Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ministry Update - Winter '16/'17

And just like that, we've been in eastern Kentucky for almost 6 month.  Here's what's kept us busy this winter.

December started with the church's annual Christmas Dinner.  It's a catered affair, quite unusual from the typical Baptist potluck.  The best part of the day was that James went and got Brian to enjoy the meal with us.  Brian is a church member who is in the local nursing home due to Huntington's Disease.  He has a very sweet testimony of coming to faith in Jesus.  Back when he was healthy, he was instrumental in the church's visitation program.  Because everyone knows and loves Brian, if he showed up at your door with the pastor people would let them in.  Today he is not able to do that, but is still such an encouragement. 

December also meant Christmas Play!  This year our children, youth, and a few adults put on The Christmas Guest.  If your like me, you'll know this story from Grandpa Jones on HeeHaw.  It isn't the traditional Christmas play with shepherds and angels, but it is a sweet reminder to always be aware of ways you can serve Jesus by serving those people he places in your path.  See Matthew 25:35-40 for more information.

Hudson recited a 3 stanza poem from memory at the Christmas Play.
I was very proud. :)

One of the blessings of being in Eastern KY is living just 2 hours from Hudson's paternal grandparents. 
They came to the Christmas play.  It has been great to make up for lost time with them.
 Our church assembled and gave away fruit and candy baskets around the Christmas holidays as well.  We put together 14 baskets in total.  James and I had had the honor of delivering 5 of them.  They went to both church members and unchurched neighbors: shut-ins, families grieving, unemployed, etc...  Everyone was so thankful for such a small thing.

The church also participated in a local nursing home's angel program - we purchased presents for 20-something nursing home residents and delivered them to their Christmas party.  Our church goes to the nursing home once a month to provide desserts and to just visit and encourage the people there.

After Christmas, we had the children and youth over for a party.  We had 7 kids in all and it was a wild time for sure.  Lots of running around, playing, eating, etc... 

Love these kids. And the big one, too.

At the end of the year, our sweet church member J married her sweetheart B.  They are a sweet couple who both love the Lord dearly.  We are very excited to see what God has in store for them.

In January, we started a New Believer's Sunday School class.  It was open to anyone really: new believers, old believers needing a refresher, those interested in learning more.  In total there were 5 students plus the 2 teachers.  Everyone I have spoken to was so blessed by this class.  We have had one salvation come from this class, we're just waiting for him to make it public! We plan to do one for children/youth as a one-day Saturday retreat. 

This is the curriculum we used.  It is one of 6 books.  It is excellent!

In January, James began teaching about testimonies on Wednesday night.  Church members have worked diligently and prayerfully preparing their salvation testimony and practicing it.  His goal is to make people more confident in sharing what Christ has done for them.  The eventual goal is a monthly visitation program as a church to go into the community.  That will come later, of course.

The first Saturday in February, we had a Girls' Day Out.  E and myself took 3 girls to Mona's CafĂ© in Pikeville for lunch (it was super yummy) and then had a Bible study on the book of Ruth.  The goal of the study was to explore God's definition of beauty.  It's not what you look like, by the way.  We ate, did a craft, studied Ruth, and laughed a lot!  We hope to make this Girls' Day Out a regular quarterly activity.

That first Saturday was also the Men's Prayer Breakfast.  13 men and Hudson met at church to eat, pray, and encourage one another.  James was kind enough to bring some sausage biscuits home for me and it was delicious!


Mid-February, the ladies at church met for a potluck lunch fellowship and to watch the movie War Room.  If you haven't seen it, it is a must.  Several ladies have mentioned to me personally that our church needs some kind of mentoring among our women.  So please pray for us as we seek the Lord in how to accomplish that.

Throughout January and February, our WMU collected Handbags of Blessings.  These are new or gently-used purses filled with hygiene products.  We are going to deliver them to a local women's shelter the first Friday in March. So far we have collected 15 purses and a bag or two of miscellaneous hygiene products.  You'll hear more in my Spring Update after we visit the ministry.

- We are pretty much settled.  We've been here for almost 6 months.  Major stuff is done: drivers licenses, residency, etc... 99% of the boxes are unpacked and put away (there are a few rogue ones around), and we are fairly known in the community (it always feels like home when you see someone at Walmart whom you know).
- Winter is almost over!  It can be such a dreadful time: cold, little sunshine, general ick.  However, God is still God in winter.
- Our local elementary school has agreed to let me send home flyers about upcoming events at church.  This is huge!  I am so thankful.  Hudson's grandfather played Santa for the preschool's Christmas party and Hudson was a homecoming attendant so I feel like we have made ourselves part of the school family fairly well.  It is a wonderful way for James and I to minister to the community.

- Repairs at the parsonage have made life more enjoyable:  new gutters (yay for not getting rained on at the back door), plumbing issue (yay for new more sewer smell after showering), and a new heating element thing (yay for heat).  So thankful for a church that takes care of its property.
- Benevolence.  Our church does a lot of benevolence.  This past month, we went over our budgeted benevolence by 50%.  It was questioned at business meeting and the explanation of an urgent need arose for a church member and we met it was given.  And you know what?  Everyone was thrilled.  So happy that our church had the means to help those in need. Meeting needs so we can point people to Christ is part of the church's role.

Prayer Requests
- Looking ahead to Spring, we have a lot planned.  Trip to the women's shelter, Spring Executive Board Meeting, Portraits for a new Church Directory, Youth One-day Retreat before Easter, Easter, Church Easter Egg Hunt, and some new Bible Studies.  Whew - busy times ahead!
- Mr. M - through our New Believer's class, he has dedicated his life to Christ and has talked to James about baptism.  Pray for him as he makes that decision public to the church.
- T - T is not a believer and unchurched.  I (Melissa) met her through school as her son is in Hudson's class.  Pray for both of us - me as I share the gospel with her and for her heart to be open.
- Sickness!  So many people are or have been sick.  James, Hudson, and I have all been sickly this winter at various times.  School has taken 3 days off due to sickness and our church attendance has been down due to illness as well.  Come on, spring!  We need to get outdoors and away from these germs!
- James, as always.  Being a pastor is a tough job.  It's more than just preaching (though that is the most important).  He visits people at their homes, in the hospital, etc...  There is a lot of counseling with people on various issues and generally knowing what people are going through and guiding them biblically to handle it wears on you emotionally.  Pray for him (and your pastor) to have endurance to serve the Lord well.  Mondays, in particular, are difficult.

He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,' and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour.'
Job 37:6

Until spring :)