Families are so Appreciative

Wednesday, October 9, 2019, was the last day that God’s Appalachian Partnership’s Thrift Store was open this year. Last year, we decided to open a Thrift Store just a couple days a month for only our families. 2019 was the second year of this ministry and today in preparation for closing for the season we held our annual $5 fill a bag. That bag is a 13-gallon garbage bag filled till it can’t close. Today was the busiest ever with 17 people waiting at least 30 minutes till we opened.

What we heard over and over again from our families was how much they appreciated the Thrift Store and how much they were going to miss it over the next few months while it will be closed. One pointed out that everything she was wearing she had gotten at the store some time before this year. So much appreciation and excitement for the great things the Lord had provided.

As they would say thank you we just reminded them to thank the Lord for it was He who provided all these wonderful things because He loves each of them so much! Shaughanessy and I would like to say thank you to all the volunteers that have worked so hard this year keeping the Thrift Store looking so neat and organized. We appreciate you more than we could ever express.  We would like to also thank everyone who has given supplies to the Thrift Store. Thank you for giving good, useable things. We appreciate your generosity and know that the Lord has used it.

NEW STAFF – Tanya Parker

Parker Family

I love God’s Appalachian Partnership.  Every time I hear the scripture “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me…” (Mt. 25:35-36a) I think about GAP.  They helped me and my family 14 years ago with food, clothing and encouragement in the name of Christ.  I have volunteered every chance I could over the last 10 years.  I have prayed for God to guide the ministry and bless it so they can continue sharing Christ and meeting needs. 

Around a year ago I began praying for God to send missionaries to help John and Shaughanessy carry out all that God had planned for GAP.  In March of 2019 I volunteered at the annual Easter Egg Hunt.  I remember exactly where I was standing that I felt the Lord tell me, “this is it.  This is where I want you.” I didn’t immediately obey.  I started second guessing myself and I was becoming miserable.  I finally gave in and called John at GAP and asked him questions about the “missionary life”.  After a time of fasting and prayer I confirmed that God truly was calling me to serve at GAP. 

For over two years Shaughanessy and I have been praying that the Lord would “send someone like Tanya Parker to GAP”. Who knew that He would send the one and only Tanya Parker! Praise be to God! We are so excited to welcome her to the Lord’s team here at GAP. She brings a wealth of gifts, talents, and experience to the staff. She was raised here in the McDowell area so many already know her and/or her family which makes building relationships for Christ easier.

Tanya has been married to Joseph (Joe) Parker for 21 years. They have three wonderful daughters, Makayla (20), Grace (18), and Allison (16). Joe is a deacon and Sunday School teacher at their church and the Lord has blessed him with a full time job at Prestonsburg City Utilities. Makayla is currently pursuing a nursing degree. Grace is in cosmetology school expecting to graduate this summer. Allison is a sophomore in high school and is currently being home schooled.

(Italics written by John Morris)

The Blessings of Fresh Vegetables

Do you remember the days of tilling the garden, planting rows of produce, hoeing and weeding, watering, and patiently waiting for God’s blessings of harvest? There is just something amazing about eating food that one has grown and cultivated. There is no better food than fresh vegetables from the garden.  However, we live in a world were unfortunately the art of gardening has almost been lost. The youth of McDowell First Baptist Church for the last three years are being taught about gardening and GAP and our families are being blessed with the “fruits” of their labor.

Inspired from the Biblical account of Ruth and the concept of gleaning, McDowell’s youth group has raised a garden for the last three years and given the produce to us to distribute to our families. This year around Memorial Day weekend, deacons in the church plowed the garden and prepared it for planting. The youth planted green beans, corn, onion, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Based upon a weekly work schedule, youth was given tasks to accomplish each week in the garden. As the produce became ready they delivered it to GAP for us to use on Distribution days.

Our families have been thrilled with the fresh produce. A couple of weeks ago, the youth delivered green beans. We divided them up into bags and put them on the shelves for our families that morning for distribution. One lady shared with me that she was so excited for the green beans because this was the first ones she had since last year when we had them on our shelves. I reminded her that God provided them for her and her family and as she eats them just remember how much He loves them all!

