New Year. New Projects.

by Norma Gunter

Ladies start now to make plans to attend the American Baptist  Women of West Virginia annual conference June 5-7 at Parchment Valley Conference Center, Ripley, WV.  The theme for this year is “A Time to Serve and Thrive.”  Look up Jeremiah 17: 7-8 the conference scripture.  Lisa Simmons will be the Inspirational Speaker and Bible Study Leader.

American Baptist Women’s Ministries is starting a new year, 2015, with new projects.  Our Mission Outreach Project (MOP)  is a Chicken and veggie  project for our American Baptist missionaries in central Mexico, Keith and Debbie Meyers.  The kick-off for this project will be at the Annual Women’s Conference at Parchment Valley with CHICKEN SHIRT SATURDAY June 6th.  Purchase or make  a chicken shirt to wear that Saturday.   It costs $125  to provide one family in Mexico with chickens, chicken feed, and material to fence them in.  It also provides material for a vegetable garden.  The goal for West Virginia American Baptist Women is $6,000.  Maybe someone at First Baptist would like to sponsor a family.

The Special Project for 2015 is a truck for Parchment Valley.  There is a desperate need for a truck for the Maintenance Department.  This truck will benefit Parchment Valley Conference Center for many years as they prepare for various camps, conferences and meetings all year.  The goal for West Virginia American Baptist Women is $12,000.

The 2015 Love gift goal for West Virginia is $120,000.  Ladies we did not meet our goal last year.  So let’s keep counting our blessings and filling our purple Love Gift Boxes and together we can meet this new goal.

Our FBC ABW has again lost one of our precious members, Eugenia Sevy.  She attended the Lizzie Lewis Circle each month as long as she was able, even coming to our meetings with her faithful caregiver.  When I visited her in the hospital,  Wednesday April 15,  she had a lot of questions about my mission trip in January to Costa Rica. She said she prayed for me while I was gone. She died on Friday April 17. She will be greatly missed.

On May 30, 2015 the Raleigh Baptist Association Spring Rally will be here at Beckley First Baptist Church.  The meeting will be followed by a luncheon.  All women are invited to attend.

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.

A Great Lady Who will be Missed

by Norma Gunter

Last month the ABW lost one of our precious members, Pearl Marie Lyons.  Marie put up a courageous fight for many years.  Since her husband, Ben, passed away we have supported each other, especially after Lonnie died.  She not only supported me but many of the other ABW ladies.

Marie was always faithful to attend and take part in our circle meetings.  She loved her church, the members and loved missions.  When her health started deteriorating, late 2012, and she couldn’t come to church or attend our ABW circle meetings several of us friends would take food & have lunch with her at her home.  She would give me money for mission projects and would send her ABW offerings to the meetings with Helen Jackson.  Last fall she shared with me about a grandson who had been to Nicaragua on a mission trip to some of the places I had been.

For months, while she waited for a house next door to her daughter to be finished, a friend stayed with her until she herself got sick.  During this time Marie was giving us, her friends, her belongings. Clothing, purses, jewelry, etc. was given away.  She was the most giving person I’ve known.  She was an avid reader and shared a lot of her book collection with us.

When she moved to Fayetteville we made several trips to share a meal or just visit.  The little log house, located in the woods, was delightful.  There was even a little loft.  I took pictures of the house to show my grandson who would some day love to build a log cabin.

Before Christmas we visited her at the health care facility in Oak Hill.  When I visited her, for the last time, at Raleigh General Hospital, she told me about the youth from the church who came over there to sing Christmas carols.  She also told me to tell everyone hello and to tell them she was doing about the same.  She asked about friends who were sick, still worrying about others.  That was Sunday after church.  On Monday I learned she had been transferred to Hospice House.  On Tuesday I received the call that she was gone.  She is in her heavenly home, free of pain, walking the streets of gold, praising our Lord and waiting for us to join her.  She will be missed.

ABW January Update

by Norma Gunter

As we enter a new year I’ve been looking back at some of the things that  happened in 2014. I was thrilled when I saw our ABW Christmas tree on the stage in Fellowship Hall.  It brought back so many memories of the year we collected the purple ornaments.  Sue Jones made a lot of the ornaments, some cloth covered.  My daughter, Marcie, wrote the names of the different  ABW missions, in white, on purple ornaments.  Thanks to those who put the tree up and has protected it all these years.

The ABW White Cross gifts of the heart project was a success.  The final report was in the church bulletin on August 10.  With the help of the children’s Bible School offering twenty school kits were provided to Church World Service for needy children around the world.

The USED STAMP ministry has also been a success.  On January 15 I sent a request to Alliance Stamp Ministry for information about saving used stamps for missions.  The first batch of stamps was mailed on March 12.  Three other mailings have been mailed since with a total of over two pounds of stamps.  I received a thank you note which said, as of November, $36,000 dollars has been sent to the Sunday School Project for Spanish speaking people. Thank you to all those who have helped with this project. Keep saving the used stamps.

