Ministry Continues

In the face of a pandemic the ministry of GAP continues…continues to give hope, continues to show God’s love, and continues to help those who needed it.  GAP continues, but just like so many things in 2020, we continue in a different way. For example, unlike any year prior, God’s Appalachian Partnership has hosted only one mission team this year. First Baptist Church of Winter Garden, FL. arrived in early March when the pandemic was just beginning. During their week here, we converted to our first drive-thru distribution. Ministry was cut short that week because of Covid-19 and the team headed back to FL a few days early. Little did we know, that Winter Garden would be the only team that would serve alongside of us in 2020.

All mission teams have been cancelled for the rest of the year. We would have never imagined a year at GAP without mission teams, but Covid-19 has transformed our reality in many mays. It has been challenging and has focused us to rethink how we do ministry. However, during these unprecedented times, we continue to be committed to sharing the Gospel of Jesus above all else. Families continue to be thankful and blessed by the food they receive during distribution. Many have also expressed their gratitude for the changes made because it allows them to feel safe and protected. And even though we may no longer be able to hug our families, Christ’s love continues to radiate from our hearts with each smile, conversation, prayer, and humble act of service we continue to do. This would not be possible without all our partners who generously give and support monthly, allowing us to faithfully be a witness to those in our area. THANK YOU! We would also like to thank the following churches who have donated food items to keep our pantry full over the last several months: Fitzpatrick BC, Destination Church, South Orlando BC, Winter Garden FBC, Valdosta FBC, Warner Robbins Second BC, and Smoke Rise BC.

Calling an Audible

By Tanya Parker

In the land of football, the word audible means: a substitute offensive or defensive play called at the line of scrimmage. So the offense lines up and the quarterback looks out and sees how the opposing team defense has lined up.  He then has an opportunity to change his teams play based on that lineup.  So he has an option to call an audible.  He will quickly call it out to let his team know to change it up fast because there isn’t much time.  It is crucial that the team is listening for their quarterback to instruct them so that they can carry out the better plan of action.

I believe this word sums up 2020 Missions and Ministry.  In essence we have seen how everything has lined up and we are calling an audible at the line to adjust for what is coming our way.

Just like in football we must listen for our quarterback’s plan, trust him and do it.  Football coaches spend hours upon hours studying other teams and their strategies in the game.  They lay out the best plays in the playbook but they leave room for their quarterback who is on the field in the game to call an audible.  The quarterback has to spend enough time training with his coaches to know the coaches’ will and best decision in the game.

2020 has certainly lined up differently than any of us imagined.  Our Pastors and Ministry leaders have had to call an “audible” for the Church and Ministries.  At God’s Appalachian Partnership our “quarterback” director John Morris has certainly been calling audibles.  So much has changed.  All of our thought through and planned strategies and events are no good with the current line up!  We must call an audible or we won’t be effective on the field. 

GAP has prayed and sought out, for now, what the Lord would have us do.  We are calling an audible to ensure we are still in the game sharing God’s love in the best way we can.  It looks different, it feels different, but we will trust that God will work through this for His good.

God is on the Move

Almost two years ago, God’s Appalachian Partnership began the process of building on Elk Ridge. At first we had envisioned that our first phase would be building GAP’s office/distribution building. However, because of several factors that were out of our control, the Lord directed that Phase I would be GAP’s Mission House. We are so excited to announce that the Mission House is completed! God miraculously provided for this building which houses GAP’s executive director’s family, summer interns, and small mission teams.

In the building of the Mission House, we have seen the amazing provision of our Father in Heaven.  As you know, GAP did not publicize a huge building campaign in order to build Phase I. God provided by working in the hearts of individuals, companies, and numerous talented laborers to complete an overwhelming building! A local contractor and his team worked tirelessly for the glory of God. This building is a visible reminder to all around that God is Jehovah-Jireh. It is a mighty display of His power and how He accomplishes the impossible! The Morris family moved into a portion of the Mission House just a few days before Christmas. Now we need to look at furnishing the apartment section that will be used by mission teams and interns. We need your help. Following is a list of needed items to furnish the apartment and an estimated cost of each. Would you please consider partnering with us by providing the financial cost of these items? Perhaps you as an individual, your Sunday School Class, or your church could partner together to purchase these needed items.

