New Year… New Beginnings

by Pastor Doc Adkins

God can make the impossible possible. When God told 100-year-old Abraham that he and his 90-year-old wife Sarah that they would have a child, Abraham dropped to the ground in unbelieving laughter at such a ridiculous idea, and Sarah joined him in the laughter (Genesis 17:15-17; 18:10-12). But it happened.

When an angel told the young Virgin Mary she would have a baby to be named Jesus, she asked how that was possible. The angel’s answer: “With God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:26-37). And it happened, Jesus was born just like God said.

He is saying that to you, too. Do you remember the time when a man brought to Jesus a little boy who often foamed at the mouth and fell down, sometimes into water or fire? This distraught father told Jesus, in effect, “I brought the boy to your disciples, but they couldn’t help us.” But Jesus could!

When the man said to the Lord, “If you can do anything…help us!” Jesus replied, “Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:17-23).

Our Lord said almost the same thing to his disciples at other times (Matthew 19:26 and Luke 18:27). And everyone who believes in Christ is his disciple and can trust him to help in seemingly impossible situations.

Faith and prayer are the keys to making the impossible possible—even though the process can be very slow and even if our faith is very small. Jesus said that faith as tiny as a mustard seed—one of the tiniest seeds on earth—can move mountains (Matthew 17:20).

When you face an impossible situation, remember:

“God is my strength and power” (2 Samuel 22:33).

“With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

“We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).

“God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

As we begin a New Year together maybe it’s time to break old habits, barriers and busyness that seem always to slow down our spiritual progress and journey.  Maybe a “New Start” is the right thing for you and me.  Let me suggest….

  • the need for better Bible understand: Sunday School
  • the need to more worship: why not Sunday evening or Wednesday night Bible study
  • the need to trust God more: try tithing
  • the need for broader circle of friends: Men’s fellowship or Ladies Aide Circles
  • the need for more family time: Church brings families together under one roof

Christmastime is here!

Christmastime is here! I don’t know about you, but I wait patiently all year for just this time: the lights, the music, the cheer in the air, the goodness swirling all around people because of the season…it’s all quite amazing. The splendor of well thought out Christmas lights atop a beautiful house can make anyone fall in love with the season, but too often I’m afraid we celebrate the season instead of the reason. More times than not, we get too caught up in the lights, music, presents, food, etc. that we forget why this time of year is so significant.

Christmas is special for all people, no doubt, but as Christians and followers of Christ, we MUST remember why this season is so important and we must put celebrating the birth of our Messiah above all else. Without the gifts, music, lights, and everything else…we would STILL have Christ and that would be enough. That’s the fact of it, but how would we respond in that situation?

Pastor Doc tells us time and time again that “God is enough”, but do we believe that?? And if we do, are we making that belief evident in all of our ways? We see people spread goodness and kindness throughout the Christmas season, but why does it have to stop there? We, as Christians, should be spreading joy and hope and love to all people during all of the year…not just when the music makes us happy or the lights brighten our mood.

This Christmas season I encourage you to share joy, hope, and love: share the joy that Christ has given you, share the hope that He buried in your heart, and share the love that He covers you with and will extend to anyone that believes in Him. Let’s do our part in putting CHRIST back into Christmas!

Grace and Peace,

Ryan Haddox

Adopt-a-Grandparent 2017

The Adopt-A-Grandparent Program has become so successful because of your generosity. This program 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. Please make checks payable to First Baptist Church with a note on the memo line “Adopt A Grandparent”. There will be a tag on the gift saying that it came from you.

The deadline for this project is Sunday, December 10th. If you are interested in helping with this project, contact Ann Coleman at 304-253-1425.

Let’s not forget those in the nursing homes who may not have someone to show them God’s love.

A Final Word on Operation Christmas Child 2017

Well, shoeboxes for 2017 has come to a close and what a year we had. We started collecting items in January and items were gathered all year long. Items such as crayons, soap and washcloths, small toys, coloring books and school supplies. Each month I emptied our collection boxes and the pile began to grow. Then came November and our youth gathered one Sunday evening and packed 100 shoeboxes with the items that you donated.

Collection week started in a huge way with over 1,100 boxes collected on Monday. The rest of the week went along and each day we collected shoeboxes from all over the Beckley & Raleigh County area. Saturday morning, we gathered, along with some help from the men of the Fellowship House, and we packed a truck and a church van and down to Princeton we traveled. Praise God we got there and back safely. But that’s not the end of the story.

We collected more boxes on Saturday afternoon, Sunday and Monday and I made my final trip to Princeton with this precious cargo (along with the paperwork) which is the part of the process that is not my favorite but anyway when all was said and done, we not only met our last year’s total of 3,151 but we topped it and just in case you haven’t heard, our final total was 3,440.

I would like to thank each of you for all your help this year. Whether you packed a shoebox, brought in some items all year long, worked in the collection center, helped load a carton or just prayed for this project, you are all truly awesome. We could not have accomplished this enormous task without your help. Please continue to pray for these shoeboxes as they start their journey and eventually find their home in the hands of a child somewhere in the world who will learn firsthand the name of Jesus Christ. May you all have a blessed Christmas.

