Monthly Archives: May 2022

Faithful Servant of Christ

If you have ever served here at God’s Appalachian Partnership, you have probably met Mary Poole. In her own right, she is a legend around here. She was never one to talk about herself but her life story is one amazing journey of faith!

Mary was born August 30, 1935 in Pennsylvania and was soon placed in foster care never knowing her biological parents. As a young teen, she was sent to a family that fostered many kids near Philadelphia, PA which became her home. There she was introduced to the Gospel, accepted God’s salvation, and grew up in the Mennonite Church. After graduating high school, she sensed God directing her to missions so she decided to do a 2-year assignment of VS. VS in the Mennonite denomination stands for “volunteer service” and refers to a mission program where Mennonites go for a period of time and serve without pay.  During her first VS term, she discovered she wanted to serve others by being a nurse. After that first term, she went to school and graduated as a Register Nurse and decided to serve another 2-year assignment of VS, this time as a RN.

A small hospital in McDowell, KY was in need of nurses, so Mary Poole and another Mennonite VS lady was sent to serve for 2 years. Mary completed her first term, but the need for nurses was so great that she signed up for another 2-year assignment in McDowell. When those 2 years were up, Mary had fallen in love with the people and decided that she was not leaving. That first 2-year assignment at this little hospital ended up turning into a 49-year career.  

God had called her to missions and she was a missionary. She took numerous mission trips both abroad and locally. Her heart for the lost took her to Hatti, Ukraine, Brazil, Russia, Iran, and Israel just to name a few places. She also traveled in the US responding to natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornados in order to minister to hurting people. Mary traveled the world but her heart was for the people of Floyd County and Appalachia.

For years when she still worked at the hospital, she always made sure one of her “off days” was distribution day at God’s Appalachian Partnership. Mary faithfully served the local community through GAP. God used her to share the Gospel with hundreds of people at GAP which resulted with numerous people accepting God’s call to salvation. She gave her time and resources to anyone who was hurting or in need. Christ’s love and compassion flowed through her to others.

I know no other person that exemplified Matthew 6:3-4 so well, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Mary gave and helped so many people without asking for anything in return.

Mary was a faithful member of McDowell First Baptist Church where she sang in the choir, was member of the WINGS group, and actively served Christ. For many years, she served as a director on the board of GAP.  For 57 years, McDowell, KY was Mary’s home. However, on March 14, 2022, the Lord called Mary Poole to her eternal home in glory. The Lord ushered her in and said, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

Just a week before her passing, Mary called me and asked me to stop by her house. She had made 20 loaves of banana nut bread for me to freeze and give out to our families during distribution. Even though she was not physically able to be at GAP anymore she was still giving to our families in so many different ways.

There are two ways you can give in memory of Mary Poole if you desire. Since nursing was one of her loves for 49 years, the McDowell Appalachian Regional Hospital, McDowell First Baptist Church, and God’s Appalachian Partnership have partnered together to offer a Mary Poole Memorial Nursing Scholarship to a student from Floyd Central High School who is pursuing a degree in nursing. Mary’s other love was the ministry of God’s Appalachian Partnership. Mary gave countless hours and resources to GAP serving the community. She so hoped to be here to see GAP move into a distribution/office complex on the new property. Although this was not God’s plan for her, you can contribute to the building fund allowing GAP to continue serving families for future years. Please email your donation in memory of Poole designating which you would prefer.  

New Ministries on the Horizon

God’s Appalachian Partnership is excited to announce that we plan on launching two new ministries this fall: free dental clinic and after-school tutoring. Both of these are in response to great needs in our area.

A few years ago, we had the privilege of partnering with a mobile dental unit and local dental professionals to host free dental clinics. We were overwhelmed by the need for oral healthcare in our region. We only had access to the mobile dental unit once a year which meant about 30-40 appointments in one day. However, we received hundreds of calls from people who needed to come to the dental clinic.

After much prayer and discussion with a group of local dental professionals, we began envisioning what a free regional dental clinic would look like in our area. God began to move and dentists that were retiring decided to donate their equipment to GAP instead of selling it. Plans are in motion to convert one of our buildings on Elk Ridge into the Dental Clinic. Please lift this ministry project up in prayer as we seek permits, begin the remodeling phase, and the necessary funds to complete these tasks as well as purchasing the other required dental items for the clinic. We are projecting the clinic to be open by this fall! What an exciting way to meet people at their point of need and share with them the love of Jesus Christ!  

We are just as excited about our second new ministry for 2022. Prior to Covid-19, families, especially grandparents and great-grandparents who were raising kids, shared with us how difficult it was for them to help their children with homework. Covid-19 and a shift toward virtual learning increased these difficulties. After much prayer and discussion with key local partners, GAP will be offering after-school tutoring for children.

Due to a lack of space at our current facilities, we are partnering with Floyd County Fiscal Court and McDowell Senior Citizens to hold the tutoring at the senior citizens’ building in McDowell. We are also partnering with the Floyd County Public School System. Tutoring will be one day a week and we will offer a hot, nutritious meal, tutoring, and a Bible story. We plan to infuse art and music into the sessions also. Our target audience will be just across the road at the Left Beaver Townhouses.   

We are excited to see how the Lord is leading us in these two new ventures. Please pray as we prepare spaces, make plans, seek volunteers and the financial resources needed to begin these new ministries. We look forward to having two different avenues to meet people at their point of need and share with them the love of Jesus Christ!

Easter Event 2022

For millions in our culture, the word Easter brings to mind images of colorful eggs, baskets full of candy, and chocolate bunnies. God’s Appalachian Partnership has been seeking to transform our community’s view of Easter by holding an annual Community Easter Egg Hunt called Hunting for the Truth. Although the ministry event has age appropriate egg hunts, the focus of the day is to share the true meaning of Easter, Jesus is Alive!

This year’s event was held on April 2nd with 283 registered participants and 85 volunteers from 7 different churches. We had a wonderful attendance after not being able to have it for the last two years due to Covid-19. One family said, “We look forward to this every year. When the kids saw the banner hanging a couple weeks ago they got so excited. It gets us all out of the house and doing something together. Thanks to everyone who puts this together!”

As always, the day was filled with 7,500 filled Easter eggs, music, games, food, inflatables, lots of fun, and the Gospel. This year, when children and families rotated to the Truth Pavilion, kids were given their own bag of Legos. Then using Legos, the Gospel was vividly explained to the children and their families. Volunteers used the Legos to create a tree, giraffe, heart, and cross to present the Gospel story. An older man who said he believed in God overhead a volunteer sharing the Gospel with a family at the Truth Pavilion. He spoke up and said he had never heard some of those things before and wanted to know more about this Jesus!

Later that afternoon, a grandmother came up to one of our male volunteers and thanked him for talking to her grandson about the Lord and his need to continue growing in his faith. It meant a lot to her because her grandson lacked a positive male role model in his life.

It was a wonderful day of ministry. We are grateful for the many volunteers who came and served alongside of us for the day and the many other partners who supported us through prayer. The Lord blessed and we are grateful for everyone’s partnership in ministry! May we continue to proclaim, “Jesus is Alive!”