Bedroom 1 = $2,776 

  • Twin Bunk Beds – $731
  • 2 Twin Mattresses – $450
  • Queen Mattress/ Box Spring Set w/rails – $1,000
  • 2 Night Stands – $215
  • 2 Lamps – $40
  • 2 Luggage Racks – $40
  • Curtains & Linens/Bedding for all beds in room – $300

Bedroom 2 = $2,776

  • Twin Bunk Beds – $731
  • 2 Twin Mattresses – $450
  • Queen Mattress/ Box Spring Set w/rails – $1,000
  • 2 Night Stands – $215
  • 2 Lamps – $40
  • 2 Luggage Racks – $40
  • Curtains & Linens/Bedding for all beds in room – $300

Common Area = $2,310

  • Couch & Love seat – $2,100
  • Coffee Tables – $100
  • Lamps/Rug – $110

Kitchen = $2,074

  • Stove + 5 Year Protection Plan – $629
  • Refrigerator + 5 Year Protection Plan – $946
  • Microwave/Hood Combo + Year Protection Plan – $329
  • Dishes/Silverware – $50
  • Cooking Pans, etc. – $120

Utility Room = $1,116

  • Washer + 5 Year Protection Plan – $558
  • Dryer + 5 Year Protection Plan – $558

This is a great project for you, your Sunday School Class, or church! You can click the “Donate Now” button at the bottom of the newsletter email to give online. Please just note in the memo section your designation. You may also call me with any questions or to discuss your intentions with this exciting opportunity. Please prayerfully consider joining the Lord in completing the Mission House for His use!

Hunting for the Truth

Spring is just around the corner which means it’s almost time for GAP’s annual Community Easter Egg Hunt, Hunting for the Truth. This annual ministry event is our biggest one-day evangelistic event of the year. Depending upon the weather, we usually have between 500 to 800 people. We are excited about the opportunities the Lord will give us this year, on April 4, 2020, to share the Truth of Easter with our community.

As we plan and prepare for this exciting ministry event, we need your help! There are several ways you can partner with us:

  • Pray – Please bathe this event and its planning in prayer. Ask the Father to reveal Truth to those who have been blinded by this world. Pray that the Gospel message will be at the front of everything that is planned and done.
  • Volunteer – We need volunteers to come Saturday to work at the event. Volunteers need to arrive by 8:00 am and will be done by 2:30 pm. (Lodging accommodations can be made) Volunteers are needed to work games, serve food, work registration, and share the gospel at the Truth Pavilion. Please contact John if interested in volunteering.
  • Gathering & Filling – We use approximately 2,500 plastic eggs filled with non-chocolate candy. We need individuals and/or groups who would collect and fill plastic eggs for our event. We need to know how many you or your group will be doing and we need them one week prior to the event.
  • Financial Partners – We need several financial partners to come alongside us to help sponsor this ministry event. Supplies needed for purchase range from food, drinks, paper supplies, door prizes, and supplies for the Truth Pavilion. We need between $1,100 to $1,300.

Please mark April 4th on your calendar. Begin praying for this exciting day of ministry. If possible, join us on this day to share about the resurrection of our Lord with our community. If you have further questions or need more information, please contact our office.

God’s Love

Due to Christmas and the fact we do not have distribution in the month of January, it has been nearly two months since we have seen some of our families. February 4th was the first Distribution of 2020 and we could hardly wait to be reunited with them again. It’s hard to express how much we miss seeing everyone. During the month of February, we specially designed our bulletin boards and hung balloons to point our families to the love of Christ. We have also made each person a Valentine with an attached piece of chocolate candy.

The purpose of the Valentine is to let everyone know how much we love and missed them and as a reminder to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Prov. 3:5). It has turned out to be a constant reminder and source of strength to us as well, as we carry the burdens and extreme hardships that our families are faced with. Our hearts are broken almost daily as we desperately yearn for them to know the hope found only in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Just during our last distribution we mourned with a sweet widow suffering from the loneliness and heartache from the death of her spouse, a woman devastated by financial struggles and the possibility of losing her home, a starving drug addict faced with the consequences of her bad choices and desperate for a plate of food, as well as many others facing difficult problems and health issues.

Please join us in praying for our families. We love each and every one of them and want them to know the love of Christ!

Christmas Project 2019

God’s Appalachian Partnership held four Christmas Stores and the Parents’ Store in the month of December, as well as our normal four days of Distribution. It was a busy time of wonderful ministry. There were a total of 696 children shopped for during the Christmas stores and a total of 143 children shopped at the Parents’ Store.

