We all love the smile a gift on Christmas morning brings upon the face of a child. However, it is even more rewarding to see that child carefully and thoughtfully select a gift for their parent, grandparent, or guardian. It is a selfless act that teaches that child how it is better to give than to receive. Parents’ Store is a ministry event of God’s Appalachian Partnership where children ages Head Start to 5th grade shop for 2 adult family members, wrap the gifts themselves, and then take them home to give on Christmas morning. It is a joyfully heartwarming event where we are given the opportunity to present the true meaning of Christmas to the entire family.
This July we are hoping at least 4 churches/small groups will partner with us in this ministry event by participating in what we are calling Christmas in July 2023. Christmas in July 2023 is an opportunity for your church/small group to provide resources needed for this year’s Parents’ Store. We have created gift registries in which individuals or groups can purchase adult men and women gifts for the children to choose from. I wish I could express the care and thought each child puts into selecting their gifts. I can’t help but become just as excited as they are when their face lights up as they bring it to their family. Each year my heart is overwhelmed by the joy this brings to children who are faced with so many difficulties and challenges.
Will you stand in the GAP and partner with us this July? If you would like more information, about Christmas in July 2023, please click here.
We are excited to introduce our two summer interns. Zach Lawson is a member of Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC and has served at God’s Appalachian Partnership the last two summers on short term mission trips with his church. He is an upcoming junior at North Carolina State University majoring in Business. He arrived at GAP May 17th and will be serving as part of our team through August 4th. Zach is doing a wonderful job connecting to our families, ministering to children at the townhouses, and sharing the love of Christ!
Jhaughanessy Morris is a member of First Baptist Church of Pikeville, KY and has served at GAP with her family for the last 9 years. She is an upcoming junior at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Design. Jhaughanessy joined our team on May 15th and her ministry responsibilities include photography, design, Day Camp, and sharing the love of Christ!
Both of these young adults are doing an amazing job! Last week they led us as staff to have a Day Camp Preview event at the Left Beaver Townhouses. It was a great afternoon of ministry with 22 children in attendance. These interns are a huge blessing, not only to the ministry, but also to our community! Please pray for them as they serve this summer and grow in their relationship in Christ.
We are grateful for every person the Lord brings to us at God’s Appalachian Partnership. Several years ago, I had the honor of befriending a man named Walter. He came to GAP one day, bringing another man who usually rides his bicycle about 12 miles one way to get to our office. I soon discovered that Walter was a writer and used the name “The Hillbilly Poet”. Many of his poems and writings have been published in local publications over the years.
Our friendship has grown over the years, and he calls a couple times a week to share prayer requests, ask a question about the Bible, or just to hear a friendly voice. He and his wife live together in a small one room storage building which they have made into their home. They no longer drive and rarely leave except for an occasional doctor’s appointment. A few weeks ago, Walter called and said he had a problem and needed help. He and his wife are not people who ask for help lightly. Rats had invaded his little house, destroying his stove, electrical wiring, and several other things.
A mission group from Lawndale Baptist Church, Greensboro, NC, answered the call and met Walter’s need. They installed metal underpinning around his house, burying it between 5” to 7”. The couple were so pleased with all the team accomplished in just one day. Walter wrote a poem to express his gratitude. It was published in a surrounding county’s weekly newspaper. Thank you, Lawndale Baptist Church, for sharing the love of Christ! Below is the poem entitled, “Filling the Gap in the Foundation”, written by The Hillbilly Poet.
“The Poet had problems in his foundation leaking rats. God’s Appalachian Partnership sent a crew and repaired it in one day. The GAP director realized there’s no money in poetry, which sets the Poet free. The director didn’t make the Poet beg, but works for a generous God who shares the faith with people like the poor Poet. The Poet says God works through people and thanks God for Lawndale Baptist Mission Team who rescued him. We see God’s work in the people around us.”
The Lord continues to allow us to help families who were affected by the July 2022 flood. Since October 1st, we have hosted nine teams who have worked on rebuild. We have also given away new appliances, mattresses, bedding, cookware, etc. to numerous families. On November 2nd, we hosted a Walmart shopping day at the Pikeville Supercenter for 25 families. Each family was given $400 to send in the store to purchase things they needed for their homes. We had volunteers who served as personal shoppers that walked around with each family helping keep track of the amount of purchases and to share with them the love of Christ! This was GAP’s way of giving them a house warming shower as they moved back into their homes after the flood.
The families were so grateful for this shopping experience and many were moved to tears. One lady asked if she could purchase a Christmas tree for her family since they lost everything during the flood. She was so excited to be able to get curtains, towels, and the Christmas tree pictured above. She sent us this picture of it decorated in our newly rebuilt home. Who would have ever thought that a tree would have brought such joy to a family!
It has been humbling to hear how many of these families have never had a new appliance before the ones we have given them. It is also exciting to sit with a family and allow them to choose their own paint color for their walls, even cabinet color. Something many have never done before. Several are brought to tears and say that they have never had anything this nice. It gives us opportunity to share with them that it is the Lord who is providing all this because of how much He loves and cares for them. Thank you for partnering with us and allowing us to minister to these families. Please continue to pray for the many families in our region who are still displaced due to the July flood. This past week we had heavy rain and high water. Several parents have told us how their children continue to be terrified of the rain as the July flood has scared them. Pray these children will be healed and for their parents as they try to comfort them.
