North Carolina Baptists are blessed to be a part of a wonderful ministry called Appalachian Regional Ministry (ARM). Bill Barker, who is employed by the North American Mission Board, lives in West Virginia and leads the work of ARM to families who struggle financially in poverty-stricken communities across the Appalachian Mountain range and the Mississippi Delta region.
Within the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, the Appalachian Coalfields Ministry (ACM), which is sponsored by North Carolina Baptist Men (NCBM), seeks to help meet the physical and spiritual needs of people living in five Appalachian states.
Each year, groups of people from N.C. Baptist churches and associations join with Baptists from other states to engage in these mission opportunities.
Once again, ARM and ACM are collecting backpacks for a Christmas event called Appalachian Christmas Outreach 2016, and NCBM is calling on churches statewide to respond to this need. For many of the children who benefit from this ministry, these backpacks are the only Christmas present that they will receive.
Each backpack will include things like inexpensive toys, school supplies, hygiene items and also a Bible and a pamphlet telling the story of Christmas. This means that each child not only receives a Christmas present, but also receives God’s Word.
Last year, more than 46,000 backpacks were collected and distributed, and nearly 1,400 children who received those backpacks – as well as the adults in their lives – made professions of faith. N.C. Baptist churches have a strong history of engaging in the Appalachian Christmas Outreach – last year, we were among the top contributors to this ministry. ARM’s goal for 2016 backpack collection is 50,000.
Wouldn’t you like to join other N.C. Baptists in praying and giving to provide backpacks for these children as a tangible expression of God’s love for each of them during the Christmas season this year?
I realize that many N.C. Baptist people and churches support a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse each year as they fill shoeboxes with supplies for children in other countries. I commend our Baptist people for doing this.
However, I hope that more N.C. Baptists will also want to be a part of the Christmas backpack outreach opportunity that helps poor children in our country – the children who receive these backpacks are among the more than 500,000 American children who do not have the security of knowing where their next meal will come from. Through this ministry, more than 3,200 people have made salvation decisions since 2012, and I am confident that the Lord will continue to use our efforts for His glory.
There are other ways to be a part of this ministry in addition to donating a backpack. Volunteers are needed to transport the backpacks to the distribution site and to process the backpacks before distribution.
Churches and associations are also needed to volunteer as collection sites on Nov. 5 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For a list of already existing collection sites throughout the state or to learn more about this opportunity, you may visit this page: ow.ly/tukh305iqCm. You can also phone Mark Abernathy of NCBM at (919) 459-5607 or email him at [email protected].
“Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” – Matthew 25:40