It was Leslie’s (name changed) first time at the Christmas Store. As she sat in the cookie room waiting, she had lots of questions on how things worked. She was so excited about being able to shop for her little girl that her face was beaming. Finally, her name was called and her personal shopper greeted her and began to explain the shopping process to her. As she began she was quiet and focused. Then she spotted a Baby Alive doll that her daughter had been wanting. She asked if she could have it and the reply was yes, plus you still have more points. Leslie began to explain that this doll was all that her daughter was wanting and that she didn’t know how she was going to get it. Her personal shopper explained, “God provided this doll for you to show you that He will provide for your every need. He cares about even the smallest needs in our lives. He also provided this to show you both how much He loves you! But, as wonderful as this gift is, He gave an even greater gift. It was the very first Christmas gift ever given. It was His Son Jesus.”

Thank you for partnering with us to purchase this Baby Alive doll and providing the opportunity to share the Gospel with Leslie and others like her this Christmas. We continue to pray that every toy will be visible reminders of the Gospel and God’s love to each family that received them this past Christmas.

Thanksgiving Meal

On November 2, 2019, God’s Appalachian Partnership’s Board of Directors held our second annual Thanksgiving Meal for our GAP families. Our board and friends prepared a feast of turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, dressing, green beans, sweet potato casserole, rolls, cake, and pumpkin pie! However, the best part of the day was the sweet fellowship we were able to have with our precious families. It was wonderful to sit around and talk with each family and find out what they are thankful for this year. Too often at Distribution it is so crowded and busy that it is hard to have a one-on-one conversation. This ministry event allows us to serve our families and sit around and just talk, building relationships with the whole family. It was great to meet family members that we have heard so much about and prayed for throughout the year.

Our staff cannot express in words how much we enjoyed this year’s Thanksgiving Meal. We are thankful for our Board of Directors and all those who helped make this year’s event a success. A special thanks to Carol Cooley Jefferies who took a family photo of each of our families and then printed them to give as a gift during our first distributions of the new year.

Summer Day Camps

Wayne Assoc @ Left Beaver
Heartland @ Weeksbury
Lawndale Baptist Church

2019 was the second year that God’s Appalachian Partnership held Day Camps during the summer at three different locations. It was the greatest year yet for our summer children’s program at GAP. This year we focused again in three different areas, holding three week long activities at each location: Left Beaver Townhouses, Weeksbury Community, and Ivy Creek Townhouses. Our biblical theme came from 1 and 2 Samuel entitled “A Kingdom Created”. Children learned that God was the nation of Israel’s first king but that the people wanted a human king to follow. Then they learn about Saul, Israel’s first human king. Finally, several days was spent looking at the life of David and how God used him. Throughout the study, the Gospel was clearly shared each week with the children. 6 children & youth accepted Jesus Christ!

The summer started off with a bang with three wonderful teams leading at Day Camp at Left Beaver Townhouses: Dallasburg Baptist Church, Wayne Association of Baptist, and South Orlando Baptist Church. We averaged 14 children each day and was able to build some wonderful relationships with the families there in the complex. Two weeks during camp, the kids were taught about puppets and on the last night of the three weeks they performed a puppet skit for their parents and community at a community cook-out! On the second week of the camp the team held a digital camera class for the kids where they learned how to take photos using a camera. They even played a scavenger hunt game with the cameras that the kids absolutely loved and are still talking about. Most of all, these children experienced the love of God first hand while they heard the Gospel message. Several children wanted to talk more about salvation and 4 accepted Christ!

June 24th through July 12th we had an amazing time in the Weeksbury Community. Barlow First Baptist Church, Heartland Church, and Blackrock Baptist Church loved on the children and shared the Good News of Jesus Christ! The first week of Day Camp began with an Olympic Games theme were the children were encouraged to run the race with perseverance. Heartland Church brought the stories of David to life through drama that kept our children wanting to know what would happen next. They also taught the kids some awesome truths through archery. Blackrock Baptist finished our time at Weeksbury sharing the Gospel and ended the week with a family cook-out event. The children had learned a few interpretive movements to songs which they shared with their families during the cookout. We averaged 13 children during the course of the three weeks at Weeksbury. The summer ended with Paducah First Baptist Church, Lawndale Baptist Church, and New Hope Baptist Church ministering to the children and families at Ivy Creek Apartments. The awesome aspect about this ministry site was that it consisted largely of youth instead of children. We averaged 17 youth at Ivy and they connected immediately with each team, forming bonds that allowed for the Gospel to be shared easily. Several Gospel conversations were had throughout our time at Ivy and 2 youth accepted Christ! Both of them have been baptized and them and their families are regularly attending church. Praise be to God!

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)