Eastern Kentucky Ministry Update

On February 6-10, I had the privilege of speaking at the Global Impact Celebration sponsored by First United Methodist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Rev. David Spencer, NHIM partner in Eastern Kentucky Ministry, shared responsibilities in presenting our Eastern Kentucky ministry.  It was an outstanding opportunity to introduce the folks in Tuscaloosa to the Lord’s work in our area of Appalachia.  At 12:30 in the afternoon on the 10th, David and I left Tuscaloosa and traveled to Bayou La Batre, Alabama.  We were scheduled for a 6:00 presentation at the Evangelical Methodist Church. Just like we found in Tuscaloosa, we experienced encouragement and support there.

Pastor David loads the food pantry truck with furninture
Pastor David loads the food pantry truck with furninture

February 19th was a big day for our ministry.  David drove the Abiding Hope Food Pantry truck from Bear Pen to Wilmore, Kentucky.  The truck was partially filled with 20 twin beds, dressers, and wardrobes donated by Asbury University.  Go International Mission Group donated storm doors, cabinets, sinks, and many other items to add to our load.  On the way back to Bear Pen, we stopped at Sharpsburg, Kentucky to finish the load with carpet tiles.  The donated carpet had been stored in the basement of the Sharpsburg church plant.  Pray that we are able to build our much needed storage facility – soon!

Herschel (holding his commission as Minister of Intercessory Prayer), Seth, and Melissa
Herschel (holding his commission as Minister of Intercessory Prayer), and his neighbors, Seth and Melissa

Late on the evening of the 19th, David escorted us to a rather remote area of Wolf County called the ‘Calaboose’.  We arrive at Hershel Walker’s home a little before dark. We held a commissioning service for Hershel, who is a strong believer, but bedfast.  He has greatly desired to be a part of our ministry. That evening we commissioned Hershel as a Minister of Intercessory Prayer. How quickly the Lord responded to his prayers! On Sunday the 24th, two of Hershel’s neighbors who had attended the commissioning service came to the altar at Bear Pen Community Worship Center to commit their lives to Christian service.  They want to become home visitation team leaders. We have really needed the help. Praise the Lord!

Turkey Shoot target
Turkey Shoot target

Saturday morning was another great day in ministry. Miss Sue and I had an early morning departure from Wilmore for the nearly two-hour trip from our home to Bear Pen. Our trip had a two-fold purpose:

1. My purpose was to attend our ‘Bibles and Bullets’ (my name) Turkey Shoot behind the Bear Pen Youth Center. It’s a target shoot – we don’t really shoot turkeys. About forty folks gathered to enjoy the fellowship and competition. I made a lot of new friends and enjoyed witnessing David win one of the rounds.

2. Miss Sue met with David’s wife, Nora, to plan our first Women’s Retreat. The women in this area, many of whom are new believers, have little opportunity to fellowship and receive instruction in the Faith.

Sign outside the church at Shoemaker Ridge
Sign outside the church at Shoemaker Ridge

Another event worthy of mention also occurred this past weekend. Those of you familiar with our ministry know that Shoemaker Ridge Church is less than a year old.  We opened the church in an area notorious for meth labs, drug dealers, and bootleggers.  Unbelievably, thirty-two people have received the Lord on the Ridge. Friday and Saturday there was a major drug bust on the Ridge. Saturday evening David called me from Shoemaker. He was only partially kidding when he said, “I came over to see if we had enough folks left to have church”.  Not one of our people was taken in the bust. God is helping us hold on to those He’s given us.

~ Brother Roy


A Proverb

New Hope Community Church of Berrydale, Jamaica
New Hope Community Church of Berrydale, Jamaica

A proverb may be defined as a short familiar saying that expresses a supposed truth or moral lesson.  Solomon, as a guide for moral practice, wrote the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament.  The Book of Proverbs has been a moral compass across the centuries. The origin of other proverbs is frequently a mystery.  They simply are part of a surrounding culture and are considered worthy of remembering because of the lessons they teach.

Miss Sue taught a proverb of unknown origin to a Bible School team she led to Jamaica. The proverb had been set to music and was easy to remember. The children from the rural community where the team was working loved it. It quickly became incorporated into local conversation.

An NHIM construction team was working across the river from Miss Sue’s Bible School site. The community of Berrydale was separated from the main community by a river. There was no bridge in the area to connect Berrydale with essential services. Often high water isolated the residents for many days. NHIM was helping the people build a church and school on their side of the river so worship and education would not be interrupted.

