Monday, August 31, 2015

Ministry Update: Summer 2015

Oh my gosh - I love summer.  So much fun.

Summer kicked out with our Association's Bible Camp the first week of June.  We had a glorious time, despite the grey cool weather that made swimming a little less fun.  I taught Missions, emphasizing on European Peoples and helped in Crafts.  We took seven kids, three of whom are unchurched having only visited our church a handful of times.  One of our kids professed faith at camp, which is such an answer to prayer!  God is faithful!

Worship through song: 

Worship through the word:




At the end of June, we held our Vacation Bible School.  Our best year yet with 27 total in attendance.  I write our own VBS in an effort to save money and to make it effective for us.  As a small church with limited resources, the boxed VBSes often aren't a good fit.  This year we had a super hero theme which the kids really loved!  I'm thinking about a pirate theme for next summer, you know - our treasure in Christ or something like that.

 I'm always so excited during VBS, then kind of depressed afterwards when we don't seem to "catch" those kids for a normal Sunday service.  But the Lord is using it to teach me to trust him with results.

A mere two weeks after VBS, we hit the road to Fort Wayne, Indiana to join our friends in Kentucky on mission trip.  It was an exhaustingly joyful week.  Here's a breakdown of the mission trip:

- 35 teenagers, 29 adults, 1 baby, and 1 dog
- 5 churches representing 5 states: KY, IL, IN, MO, and OH
- Painted one barn and one church
- Put siding on one church
- Built one ramp and a set of stairs
- Passed out about 1400+ flyers for various VBSes and BYBCs
- Passed out about 1000+ bottles of dish soap with a "Jesus washes away sin" flyer
- Led 5 Back Yard Bible Clubs
- Weeded one prayer garden
- We put 1500 miles on the church van

It was a great time and I feel like our youth really grew that week.  I'm super proud of them.  Since we're a small church, they already serve a lot out of necessity really.  But to see them do things they are uncomfortable with and do it without complaint, excelling at it - was awesome.  Pray for the people of Fort Wayne, that the seeds we planted would be watered and grow into faith in Jesus. I'm so thankful that our KY church home lets us tag along.  It is my goal that one day maybe we can do our trip, either as a church or as an association.

While we were in Indiana, our adults worked along others in our association at the Lewis County Fair: face painting, balloon animals, the wordless book, salvation bracelets, etc...  Honestly, the fair was kind of a bust.  Horrible weather kept attendance low.  But overall, obedience in ministry is the measure of success, not numbers.

July was a month of benchmark anniversaries in our church.  The Briscoes celebrated 60 years being married!  The Lillards celebrated 50!  We had a surprise party for them with tiny wedding cakes so they could recreate their wedding day.

July 12th was James' 37th Birthday.  We celebrated in style with a "rectangular cake with stripes" as per Hudson's instructions.

August 13th, our association went to the MO State Fair to serve at in the Evangelism Ministry.  In total for the two weeks of the fair, 31 people accepted Christ as their savior.

The second weekend in August, I was in charge of organizing an evangelistic block party as part of our Annual Meeting (see below).  It was held at FBC Ewing and we had a great time.  It took a lot of preparation and organization with some frustrations along the way, but all in all I'm counting it a success.

Here at the end of August, we have our association's Annual Meeting.  It's basically a big business meeting - blah.  But the Friday night before, is always a worship service.  This year we were super blessed to have Pastor Frank Page, President and CEO of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention as our special guest.

This last Sunday was promotion Sunday at church.  Three darling kiddos promoted to the next Sunday, including Hudson!  He was so weird getting his certificate - completely surprised.

Also, this summer we had a Southern Gospel Trio - the Calvary Road Trio - lead us in worship on a Sunday evening, which was a treat.

I realize that these ministry updates often focus on children/youth ministry because that's what I do.  But James has been busy as well.  He's preaching through Mark on Sunday mornings and recently finished Ruth on Sunday night and is now in Nehemiah.  Sadly, he's preached a couple of funerals this summer, but in an older community that's just part of it.  He's actually really good at it which I consider a gift because I feel so awkward and such at funerals.  He continues with his monthly nursing home ministry, which again is something he excels at.  We joke that I am good with kids and he's good with the elderly so together we're a good team!  Hospital visits, home visits, generally sharing the love of Christ with whomever he sees all the while doing sermon prep for three services keep James really busy.


- We have a new family of four (soon-to-be five) attending our church.  It's super encouraging.  They have a daughter Hudson's age and they are hilariously cute together.

- Little D, who is 9 years old, is asking a lot of questions about becoming a Christian.  It started during VBS.  She knows all the right things to say, but is still rather stuck on baptism, so we're taking it slow.  I got her this book recently and am hoping it helps her understand even better.  Pray for her sweet heart - her parents aren't believers.

- Mr. N, one of our trustees, is recovering from back surgery.  He's wowing everyone with his strength and determination! #WilliamstownTough

Prayer Requests:

- Donna and Ken our new Preschool Teachers.  Hudson and Anna Grace will graduate from the nursery at the end of August.  So Donna and Ken (a married couple) have agreed to be our new preschool Sunday School teachers.  Bless them, they have never taught before.  Can you say, trial by fire?  Here's hoping H and A are sweet little 3 year olds who make teaching a delight.