The new ABW White Cross projects for 2015 include money for Burundi and South Africa.  We also have Hand Work requests, Home and Overseas Mission projects which I will share later.

Please remember me and my sister in your prayers while we are in Costa Rica later this month.  Our plans with Susan Hegarty, our American Baptist International Missionary, and her daughter Katy have been finalized. They are here in the states for Christmas but will be back in Costa Rica before we get there. It will be great to work with her again.

ABW December Update

by Norma Gunter

My love of missions has emerged again.  My sister Carrie and I are making a mission trip to Costa Rica in January for my 80th birthday.  We renewed our passports and now have our plane tickets but haven’t finalized all of our plans.  We will join a team from New Jersey when we get there.  We will be staying at the CEDCAS Clinic in San Jose.  This will be my sixth trip to Costa Rica and Carries’s first.

When our teams from FBC took mission trips to  Nicaragua, back in the 90’s, we always stopped in Costa Rica on our way home.  Our last trip there was in 2003 when Lonnie and I went to San Jose for the dedication of the new CEDCAS clinic.  Since we were there they have added a third floor to the clinic for the mission teams to stay.

CEDCAS stands for “Center for health education and health services in Spanish”.  The clinic is a non-profit org. founded in l985 and our first trip  there was in l994.  At that time Lillian Solt was an Associate Missionary with the American Baptist International Missions.  She is still a missionary with LAM “Latin American Mission”.  Lillian and her daughter Rebecca are both RN’s.  Rebecca was about 6 years old on our first visit to Costa Rica.  Rebecca was married earlier this year.

CEDCAS works with four major programs:

1. Medical/dental clinics:  They offer a wide variety of medical and dental services at a reasonable price.
2. House of Health:  A program focused on prevention, programs with different age groups such as children, teenagers, women and the elderly.
3. Communities:  They work with different communities helping them by working with groups of women, programs with children, micro-enterprises to help improve their economic and nutritional situation.
4. Volunteers:  They have programs to help people (like me) to step out of their comfort zones  and become the hands and feet of Jesus in another context.  Our group will be working in the squatter community of Guarari where there are over 400 kids and their families.  Most of these are refuges from other Latin American countries like Nicaragua, Honduras, etc.

Their MISSION is helping people become healthy.

Their VISION is to promote Godly, excellent, affordable, whole person health care, becoming the hands of Jesus, bringing people to Him.

Also in San Jose is Susan Hegarty and her daughter Katy.  Susan is our American Baptist Missionary and has been here at FBC several times.  We stayed with Susan on our first two trips to Nicaragua in 1994 & 1995.  She has stayed in our home several times.  The last time I saw her was at Camp Global about 4 years ago.  We want to visit and possibly work with her while we are in Costa Rica.  That is one of the plans we haven’t finalized about our trip.

The Beckley Register Herald had an article, Sunday November 23rd. on “Business leaders battle human trafficking” bringing to light,  like our American Baptist missionary Lauren Bethel who shared the global problem of human trafficking with us at FBC Oct. 27th.  Phil Parvin, chairman of our Mission Board, seemed quite impressed with her and her work and shared at the Sunday morning service, Nov. 23rd., about what a great job she is doing internationally .

She also made quite and impression on everyone who heard her speak.  She spoke in the morning at the Mug Muffin meeting, the Lizzie Lewis Circle at lunch, the Raleigh/Greenbrier Assn. meeting and the Fayette Assn. meeting in the afternoon.  Before leaving town she had dinner with a group from FBC where one lady said they had a good meal that was enjoyed by all.  Other ladies shared with me their feelings when she spoke about her work.  One said she was impressed with how faithful she has been over the many years to helping these young women.  Another lady said you can feel her heart and her love and caring for these women and girls.  Another said she admired her for her sacrifice of her personal life.  She has been passionate, since 1986,  sharing Jesus’ love and compassion with those trapped in the darkest corners of our world.  Pray for her and for all our missionaries around the world and for the World Mission Offering we are receiving now for missionaries like Lauren & Susan.   Pray for us as we finalize our plans for our trip in January.

ABW Mission and Service

by Norma Gunter

You who attend the Beckley First Baptist Church, have a great opportunity to help our GLOBAL SERVANTS around the world.  At this time the World Mission Offering, WMO,  is being received.  You can give generously (offering envelopes are on the back of the pews) to spread the gospel around the world.  International Ministries theme for the WMO is “Come over (numerous countries) and Help Us”.  When you give to the WMO you help to grow and sustain IM’s missionaries and global staff who serve in more than 70 countries worldwide.   Let’s rise to the challenge this year as we celebrate 200 years of missions, 1814-2014.

