year we took in roughly 700 shoeboxes and we were excited about that.  For the last two years, we have received over 3,000 shoeboxes and excited doesn’t even begin to express how we felt and for this, I am extremely grateful to the people of Beckley and the Raleigh County community who gave a shoebox.  The need worldwide to show the love of Christ through the power of a shoebox grows each year.

We here at First Baptist have been collecting items on a monthly basis so that in November our youth can share in this ministry on a Sunday evening and create these gifts for children around the world and this seems to be working well.

For the month of May, we will be collecting small hairbrushes, combs and girl’s hair bows for our shoeboxes.  Donation boxes are located in the Welcome Center and at the top of the ramp in Fellowship Hall.

Please keep this ministry in your prayers daily as shoeboxes are distributed around the world spreading the name of Christ to children and their families.

Minister Abroad: Starting Over

by Rev Robert A Wendel

“Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gifts each of you has received.  After you have suffered for a little while, the God grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will, himself, restore, support, strengthen and establish you.”  (I Peter 4:10;5:10 NRSV)

In the world of televised sports, instant replays have become ordinary.  Viewers and officials can look at plays, shots, tackles and even horses and automobiles or punches over and over again.  So, I moved out of Beckley to Waynesburg, sure that I would be able to, successfully, replay some of my college experience of 40 years ago, remaining what the M&M Board calls ‘a wondering minister’.

In exactly four decades, Waynesburg has changed and ‘my college’ is now a larger university.  Many of my college professors and well-known staff have died.  But, Miller and Hanna Halls are still the center of campus and downtown is still lined, on both sides, with familiar stores and shops.  It feels good to return to First Baptist Church and sense that I will again be able to use my God-given gifts to help, teach, counsel or encourage others in this community.

We all know that it’s really impossible to start over.  In the now-or-never battle of priorities, the secret lies in taking care of life’s biggies now – today or tonight.  You remember the old Sunday School song “Brighten the Corner Where You Are.”  We are each called to use our unique abilities to “make our world a better place.”

As you look at Beckley First Baptist and the neighborhood and community where the Lord has planted it, there is no need to ‘start over’.  The old church still stands.  But, as Jack Hayford wrote “Begin again.  The Lord calls us (no matter where we are), to return to those things which His Word teaches and which release the power of His presence among us.”

I will always be thankful for the years I spent among you all happy that some of my skills and education were sometimes put to good use and my observations on church life were allowed to be expressed.  But, just as the Lord expects more from me, He wants First Baptist Beckley to meet its future challenges.

ABW May Update

by Norma Gunter

American Baptist Women’s Ministry Focus for May 2017 is See…How God Sees You. On the sixth day, after creating humankind in God’s own image, God looked at all creation and saw that it was very good.  Does God still see it as very good?  God sees the widening gap between the rich and the poor.  God sees our wars.  God sees us helping and hurting, blessing and cursing.  God sees us loving some neighbors yet pretending we don’t see others.  God sees the love in our hearts but also our prejudices.  How does God see you?  How does God see your church?”

Did God see you Sunday night April 23 at the service where our newest West Virginia Missionary Juan Aragon shared about his families new assignment to Chiapas, Mexico?  Juan is from San Marcos, Nicaragua.  San Marcos is the town where my first mission work tour began and where I still keep in contact with a family there by Facebook.  Juan has served West Virginia Baptist well, working with the Spanish speaking people as our West Virginia Baptist Hispanic Ministries Strategist.  He and his wife Denise will be working with Keith and Debbie Meyers, another missionary family, we support here at First Baptist Church.  Please pray for Juan, Denise and their two children, Juancito and Ziba.  They hope to raise their support and be on the mission field this fall.

Ladies did God see you Saturday, April 22 at the Spring Rally at Breckenridge Baptist Church?  The theme for the meeting was “FEATHERING THE NEST” and the speaker was Donita Brush from Sparrow’s Nest, a place where women who are battling addiction can recover.  Another place that needs your prayers.

Lizzie Lewis Mission Circle ladies, God saw you as you tore the worn sheets into strips, sewed them together and rolled them into bandages for the hospitals in Africa.  He sees us as we collect quarters for good behavior for Weirton Christian Centers children and the many other projects the American Baptist Women of the First Baptist church does.

I could go on and on with the ministry of the women here at First Baptist Church.  As you can see God sees the work being done here but there is a lot more we could be doing.  We need every woman to help.  You can do something.  If you can’t join a circle you can give to the projects and pray.  Prayer is our biggest need.