Category Archives: The Footprint

In Memory of Marvin Paxton

Marvin Paxton from Lakeview, OH was a faithful partner of GAP for the last 7 years. Marv came to GAP the first time as the construction expert for his church’s mission team. After his first trip, God gave him a passion and love for the people in Eastern Kentucky and called him to missions. He approached GAP’s co founders, Lynn and Angie Wagoner, and stated that he wanted to come and serve alongside the staff of GAP for one week each month! The Wagoners were thrilled to have the generous help.

Marv made over 70 trips to GAP throughout the years building a wonderful partnership between GAP’s clients, GAP’s staff, and himself. His talents and passion as a “handyman” was such an asset to the ministry of GAP. He spent many hours working on GAP’s Dorema project. This ministry took old trailers and completely remolded them and sold them to clients through a low monthly rent-to-own contract. This enabled some of our clients to have good housing that they owned. He worked on several other projects from repairs on clients’ houses to the building of Servant Heart’s Lodge.

Marv’s enthusiasm for the ministry of GAP was inspiring to all around him. He used his talents and gifts for the glory of God. Marv even trained young men interested in the area of construction. He also served faithfully as a member of GAP’s Board of Directors until he had to step down last year due to health concerns. God used Marv to encourage the staff through his words and actions. He was a great example of God’s love through his actions, especially if you needed prayer. He didn’t simply say he would pray for you, he took the time to pray WITH you at that moment.

On October 12, 2014, the staff of GAP and three board members traveled to Marv’s church in OH for Sunday morning worship. We surprised him with an award thanking him for his years of ministry and faithfulness to the Gospel message.

Marvin Paxton passed away at his home on December 24, 2014. He was 73 years old. He leaves behind countless lives touched by his love and a legacy of faithful service to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The following poem was written by Marv. I had the honor of reading it at his funeral.

“Just A Little Prayer”
By Marv Paxton

Once there was a mother who prayed a little prayer
(For her children of course)
At age 35 her son gave his life to Jesus.
Just a little prayer.

Then that son prayed for his brother
At the age 52 he gave his life to Jesus
Just a little prayer.

That brother prayed for his children.
At age 30 a son gave his life to Jesus.
Just a little prayer.

Now this son has a godly wife and son;
Drives the church bus and helps with approximately 40 children at children’s church
Just a little prayer.

Now I know this to be true, because this was my mother,
My brother, myself and my son and his family

From this God’s Kingdom has increased
And the world is a better place.
Total cost of all this…
Just a little prayer!

(Click on the picture below to see more pictures of Marvin Paxton.)


A Simple Gift With An Eternal Value

The entire month of December seemed to fly by. God provided numerous opportunities to share the Gospel this past Christmas Season. I want to begin by saying thank you to all the generous donors and partners who made Christmas Project 2014 a great ministry event. Thank you to the many, many sponsors and for all who volunteered as personal shoppers and ministered alongside of us.

The Stephenson’s Christmas Store was open for five days this year. Most of the volunteers who worked this store came from different parts of our state and from different cultures than our clients. However, as the 415 client families came into the store this year to shop the walls of difference came down and relationships were built. As parents, we all want to pick a special gift for each of our children to open on Christmas morning. With that goal in mind, volunteers served as personal shoppers for each of our client families.

As soon as parents arrived at the Christmas Store they signed in and then they were greeted with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee and homemade cookies. As they waited for their appointment, clients enjoyed these refreshments and were engaged into conversation. Each family had a personal shopper that helped them find just the perfect gift for each child in their family and carried all their gifts out to their vehicle. Some families only had one child but others had as many as 10 children! The time spent with the clients at their vehicles was some of the most meaningful.

It was wonderful to see some of the expressions of excitement on our clients when they came into the Christmas Store. Many clients shared their deepest gratitude for this ministry event. It was an honor to let them know that it was God who provided all these toys for them to choose from because He loves them and cares for their family. We went on to share about the greatest Christmas gift of all – Jesus Christ and the gift of eternal life! When a client named Evelyn was leaving the store, she said through teary eyes, “Thank you, thank you, thank you! All my son wanted for Christmas this year was a bicycle and I had no idea where I was going to get one. Praise God!”