This past Christmas was the first time since 2019 that we have been able to have Parents’ Store and our families were so excited! When the children walked in with their family and saw our volunteers dressed up in various costumes it brought joy to their faces and broke down barriers that may have otherwise been difficult to break. It had been a hard year for all of us and the evening full of smiles, laughs, and great conversations was just what we needed. Each family heard the Gospel wrapped up in the Christmas story throughout the evening.
It is always a delight to shop with the children allowing them to pick out their own gifts for their families and to wrap them their selves. Some pick the first thing they see. Others have to look at everything two or three times before making a decision. And still others have a hard time remembering that they are choosing gifts for others not themselves. But are we not the same way!
Christmas Store almost did not happen if it was not for a few of our board members working some long hours one weekend. Judy (board member) and Phil Weaver from Orlando, FL and Dickie Edward (board member) from Barlow, KY worked diligently just a couple of days before the first Christmas Store setting it up. This year we were behind due to flood ministry and it seemed like an impossible task with just hours before the first store of the year. However, the Lord brought it all together.
This year we also added a new component to the Christmas Store which was new coats for each person. We installed lights and the clothing racks we built for the thrift store into one of our GAP trailers. We continuously filled the trailer with new coats and allowed our families to pick out coats after they shopped for toys. It was a huge blessing and another way to share with them how God loves and cares for their entire family. We are so grateful for those who sponsored children and partnered with us so we could share the Gospel this Christmas with many families through Christmas Project 2022. Thank you to Lawndale Baptist Church who ministered alongside us at the week of Christmas Stores, and volunteers from Paintsville FBC, Fitzpatrick BC, Prestonsburg FBC, and Grace BC who served at Parents’ Store. Please be on the lookout for how your church can partner with us at Parents’ Store this July through a new way called “Christmas in July for GAP”. Move details coming soon!
It is hard to believe that fall is here in the mountains but it is evident everywhere you look with the trees full of colorful leaves. The cool crisp mornings are a reminder that winter is just around the bend. God in all His splendor displays His majesty through creation especially during the changing of the seasons. Just as the seasons change, there are so many things in this world that are constantly changing. Yet we serve God, who has always been and who will always be. He is unchanging!
On October 8th, God’s Appalachian Partnership along with a team from First Baptist Church of Pikeville, held a fall festival at the Left Beaver Townhouses. This is an apartment complex where we had hosted Day Camps this past summer ministering to the children. The purpose of the event was to reconnect with children and their families while continuing to share the Gospel with them. 21 children and 10 adults attended the event and we had a wonderful afternoon of ministry.
The festival consisted of different games for the children and families to play, pumpkin station where they could decorate their own, craft station where they could paint a fall sun-catcher, cupcake walk, food and prizes. Pastor Keenan, who is the Student Pastor at FBC Pikeville did a wonderful presentation of the gospel using a carved pumpkin. The children and parents were so appreciative and thankful for the event.
As we were loading up to leave, a couple of the kids asked if we could come back next Saturday. Followed by, “When are you coming back?” As I type these words, those kids’ voices are heavy upon my heart. They just want to be loved. Many do not have a positive male role model in their lives. At their young age, they have already experienced far too much. So much hurt, pain and sorrow that a child should not have to deal with. Perhaps, you have ministered at Left Beaver Townhouses alongside of us before. You may remember these kids’ faces or one of them by name. Please join us in praying for them and this entire community. What they need is the Hope found only in Jesus Christ!
We are almost three months out from the July 28th flood that devastated eastern Kentucky. In the midst of all that has transpired, God has miraculously been at work! First, I praise God for you! God has used YOU, our prayer and financial partners to support us in ways that is indescribable! Your partnership has enabled us to sometimes be the first responder, the resource provider, the shoulder to lean on, for numerous families affected by the flood in our area. We continue to be able to purchase new appliances, building supplies, household goods, etc. to hurting families while ministering to their spiritual needs. Thank you for your generous and loving gifts that allow us to meet our communities at the point of their need and share with them Jesus!
Secondly, I praise God for the rebuild groups that have already came and who are planning to come in. Seasons have changed which means a change in temperature and a renewed urgency for rebuilding flooded homes. Our brothers and sisters from SC not only responded immediately by sending disaster relief (DR) teams for several weeks but one team has come back and worked on rebuilding the house they tore out. At least two other DR teams from SC have brought in needed household supplies and just this week the SC state DR office sent gift cards they collected at a state-wide DR training. Next month, another SC DR team will arrive to work on a couple houses they tore out. Dallasburg BC from northern KY was one of our first teams to come and help with rebuild. They will be coming back again next month. Smoke Rise BC from Stone Mountain, GA, FBC Mt. Vernon, KY, Lawndale BC, NC are just a few coming aside us helping with rebuild. Praise God for these who are willing to “stand in the GAP” and share the love of Christ with the hurting in our region.
There are many different ways we are ministering to families affected by the flood but one way soon will be through our Christmas Project for those with children. We anticipate a few more families than last year due to the flood so I would encourage you to consider sponsoring a child this Christmas Season. You can donate and sponsor a child by clicking the donate now button at the bottom of the newsletter or on our website and write in the memo Christmas Project. Each child can be sponsored for only $43. All gifts are tax-deducible.
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.
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!
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!”