Thank you McDowell First Baptist Church for not only teaching our youth the valuable skill of gardening but also compassion, love, caring for others, and for blessings our families with the abundance of God’s harvest! (Click on the image above to view more pictures.)

KidStock 2018

At the end of summer when it is time for children to go back to school there is always a flood of emotions for both parents and children. The one thing that usually brings smiles to faces is the newness that comes with this time of year. Whether it is a new outfit, a new pair of shoes, or new school supplies, we all enjoy receiving something new in preparation for a new school year.

For many families in our area, KidStock is the means that God uses to provide some of these new items. KidStock is GAP’s annual back-to-school ministry event and it was held July 28th, 2018. 223 children and their families attended this fun-filled day. Families arrived by appointment and each student was given a nametag and new backpack or new pull string bag, depending on their age. Then the fun began! Families walked around playing carnival type games filling their backpacks with much needed school supplies. The day will filled with delicious treats such as cotton candy, snow cones, hot dogs, and lots of candy. Throughout the day each family rotated into the building where they were presented a skit of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Then, in the solemn quietness of the moment, individual volunteers humbly knelt before each child, washed their feet, and placed a new pair of socks and tennis shoes on them while sharing the world’s most powerful message – the Gospel!

Families not only received new supplies for school and new shoes but they heard how they could have a new life in Christ Jesus. This year we had a station for the elementary children where they could color their own Bible bookmark. Volunteers helped them find the scripture on their bookmark in their new Bible while others talked with parents sharing with them how to have newness of life in Christ. It was a blessing to see all the smiles on children’s and parents’ faces alike but nothing compared to the fact of knowing that seven people accepted Christ at KidStock 2018!

Praise God for all our generous donors and partners who made this ministry event a great success! Thank you for your prayers and for the many volunteers who came with hearts dedicated to Jesus and sharing His love! Special thank you to Left Beaver Volunteer Fire Department for providing cotton candy for all to enjoy. Thanks to all who stood in the GAP at KidStock 2018! (Click on the image above to view more pictures.)

Barlow First Baptist Church 2018

June 24th – 29th, 2018 Barlow First Baptist Church partnered with us in ministry. The team was busy holding Day Camps at Weeksbury Community Park, serving at Distribution/BeansTalk, ministering at the Group Home with supper, serving at Senior Citizens’ Center, and squeezing in some home visits. The team also had a group of skilled carpenters that labored to build a ramp enabling an elderly lady to return to her home. Thank you Barlow First Baptist Church for showing the love of Christ in word and deed! (Please click on the photo above to view more pictures.)

South Orlando Baptist Church 2018

June 9th – 15th, 2018 a group from South Orlando Baptist Church arrived eager to serve our community. The team held the summer’s first Day Camp at Left Beaver Townhouses. They did a wonderful job and the children really enjoyed their time. It was awesome to see the kids develop friendships with team members and how those friendships allowed the kids to open up and share! On Tuesday, South Orlando ministered at Distribution/BeansTalk and shared God’s love with all who entered. Also during the week, half the team served at a ministry construction project at Elk Ridge. They accomplished so much and even power washed the maintenance building, which was in desperate need. Thank you South Orlando Baptist Church for serving alongside of us! (Please click on the photo above to view more pictures.)

Second Baptist Church of Marion 2018

June 3rd – 8th, 2018 a team from Second Baptist Church of Marion, IL partnered with GAP for their first time and we were blessed with an amazing week of ministry! A group of men worked on a family’s home that needed a door replaced and their bathroom remodeled. Ginger, the home’s owner, was excited about the finished product but more blessed with the new friends she had made. A group of ladies traveled one day to two different apartment complexes to minister to women by offering a ladies’ day out centered around the story of Esther. The ladies who attended learned about Esther, had their haircut, nails painted, hand messages, made a craft, and had a snack! The team also ministered two days at the Thrift Store, Senior Citizens, Group Home, distribution/BeansTalk, home visits, and at Hope Homes! It was a FULL week of wonderful ministry! Thank you Second Baptist Church. (Please click on the photo above to view more pictures.)