From Humbug to Hallelujah

by Rev. Robert A. Wendel

“Be strong and courageous and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to (Christmas) is finished correctly.” (1 Chronicles 28:20, New Living Translation adapted).

“God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. We are God’s ambassadors and God is using us to speak to you.” (2 Corinthians 5:19-20, New Living Translation).

Christmas comes but once a year. Right. We celebrate Christmas on December 25th, designated as the birthday of Jesus. But, as we all know, merchants in America have managed to turn a single day’s event into a whole season, beginning about November 1st and lasting almost until New Year’s Day, January 1st.

The Church calls the weeks before the 25th of December Advent. In the business community now there’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday, all geared toward sales and profits.

For times like these for the Christian Church’s part, it and its leadership want you and I to be nourished by God’s divine love. Our natural response should to ‘to love and care for others.’ When holiday fatigue dulls our senses and makes our inner spirit numb, we need to rekindle our compassion, remembering that our Heavenly Father’s gift of forgiveness came to us all in the form of a babe born in Bethlehem.

This Christmas, like never before, let God’s love move you from humbug to hallelujah and reignite and uplift your sense of charity, care, compassion and hope.

A short story by Francis Patrick Sullivan ends:

“She got up from the pew, wondering if she had put enough in the offering plate as it went by her. Near the church portico against a pillar and totally covered in rags, was someone holding a handwritten sign. The sign said “I am hungry.” The woman put a handful of paper money into the sign maker’s collection jar and said “I am not!”

Thanks for Packing the Pulpit

Our thanks to all of you who helped pack the pulpit during the month of November. The response was overwhelming. With the cold weather now upon us, the need for food, blankets and winter coats is always a necessity. The needs of our community always grow during the winter months so your donations are greatly appreciated. We also thank all of you who volunteer throughout the year. Your help is a true blessing. Please keep this ministry in your prayers as we continue to serve the Raleigh County area.

ABW December Update

by Norma Gunter

Thanksgiving is over and we, wives, mothers, daughters, grandmothers (all women) enter into the most busy season of the year. The first thing in December at FBC is the Retired Ministers and Missionaries Offering, our fourth and final American Baptist Churches USA offering this year. Our ministers and missionaries have given their lives to serve the Lord and this offering is a little over and above gift at this time of the year. My good friends, Rev. Bill and Cora Withers are gone now but this offering brings back to me memories of their service to the Lord and their friendship. Bill sang at my dad’s funeral and Cora went to nursing school with me. I still miss them.

The last Sunday in November I met a visiting older missionary couple, on my way to the elevator, who worshiped with us in the morning service. They said they minister with struggling churches and plant new churches across the US. They are working now with a struggling church in Florida. We never know who we are worshiping with.

When talking to Joyce Mills recently she suggested you might like to know more about the missionary we support, Debbie Mulneix’s, new role. She was planning to retire in 2017 but was offered a new job with ABC USA International Ministries. The following article is from “Mission Matters In The Mountain State” Fall 2017 issue from The Office of Mission Support of the WVBC.

“Debbie Mulneix has been asked to take a new missionary role. As a regional missionary to Asia and Southeast Asia, she will work with Leslie Turley and Ben Chan to strengthen relationships with partners in the region. Debbie’s main responsibility will be to provide training to churches in Asia and in the US to send volunteers and short-term mission teams to enrich this cross-cultural ministry experience and to prepare their hearts and skills to become global servants.”  She will also assist the two area directors in providing care and service arrangements to their special assistants, volunteers who regularly travel to specific countries to help with programming and projects, A unique part of her new responsibilities will be to organize small groups to accompany her as she visits each partner. These Groups may be educational groups or work groups, as is appropriate at the time.”

Last week I received a letter from Debbie where she shared about her new job and plans she has. She wrote, “I am so pleased to announce that I have begun my new role as Regional Missionary for Asian Partners. The great thing about the change is that the job is relating to the people I have been working within the past, plus several additional groups! Each time I travel overseas, I plan to take a group of volunteers to meet these partners and experience what it is like to be a Christian in a foreign country. If you have never gone to another country on a mission trip, or if you are starting a new passport because there are no more Visa stamp pages, I would love to have you join me in a trip. There are several of us working on these “Friendship Mission Trips” and we already have 6 planned for 2018. I cannot do this alone. I need people to come alongside me: to partner with me and the rest of the teams in sincere prayer. I’m also asking families to be involved through financial partnership.” This would be a great opportunity for someone from FBC to go on a mission trip.

Well another year is almost gone. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the American Baptist Women of FBC.

Backpacks at Beckley Elementary

Our backpack program here at FBC has been a true blessing to the children of Beckley Elementary who take home a backpack filled with food items for the weekend. This is a sad but true reality of the times that we live in that these children when they are not in school sometimes go hungry. Your contributions this year, both in food items and money, have been greatly appreciated. Also a special thank you to all of you who help to fill our backpacks each week and taking and picking up the backpacks. You are a vital part of our backpack team.