Sometimes we shed tears of joy and at other times it was tears of sorrow. Parents shared prayer request after prayer request and most of the time we felt ill-equipped to deal with all the pain and sorrow that our clients shared. However, we did the one thing we could and we took their request before our Heavenly Father. There were so many parents raising their grandchildren and even their great-grandchildren. One client had come to the Christmas Store the very first day it was opened and shopped for her 3 children. The very next day she lost all her material possessions when her trailer caught on fire. Another client had just lost her mother-in-law four days earlier. She needed someone to listen and pray with. This particular lady had already come for her scheduled appointment the week before but she stopped by to let us know about the death of her family member. It was at that moment of trying to minster to this lady that I realized GAP is much more than just a place to get things. GAP had become family to some of the clients. We had become their church family.

On December 18th we had our annual Parent’s Store. This ministry event allows children to choose Christmas gifts for two parents. This year the children were so excited to see some new faces. We added several special Christmas costumes to this ministry event that our volunteers wore. The excitement on their faces when they met back with their parents with two wrapped gifts was priceless! Once again this event focused on the real gift of Christmas. Parents and children watched a drama that informed us all about the true purpose of Christmas.

We added a new event to Christmas Project 2014! In years past, GAP has always delivered toys to parents in several low-income housing apartment complexes in Floyd County. However, this year we took the Christmas Store and Parent’s Store to one of these complexes. In partnership with a mission team from SC, we contacted a one day ministry event at Warco Apartments. In the afternoon, we had scheduled appointments for parents to shop for their children.  Later on we set up a Parent’s Store and allowed the children to shop for their parents. In the evening we held a community Christmas party which included games, music, puppets, devotional, and ended with a birthday cake for Jesus!

The purpose of all these events was to share the Gospel message. I would like to ask you to continue praying for all 415 families and 1,117 children touched by Christmas Project 2014. Pray that each time the parents see their children play with these toys and when the parents see the gifts their children gave them that they will be reminded of God’s love and salvation He offers them. Pray that He will use these gifts for His glory and purposes! Once again, many thanks to generous donors and dedicated volunteers who made Christmas Project 2014 such a great success! Thank you for giving a simple gift that could have an eternal value!

(Please click on picture to see more pictures of Christmas Project 2014.)DSC_0540

A Christmas Legacy

How one man’s passion for the Gospel inspires The Christmas Project

Bill & Peggy Stephenson

Bill & Peggy Stephenson

Christmas is always an exciting time at GAP. Bill Stephenson’s presence at the Christmas Store made it all the more exciting. Bill came to share more than toys, although he was ready and willing to help any parent. His goal was that everyone would leave the warehouse knowing Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation. Bill was adamant that he take the bag of toys to the car. That gave him a chance to talk in a calmer setting than the sometimes noisy warehouse. No one in Bill’s care left without prayer. At least ten parents made professions of faith as a result of his faithfulness to share.

Bill’s passion for winning the lost was not exclusive to GAP. He was actively involved year round in a truck stop ministry as well as Haven of Rest  and supported PEL (Praying Effectively for the Lost) Ministries. He served as a deacon at Union Baptist Church.

The memory of Bill’s example still inspires our volunteers today. Two years after the tragic murder of Bill and his wife, Peggy, it is impossible to think of the Christmas Store and not think of Bill. His name and face has become synonymous with the Christmas Store for those who witnessed him in action. At the time of his death, the family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to a fund that would be divided among Bill’s ministries. Even after his death, Bill continued to give to the Christmas Store, providing many gifts for the children with the portion of donations given to GAP.

Last Christmas we wanted to do something to honor Bill’s dedication and to remind us all that we need to carry on his passion to reach the lost for Jesus. The Christmas Store has always been housed in the GAP warehouse. Today we proudly display the warehouse’s new name: Stephenson Christmas Store.