The American Baptist Women, ABW, fall rally Oct. 14th at the Breckenridge Baptist Church was a great success.  Joyce Mills, president of the Raleigh Assn., gave the call to order and the opening prayer.  Joan Clark, treasurer of the Raleigh Assn., welcomed us to the Breckenridge Baptist Church and Eula Stephens gave the devotion.  The business part of the meeting, roll call, minutes, treasurer report and reports from Personal Dev., Church and Community, & Mission & Service were given.

An interesting part of the meeting was reports on projects the different ABW’s are doing.  Our own Helen Green gave a great report on our backpack ministry.  The nominating committee gave their report and Martha Bennett is now President Elect of the Raleigh Assn.  Sharon Volpe, our ABW president, gave the offering prayer and sang a beautiful solo.

The women from our newest Raleigh Assn. Church, Sunset Hills Missionary Baptist Church, were welcomed to their first Fall Rally.

Joyce Mills introduced the guest speaker, Lisa Simmons, who is the Association Mission Support person with the WV Baptist Convention.  Lisa is a very inspiring speaker and to get us all involved she started out asking about funny things we have seen in church.  One was a pastors false teeth flying out during a fiery sermon.  She related to keep warm with a coal stove or floor furnace you have to stay close to the source of the heat and as Christians we have to stay close to God.

Eula Stephens, from the Breckenridge Baptist Church, was honored for her years of service to ABW.  I had the dedication prayer for the “Snacks For Hope” that the women donated for the patients at the Raleigh Regional Cancer Center.  We were blessed with a delicious lunch, as usual, by the women of the Breckenridge Church and I had the chance to thank John and Lisa Simmons for the great job they did with Camp Global.

The Raleigh Assn. Spring Rally will be here at FBC.  Ladies, if you have never been to a rally this will be the one to attend.  All  FBC women are invited to participate in any ABW meeting.

By the time you read this Lauren Bethel will have been here, Oct. 27, and I’ll report on her visit next month.

You are Invited!

You are invited and encouraged to come and meet Lauran Bethell who is a global consultant on Human Trafficking.  Her main goal is to initiate and encourage new grassroots projects addressing the exploitation and abuse of women and children, many of whom are victims of trafficking.  While based in The Netherlands, she travels extensively throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas, teaching, training and consulting.

On Monday, October 27th from 10:00 to 11:50 am the Joy Circle will be hosting a Mug and Muffin here at the church in Fellowship Hall to meet Ms. Bethell and listen to her presentation.  Bring your favorite mug and muffin and share in some fun, fellowship and facts.   Later that day at 3:45 pm the women of the Greenbrier/Raleigh Association will meet with Lauran in the parlor.   To conclude the day, we will meet at Pasquale’s Restaurant at 5:00 for dinner and fellowship.

If you can attend even one of these sessions, you will be truly blessed.

ABW Ministries Plans for the Fall

by Sharon Volpe

The Executive Board of the ABW Ministries met on Sept. 8th.   This was a fall planning meeting and we have several events coming up in October.   That’s right around the corner ladies!   So get your calendars ready!

Saturday, October 4th at Breckenridge Baptist will be the Raleigh Baptist Association Fall Rally.  Registration is at 9:30 and the meeting will start at 10:00.  We will be taking our church van and will be meeting at the church at 8:30 am.  Parking will be available on the college side of the church.  This is always a fun event and I’m hoping to have a large turnout. The speaker is going to be Lisa Simmons who is a very dynamic speaker and should be very interesting.

We are  asked to bring individually wrapped snacks to the meeting which will be going to the Raleigh Regional Cancer Center.  There are times when patients are there for treatment all day and they need these snacks. Each church was asked to briefly speak about a “special community service” that their church provides.  Our special service that we are highlighting is the “Backpack Ministry”.  Helen Greene and Joyce Mills will be making this presentation.

There is also going to be a special surprise presentation for recognition for 93 years of service for Eula Stephens.   This should be an exciting day for all ABW members.  Please plan to attend.   There will be a sign up sheet in the office for van riders.

We will be having an ABW general meeting on Tues. October 14th at 6:00.  Dessert refreshments will be provided.  Each of our officers will be giving a brief comment of their office and their duties.   The devotion will be “Come To The Table” by Karen Nicholson of First Baptist Hurricane.   This will be presented by our officers.  Please come out and support our ABW ministries.

Also don’t forget Women’s Day at the West Virginia American Baptist Convention.  That will be Thursday, October 16th at the Vienna Baptist Church.    

So you see ladies?  We have a very busy month ahead of us.  It’s time to get up, get out and give God the Glory!!!