We are also doing Christmas presents for some of the children who might not otherwise have much under their Christmas tree. See Helen Greene if you can help with this project.

For the month of December, we will be collecting plastic jars of peanut butter. The dollar stores are a great place to shop for these items. They can be left on the back counter of the kitchen.

As always, please keep this program and these children and their families in your prayers as we enter this holiday season.

His Story is Out of a Timeless Book!

by Pastor Doc Adkins

..Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy… Luke 2:10

Yes! It surely is a marvelous story! Since it is getting closer to the Christmas season, I have been thinking a lot about the Christmas story. I have read through several portions of it from the Scriptures for years and every time I read and reflect on it, I am in awe all over again. We all know the feelings and emotions we have when we re-read a much-treasured book or even watch a movie that we love all over again, but when we read the Christmas story straight from the Scriptures it is much more powerful and has much more of an impact than what mere man can come up with to entertain us. Even when we act out the Christmas story for church plays and programs, it pales next to the actual words of God. Even Hollywood with all of its special effects could not reenact the Christmas story as our Almighty God saw fit to put each detail into place. Here are a few of the aspects of the marvelous story that enriches my soul.

How about when Mary encountered the angel?

And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35 Just think what a life Mary must have been living to be in the right place in her life to be chosen to bear God’s Son. Do you think you’d find her gossiping at the village gate? Do you think she was mean and nasty to people? Do you think she hurt people with her words? Do you think she was lazy? Do you think she was a liar? Do you think she overlooked a prayer life and fellowship with God? Wow! How close her fellowship with God must have been. I know that there are denominations that worship Mary, but sometimes others go way the opposite and don’t recognize her at all. I think she needs to be talked about more. She was God’s chosen vessel. The Bible says in Luke 1:28, And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

Another aspect of this marvelous story that I always enjoy are those shepherds out in the fields.

Luke 2:8,9 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

Now, I must admit I don’t like anything that goes bump in the night. I don’t know why but my eyes just don’t seem to focus quickly in the dark. What must it have been like to be out there with those sheep, in complete darkness and have the “glory of the Lord” come down on you? Whew. How exciting. And then to top it all off—here come the angels!

Luke 2:10-14 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you, Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

I could go on and on with more parts of the Christmas story that I love. Each aspect is so amazing how everything came together and prophecy was fulfilled. What a journey the wise men had and what emotions and joy that Simeon must have felt when he finally saw Jesus. What a marvelous story. This is not fiction but true events in history. This story is out of a timeless Book, the Bible. I’m so glad that God doesn’t ever update His version of His Book. It stays the same just like the God who authored it. Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever. In all of your preparations for Christmas, take the time to read and reflect on the Christmas story straight from the Scriptures. You’ll be blessed. My suggestion is that you read the entire chapters of Luke 1 and 2 and Matthew 1 and 2.

ABW November Update

Do you ever wonder what the lives of our American Baptist International  Missionaries are like? Last month I shared with you about our young missionary family, Denise and Juan and their two young children that arrived in Mexico and faced two earthquakes in the first days of their mission work.

Since they arrived their son, Juancito, celebrated his 7th birthday and Juan  also celebrated his birthday.  Pictures on Facebook show Juancito’s new skateboard. and them riding new bikes.  They are enrolled in school there and they look happy.

Another ABIM, Susan Hegarty, tripped and broke her right ankle October 12th.  She has pictures on Facebook of her in the hospital in San Jose, Costa Rica.  The X-rays show a plate and pins.  She is now receiving physical therapy.  Her teenage daughter, Katherine, is in high school there.  They recently went through hurricane Nate that was one of the worst storms to hit San Jose.  There was heavy rain, mud slides,  flooding, closed schools and highways.

She said the recent rains brought back memories of when she had to change a tire back in June in heavy rain.  She had most of the lug bolts off when a lady stopped and had her son change the tire.   She said the incident brought back another memory when her father made his children learn to change the oil and change a tire if they were going to drive.

Susan was in WV for Camp Global in 2008 where Lonnie and I got to visit with her.  Juan and Denise were there also.  They had only been in WV a short time.  The last time I saw Susan was two years ago when I went to Costa Rica for my 80th birthday.

Another ABIM, Ray Schellinger, on October 13th, wrote on Facebook about his  recent visit to Deborah’s House In Mexico where he met with two volunteers who go to Deborah’s House for a week each year since 2007. Their skills as an electrical engineer and a chemist are used as they built stairs, a deck, wired the workshop and the new educational building, the sewing center and much more.

While there Ray met with a group of the women, around the dining table, where they discussed the Bible story of the Samaritan woman at the well.  He said, “the Samaritan woman was longing to be in a place where she would be protected.”  He told the group,  “They came together at a home dedicated to becoming a place where all who needed it could find safety.  This is where God meets us in our need as we search for grace, and this is where God offers a  fountain of living water, welling up from within.”  My trip to Deborah’s House opened my eyes to the needs of abused women.

These are some of the stories about the lives of our missionaries. As you can see these missionaries need our prayers and support.  Give to the World Mission Offering.