Several of Bill’s family members have also volunteered at the Christmas Store including his daughter, Beth Stephenson-Victor, his son and daughter-in-law, Tom and Angie Stephenson.  Beth sent this in an email on behalf of the family, shortly after seeing a picture of the sign, “While carrying on Bills’ legacy, the family learned of the name change as we ministered to the people at GAP last Christmas. While Dad was not one to draw attention to himself, we know he would be very humbled by this recognition and the family is very moved and honored that GAP will continue to recognize his contribution to the wonderful people in McDowell.”


73 Respond To The Gospel

EasterThe 2013 Community Easter Egg Hunt

The staff and volunteers of GAP have been sowing seeds for nearly fourteen years in the southern end of Floyd County. We were thankful that God did not choose to literally water the earth on the day of the 2013 Community Easter Egg Hunt. Despite the cold, cloudy day, it is estimated that 800 people attended the event. Both kids and adults raced to find the prize eggs. Puppets, clowns, games and face painting were among the activities of the day. The story of God’s ultimate sacrifice for us was told; food for the body and soul was provided. We did our best to plant and water the seeds of the Gospel in as many ways possible.

“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”- I Corinthians 3:6

We have been very intentional in presenting the Gospel at all of our community events. This one was no exception, but we have never had a response like this one. Seventy-three adults wanted to know more about having a personal relationship with Christ. We have been doing follow up for the past month with these individuals. The visits with these people have been exciting. Helena was saved and wanted to know what to do next. Heather was looking for someone to go to church with. She said she felt funny going alone.  We have plans to meet her outside the church on Sunday so she doesn’t have to walk in alone. Christy said she went to church but didn’t know about a “personal relationship”. She made a profession of faith on the phone with Kathy. Amanda cried for an hour as I shared with her about God’s love and grace. She left wanting some time to think on what had been shared. She did ask if we could talk again. She came in this week, hugged my neck and thanked me for sharing. She said, “I made the decision.  I am attending Victory Baptist Church with my sister.”

We are thankful for the opportunity to plant, to water and to watch God give the increase.

Reaping The Harvest: The 2012 Christmas Project

The 2012 Christmas project was filled with generous contributors and grateful recipients like no other year before. We had the awesome privilege of assisting the parents of 1540 children with gifts this year. In the midst of the festivities there were tears of sorrow and tears of joy as families shared their needs and rejoiced in the way those needs were met.

Christmas was difficult for many. Several had lost jobs and other had lost loved ones. We delivered gifts to the Tackett house. They spent Christmas in the ICU waiting room this year. Another family struggled with Christmas after three young girls lost their mother and were sent to live with relatives.

Melinda Johnson

Malinda Johnson & Tanya Stigall

Malinda Johnson & Tanya Stigall

Malinda Johnson’s story is not new to those who have been receiving our newsletter. Her youngest daughter was killed in a car accident a few years ago. This past year, Malinda and her husband were saved and it has been exciting to see how God is working in their lives. Malinda wrote these words on a thank you card: “My truest sincerity goes your way. What you have done for my family and other is a blessing. . . Making a smile on my family’s face for years is such a blessing for me and I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

The Hamiltons

Pat Durham & the Hamiltons

Pat Durham & the Hamiltons

Philip and Samantha Hamilton were being assisted by Ms. Pat Durham from Union Baptist Church. As she walked them out to the car to load gifts and pray with the couple, Philip asked her if she was from the church that brought family Bibles a few years ago. She was touched that they remembered her but more so by the words that came next. “We have the Bible on a table in our living room.” The Bible had a card signed by all the children in Ms. Pat’s children’s program that year. Philip continued to tell her how they prayed for the children by name weekly, even though it was likely some of the children were no longer in the children’s program. Philip and Samantha wrote a thank you card we would like to share with you. “To: All those who have helped us in this time of need. We deeply appreciate all you have done. We hope that God will truly bless you all this upcoming year.” -Philip and Samantha Hamilton and kids, Corbin and Savanah.