ABW October Update

by Norma Gunter

The Special Project, for 2014, Moorefield Hispanic Ministry is the other ABW project  I mentioned last month.  Back in 2005 the ABW Special Project was to provide seed money to hire Juan Aragon as the Hispanic Ministries’  Strategist.  He is now a permanent West Virginia Baptist Convention professional staff member.  Since then the church in Moorefield has become a field ripe for harvest.  The goal for this project is $15,000.  This money will be used to help fund a missionary and other outreach programs of the church.  Moorefield is a community with a large Hispanic population.  Through the ministry of Comunidad Luz y Vida (Light and Life Community Church) they have the opportunity to reach out for Christ to immigrants.

In the West Virginia Newsletter 2014 Annual Association Edition, Juan Aragon said, “Love removes the prejudices that hinder us from reaching those unlike us.  Love compels us to care.  In West Virginia we have been given the privilege to join God in what He is doing in the lives of Hispanic immigrants. These are women and men who have come to the USA motivated by the need to feed their families, to provide shelter, to survive violence, to obtain a future that might not be possible at home.  As we follow and remain in Jesus may the spirit of love open our eyes to see and serve them.” May we give generously to this project.

A short report on my families trip to Camp Cowen for Camp Global August 27-31.  When my daughter, Marcia, heard about Camp Global she remembered her many summers at Camp Cowen and wanted her 13 year old daughter, Lauren, to have a camp experience.  So, along with her husband and my two sisters we headed to Cowen.  Camp Global was a Family Mission Camp with missionaries, international guests and Bible study leaders.  There were programs for all ages along with music, vespers, hands-on activities and good food.  The theme for the camp was “We are Unstoppable With God.”  My 13 year old granddaughter enjoyed the camp so much that she wants to come to the Family Camp in 2015.  Camp Cowen is our Baptist Camp located on the Gauley River in the Monongahela National Forest.

Saturday October 4 is the Fall Rally at the Breckenridge Baptist Church.  Lisa Simmons, Associate in Mission Support and Adult Discipleship with the  West Virginia Baptist Convention, is the speaker.  We have invited the women from the Sunset Hills Baptist Church, Coal City, WV, to join us.  The church was voted into the Raleigh Association at the last meeting.  Ladies make plans to come, enjoy a great meal and meet the new women and make them welcome.

The West Virginia Baptist State Convention Women’s Day is October 16, 2014 at the Vienna Baptist Church.  Make plans now to attend the “Women as Agents of Change” day at the convention.

September ABW

by Norma Gunter

My job as Mission and Service Coordinator is to communicate missions to my whole church and keep you involved.  In the last BEAM I shared about several projects the ABW is working on this year.  The first is the MOP (Mission Outreach Project).  The goal has been set at $6,000 for the state.

The MOP is “Tablets for Education.”  Missionaries Rick & Anita Gutierrez are American Baptist Foreign Mission Society Missionaries in Durban, South Africa.  Together they discern unmet health needs of the people and train members in health skills that can be used in concert with evangelistic outreach.

Their job is to train health builders using the latest technologies, like computer tablets, to teach.  On these tablets they show videos about health and agricultural practices as well as record keeping of health encounters and an updatable health training manual.

The videos are used by members of Discovery Bible Groups, which is established by each health builder.  The members of this Bible Discovery Group are learning God’s word together on a weekly basis.  Scripture passage are shared and discussed and the people are challenged to obey.  People have said they learned more about God and Jesus in one session of Discovery Bible Group than listening to hours  long traditional Zulu sermons.  This way of approaching the Bible is unique, powerful and can spread and sustain itself without professional or trained facilitators.  It is also an important way to teach and build skills.

Lives are changed when people encounter the God of the Bible in a discovery format, and embrace God’s word.  Rick and Anita need our help to purchase a video camera/sound equipment, tablets and money to produce videos.  They need to create videos on “poultry egg incubation for the backyard gardener” in Zulu/English professionally translated, edited and voice over.  The goal of $6,000 will meet their needs and strengthen this vital ministry among the Zulu people.

Next time I will share another ABW project.  Earlier this month one of the biggest celebrations in the history of International Ministries was held at our Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, Wisconsin.  The celebration was for 200 years of overseas Global Missions.  All of our global missionaries and their families as well as representatives from most of our global partners and a full bus load of West Virginia Baptists were there.  John Simmons, WV Baptist  Associate Executive Minister, reported in the “West Virginia Baptist Newsletter” that, “Those of us blessed to be there on opening night heard the packed house of l,300 sing HOW GREAT THOU ART, each in their own language. The tent was filled with the awesome presence of God.”  How I wish I could have been there.  I’ve been blessed with two visits to Green Lake in the past and hope to go there again.

If you do not receive the “West Virginia Baptist Newsletter” notify the church office.  Another magazine is “Seasons” a publication of American Baptist Women’s Ministries.  Both are filled with information.

Ladies, start making plans to attend the next ABW state event, the Spiritual Growth Retreat September 26-28 at Parchment Valley.  The theme is “Catching your Breath:  Discovering Your Sabbath.”