Construction on New Building

There is so much excitement here at God’s Appalachian Partnership as we step out in faith and begin this long-awaited building project. With the help of a partnering church, GAP purchased land to build on in 2011. Ever since then, it has been a dream of one day building a new distribution/office building upon this property called Elk Ridge. Since acquiring the land, the Lord has allowed us to construct a maintenance building upon the property, Mission House that was completed in 2019, and the Dental Clinic that was completed last year.

This new building will allow for the growth of ministry that has occurred over the years, free us from paying monthly rent on a building we have out-grown and will serve the ministry for years to come. The new facility is 3,858 square feet. These images show a rendering of what the outside and inside of the building could look like. Also, you will notice that we have broken ground on this exciting God adventure. This first milestone of foundation work which includes footers, laying blocks, gravel, initial plumbing, concrete slab, and permits will cost $120,000.

We need your help in reaching this first goal of our building project. We have an anonymous donor who will match the first $50,000 of gifts given to the building project. That means your gift is doubled! We invite you to pray and ask the Lord how you can be a part of this exciting moment in GAP history. You can make a one-time gift or you can make monthly gifts designated to the building project. If you would like to make a gift online or set up monthly gifts please hit the Donate Now button at the bottom of the email. For larger gifts please send them directly to GAP, P.O. Box 704, McDowell, KY  41647. Thank you for your partnership in ministry!

People Need to Know Jesus

Saturday, March 23rd was a cold, wet, windy morning. One of those mornings that is hard to get out of bed, let of lone the house. But on this day, it was God’s Appalachian Partnership’s annual community Easter egg hunt which meant it was an early morning for not only us but many volunteers. We had 38 volunteers drive three hours that morning to help with the ministry event plus 27 volunteers from GA, MO, and local churches. Between the cold and the wind, it was difficult to get excited about the event and I began to wonder if anyone would even show up on such a day.

It stopped raining that morning just in time to start pulling things off the trailer and setting up for the day. The busyness of setup kept me energized but I knew that I needed to pull away and spend a few moments in prayer asking God to focus my heart and attitude. However, being pulled here and there and hearing my name yelled from different directions kept me from taking the necessary time to redirect my heart. Before I knew it, we were an hour into the event, and I found myself standing alone shivering trying to stay warm.

I looked around the park and the attendance was much less than in previous years which I later found out we had 187 in attendance plus volunteers. Honestly, it was much more than I anticipated with the weather that day. I stood at the Truth Pavilion and watched as two boys used their special decoder glasses to discover the truth of Easter, Jesus is Alive! I heard the volunteer ask the boys, “Do you know who Jesus is?” Their blank stares revealed their answer before they said, “no.” Then they were asked, “Do you know who God is?” Their expression changed and they immediately responded, “yes”. The volunteer went on to explain who Jesus is, why we celebrate Easter, and the Gospel.

As I stood there, speechless, observing these 11 year-old and 9 year-old brothers, my heart broke for them. I know their grandma has been to GAP several times and we have shared the Gospel with her. I just could not help but think was this the first time these boys was ever hearing of Jesus? Maybe or maybe not, but even if they had heard of Jesus before they had forgotten who He was. God has used this event, on one of the most uncomfortable days, to remind me not only why God’s Appalachian Partnership is here but why I am here. We are here because people need to know Jesus! And yes, there are people right here in eastern Kentucky that have never heard of Him. Will you partner with us in meeting people at their point of need so they may know Jesus? “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).

Christmas in July

Christmas in July

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.

Summer Interns

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.

The Hillbilly Poet 

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.” 

-Walter Lane

Flood Update

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.

Christmas Project 2022

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!

Fall Festival

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!

Update on the Flood

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.

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.