Craig Slone

Craig Slone and Kathy Henson

Craig Slone and Kathy Henson

Craig Slone came to the Christmas store with a grim outlook on life. He said his health was bad and he truly believed he would not live much longer. This gave Kathy Henson the opportunity to ask him where his final destination would be if this were to happen. At the conclusion of the conversation, Craig prayed the sinner’s prayer. Then the party started, at the warehouse and in Heaven. Craig left with a smile on his face and some hope for the future, wherever it may lead.

God continued to work in supplying the physical needs and, more importantly, changing lives for all eternity. Tammy Hamilton and Sheila Deal also made professions of faith after hearing the testimony of their personal shopper.
Much of the time it is difficult to measure the impact a ministry truly has because sometimes it is planting a seed. Until the seed begins to penetrate the ground, even the watering can seem worthless. But sometimes God allows us to see the harvest and for that we are sincerely grateful.

Tough Times, Hard Questions

Part 1 of Rita’s Story

By Angie Wagoner

Note: The name of the woman in this article has been change to protect her identity.

It was late in the day. I was exhausted but the Christmas project was about to come to a close, so rest was in the near future. Even though my body was tired, I was thanking God for the results of the Christmas project; thankful for the six salvation’s and that we were able to supply so many more gifts than we had anticipated. I noticed the blinking light on the phone indicating a voicemail. To answer or not to answer, that was the question of the moment. I pressed the button and my heart dropped as I heard the words of a very angry lady. I sat in my office chair stunned at the accusations of belittling her during a recent food appointment. What I had said and what she had heard were two very different things. After praying, I knew I had no choice but to call and try to explain.

The phone rang three times. My heart was pounding. Rita picked up the phone. I told her who I was and how very sorry I was that I had upset her. She said that I had asked her if she went to church anywhere and when she asked about the local church having a children’s ministry, I suggested a church closer to her house. From that, Rita concluded that I didn’t want her to go to church with me. I was able to share that I don’t attend that particular church and so I wasn’t trying to keep her out of my church but to find something closer to where she lived.  This would make it easier for her to get there. She quickly settled down and said that she sometimes lets her mind run away with her, especially since things have gotten so bad with the loss of her husband. She shared that her daughter is in rehab and she is trying to raise the grandchildren.

“Life is hard for me right now,” she explained.“I haven’t been with anyone since my husband, but when there isn’t any food at the end of the month and I have had offers, I am tempted. Sometimes, I am lonely too.”

The next question was as shocking to me as the voicemail. I will have to change a few words for this article, but she asked me if I knew what the Bible said about harlots. Totally unaware of where this was going, I wasn’t sure how to answer. Should I talk about the Ten Commandments or God’s forgiveness? So I shared both. I told Rita that God’s word was plain about adultery and premarital sex. Then I shared about the woman at the well and Rahab, the prostitute. She listened and then told me that she was considering prostitution. “I haven’t been with anyone since my husband, but when there isn’t any food at the end of the month and I have had offers, I am tempted. Sometimes, I am lonely, too.” I shared that God promises to provide for the needs of His children. Through tears, we prayed together.

After the holidays, I call Rita to check on her. She sounded so different and thanked me for calling to check on her. Even with the flu, she wanted to share with me about the song “Changed” by Rascal Flatts. “The first time I heard it I thought of what you told me.” Rita wanted me to find the song and the video that went with it to see what she was talking about. Here are a few of the words.

“I’m changed for the better
More smiles, less bitter
I’m even starting to forgive myself
I hit my knee, I’m here I stand
There I was, now here I am
Here I am, Here I am, Here I am
Yes I am
I’m changed for the better.
Thank God I’m changed.”

As soon as she gets over the flu, she says she wants to go to church with me. This is just the beginning of this story. Stay tuned for part two. In the meantime, pray for Rita and others like her.