Blackrock Baptist Church 2018

Blackrock Baptist Church, near Jacksonville, FL, served alongside us for their first time May 28th – June 1st, 2018. The team consisted mostly of youth and had a full week serving two days of distribution and BeansTalk. They had many wonderful conversations with our families, especially, since one of the team members was originally from eastern KY. The team visited and ministered at the Group Home and helped around the ministry center by shopping and preparing for distribution. Thank you Blackrock Baptist Church for your partnership in ministry! (Click the above image to view more pictures.)

Smoke Rise Baptist Church Men’s Mission Trip May 2018

(Click above image to view more pictures.)

Flexibility is a word we often use in missions and the team from Stone Mountain, GA truly exemplified it as they served at GAP during the week of May 20th – 25th, 2018. These men traveled to eastern KY with hammers in hand, eager to participate in a construction ministry project. Unfortunately the project that had been planned for them had to be canceled. This team has been faithfully coming to GAP for several years, but this may have been the first time they arrived not really knowing what they were getting themselves into. However, because of their unfailing willingness to serve under any circumstance, God had the perfect family in place for this team to minister to. During their week, Smoke Rise blessed a young, working family with new windows, interior doors, an exterior door, siding on their home, and the supplies to build a big front porch. The family was overwhelmed and blessed by these men and their hearts for the Lord! To read more about the family this team served, please click the following link http://www.gapky.org/2018/06/have-you-ever-considered-the-ant/

Have You Ever Considered the Ant?

(Please click on above image to view more pictures.)

As I sat outside one day, I marveled at one of God’s creatures, the ant. The ants were so well organized and disciplined in their lines as they sought out to accomplish their goal. They displayed such strength and work ethic as they worked together. The ants tirelessly stayed busy all day with such persistence because they understood one thing: winter is coming. They plan for winter, when food is scarce, by stock piling during all the other seasons. As I was fascinated over these small wonders, I was reminded that, in Scripture, God calls us to consider the ant. Proverbs 6:6-8 says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers it food at harvest.”

There is a sweet family that GAP has had the pleasure of serving that I would like to introduce you to. They have considered the ways of the ant and in turn have become wise. Victoria and Thomas is a young couple in their early 20’s who have three small, precious children. Thomas works at the local Lowes Home Improvement Store which is about 45 minutes away and Victoria is a stay-at-home mom. The couple was paying rent on an apartment until they decided to act upon their dream of owning their own home. They decided to make sacrifices and move in with Thomas’ parents in order to save money and purchase property near where Thomas grew up.

Within months of saving and making difficult sacrifices, they were able to purchase the land and prepare for building. As they continued to save money, they sought out and were able to buy materials as they came on sale or became discounted. Although Thomas puts in long hours working at Lowes, he and Victoria have persevered and work hard laboring on their house. Thomas’ parents have joined in and have physically helped, but it is the determination and devotion of this couple that is making their dream a reality for their entire family!

Not only is Victoria a stay-at-home mom with a 4-year old, 3-year old, and 1-year old, but in May she graduated with her associate degree in Early Childhood Development. How she found time for taking care of the kids, her home, homework, and building a house is beyond me. I was talking with Thomas about how much I hate finishing drywall and he said he had done very little of it because he could not do it to suit Victoria. She had done all the mudding and finishing herself, and it looks wonderful! Victoria plans to go back to college in the fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

At the end of May, a group of men from Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, GA arrived and served alongside us, helping this young family with their home. The team installed three interior doors, five windows, one exterior door, siding on the entire house and built a small back porch. The team also left resources for them to build a big front porch, which they have almost completed. Victoria and Thomas expressed how overwhelmed and grateful they are for all the team accomplished and how humbled they were by the team’s love and generosity. Thank you Smoke Rise Baptist Church for being the hands and feet of Jesus and loving this family!

Although the home is not complete yet, the family is thrilled with the progress. Victoria said, “It would have taken us months to save and do what this team did in just a few days. We are so grateful!” As for now, Thomas is building his own kitchen cabinets as he finishes the porch and prepares for the next big job of laying carpet/flooring down in the house.