The people of Berrydale came alongside the NHIM team to help in anyway they could. Our team ran out of time before the building project could be completed. A number of small jobs needed to be done before the people could move into the buildings. The NHIM project leader showed the locals how to finish these smaller projects in our absence. We committed to return in a few months and finish any work that was too difficult for the community to do.

When we returned, weeds and vines had grown up all around the buildings. It appeared that none of the work left to the community had been completed.

What happened? Why had they not finished their jobs? Miss Sue’s parable had been quickly integrated into the their conversation and pin-pointed the problem. Let me share the parable.

“Anybody could do

What everybody should do

All the good things

That nobody did!”

The parable has universal applications. So much essential work in building the Kingdom of God goes undone because of the truth expressed in this little parable. There are things that we should be doing to advance the cause of Christ. They remain undone simply because we just don’t get around to it. We are content to let somebody else do it.  A word to the wise, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4: 17)

~Brother Roy

The Test

truefalseMiss Sue and I are regular attendees at Global Café. This Sunday evening event is a gathering of Asbury University students at the World Gospel Mission Student Center in Wilmore, Kentucky.  There are normally eighty to one hundred students in attendance. These students are keenly interested in learning about missions as they consider their future plans beyond college.

Recently at the Global Café, the attendance was larger than usual and we were grateful for the excellent attendance. Vince Archer, veteran WGM missionary, was sharing about an exciting new ministry among university students in Argentina. He related a personal anecdote from his Asbury days. He had just finished his final exams for the semester and was attending a church conference in the south.  The speaker at one of the sessions he attended opened by telling them he was going to start the session with a test. Having just survived exams, Vince had little interest in taking another test. The speaker tried to relieve the tension by informing the session attendees that it would only be one question.  Then, to further reduce the apprehension, he announced that it would be a ‘true or false ‘ question. Vince relaxed a bit and waited for the one question.

The speaker asked, “ Do you think it is wise to include God in your future plans?” Answer true or false.  Raise your hand if you think ‘true’ is the correct response. Everyone raised his or her hand. The speaker continued by tell the group that ‘false’ was actually the best response. Moments passed, and then the speaker gave his rationale for believing false was the best response.

He felt it was arrogant and presumptuous to think we have the prerogative of allowing God to have a place in OUR plans. It is much better to recognize who God is and who we are.  We surely must understand that His ways are higher than our ways. (Isaiah 55: 9).  We need to acknowledge His sovereignty when He says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

~ Brother Roy

“I’m a Children”

About twenty years ago, I had a team of Asbury College students in Jamaica on Christmas break. We were taking much needed clothing and shoes to several children’s homes on the north side of the island. We planned to spend a day at each home playing with the children and having a Christmas party. Each child would receive some clothing, a pair of shoes, a toy, and some candy. What a joy to share the Christmas story, sing Christmas carols, and give each one their presents. For most of the children, this would be the only Christmas gifts or celebration they would experience.

One day while the college students were sorting clothing and wrapping gifts, I made a trip to a remote children’s home to be sure they were expecting us. I started my journey in the town of Highgate, where we were staying. The narrow winding road led up a steep grade for several miles toward the top of the mountain. Pringle Children Home was situated near the very crest of the mountain.  Even though Jamaica has tropical temperature year around, the higher elevation and prevailing wind makes it cooler than almost any place on the island. When I stepped out of the car, I shivered against the cold.

I was surprised when children and staff did not immediately surround the car. They don’t get a lot of visitors at Pringle. On previous visits there, excited children had besieged the car before it stopped rolling. This time I didn’t see anyone. The place seemed to be deserted. I called out and heard no answer. This was strange, almost eerie. I walked through the empty main building and stepped out the backdoor. It was there I heard a scraping sound in the backyard. Sitting on the ground not far away was an adolescent girl. She had her back to me. She was scouring a large cooking pot with sand. “Where is everyone?” I asked. “Where are the children? There are no children here.”

The girl, with steady gaze, was looking across the way perhaps a half-mile, to another rise. My eyes followed the direction of her gaze. I could see children dashing about and could faintly hear their laughter. The Pringle Home children had been invited to participate in a field day at the local government school. As I started to leave, the girl stopped scouring and turned around. I could see deep sadness in her dull eyes. She was mentally deficient and had been left behind. She spoke in halting speech, as if to hold me there for another moment. “Sir, I’m a children.”

Those words still burn in my mind. How many times have I looked across the way and neglected to see one at my very feet. We often rush to serve a larger population or in a distant place. However, someone like this precious child may be right in front of us longing for our attention. Can you hear her soft voice? I still hear her saying,  “Sir, I’m a children.”

Lord, give us the grace and wisdom to minister “to the least of God’s children.”

~ Brother Roy