- Our youth:  Summer is a great time for youth ministry because they are out of school but it's also a frustrating time because our kids are getting older which means they get cars and jobs and we don't see them much any more.  There have been many Sunday mornings where our youth group class was vacant.  Pray for them.  I understand the need of a job, but it's a difficult balance between work, school, and church.  While we don't want to be legalistic about church attendance, we do want to see some more commitment.  The struggle is real.

- Little Bridget.  Sweet B's grandparents attend our church.  She's had a tough little life and is only a month older than Hudson. She has been diagnosed with liver cancer and is under treatment at the Children's Hospital in St. Louis.  The tumor is shrinking, but she's got a long road ahead of her.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Welcome to Lewis Co, Missouri!
We heard recently that there's a new phrase being said in neighboring towns about our sweet community: Williamstown Tough.

It's typically spoken, referring to the many old-enough-to-retire farmers who are still farming.  They refuse to sell the farm and move to greener, pastures.  They are Williamstown tough!

It is true.  James excels at nursing home minsitry and not long after we moved here, he commented on the lack of men in the nursing home.  There simply aren't many of them residing there.  Why? Because they all die on the tractor, then their sweet wife will sell the farm and move into assisted living or whatnot.  They are Williamstown tough!

But it's not just the men.  Ladies, too!  Aunt Maxine, at age 95, still lives at home alone and don't you dare mention the nursing home.  Mrs. Mable, at age 83, just now stopped mowing her own yard.  Mary Ann, age 70, helps her husband Jim, age 74, work the farm every single day: feeding cows, driving tractors, bailing hay, whatever needs to be done.
Hudson feeding a bucket calf with Mary Ann

Norman has suffered with chronic back pain for years.  Doctors basically refused to do surgery due to his age and have had him on an ever-increasing dose of pain meds.  Just less than a month ago, he finally talked his doctor into doing surgery.  Guess what they found when they opened him up?  He had a broken back!  He had been walking around, farming no less, with a broken back for years!  A broken back people!  He is Williamstown tough!

But this toughness does not stop with work ethic and physicality.  It also has spiritual implications.  We're learning that agrarian cultures are very independent and often agnostic.  You'd think working with nature would be led to an understanding of God.  But the truth has been exchanged for a lie and so many of our neighbors are simply not interested in hearing about Jesus or his church.  They are do-it-yourself people who honestly feel they can earn their way to heaven with their ethics.  It is heartbreaking.

Looking down State Hwy E in Williamstown - all abandoned buildings

Corn, corn everywhere

Providence Baptist Church

We have decent numbers at our church.  We average around 30 for Sunday School and 40 for church, which is impressive in a community of less than 100 people.  But there are so many here that don't know Jesus and don't care.  Perhaps because it is a small town and we've had the chance to meet every single person, multiple times, in our almost 3 years - our heart breaks for our neighbors who are lost and dying.  We know and love these people.

Pray for Williamstown.  Pray for our community - that they will not be so "tough" but be humble enough to admit their need for a Savior.  Pray for us as we minister to them, that we will point them to the Creator of all things, the One True God who is not impressed with their toughness
but desires their faith and trust. 

Thankful for this reminder of God's promise!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Serve in Your Church Nursery

This has been on my mind lately.
I have hesitated writing this post because I fear it will come off as preachy.  But maybe it needs to be said.

Brothers and sisters - serve in your church nursery.

We are a small church.  Other than us, there are only two other families with small children.  I and two other ladies rotate nursery service on Sunday mornings.  It works well for us for the most part.

Recently, we were at another church for a function.  Hudson is glaringly three: energetic, fun, sweet, sassy, fiercely independent, annoyingly vocal, and generally all around exhausting.  We had traveled to get to this church function, which is never a good idea with a three year old.  It had been a long day.  Hudson did well during the worship through song, because he loves singing.  My three-year-old knows all the words to Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.  No joke.  It's his favorite.  Anyway, when the preaching started, Hudson started as well:  standing up, sitting down, "Why are you shushing me, Mama?", and so on.  I had never been in this church before so I had no clue where the nursery was.  I entered the lobby to entertain Hudson and after a few minutes a sweet older lady came to me and asked if Hudson would like to go to the nursery.  Sure!  She walked us to the nursery, turned on the lights, and left.  My heart deflated.  Now, I know her question wasn't a volunteer to take him to the nursery, but I had been hopeful.  Hopeful she'd offer to stay with him.  Hopeful she'd offer to stay with me!  In the end there I was, in the nursery, playing grocery store for the duration of the service.

Now, I know her lack of helping in the nursery likely wasn't intentional.  She just wasn't thinking.  And that's a problem - we don't think of others.

I love my son, as all mamas do.  But you know what? Mamas who love Jesus sometimes need to hear that Jesus loves them from someone other than the Bible CD playing in the church nursery.

That said, I encourage you to serve in your church's nursery.  Befriend the Mama with the kids.  Even if she doesn't want to leave her kids with you in the nursery, offer to stay with her.

See this face?  The cuteness saves him most days.