Last summer, when her last name was still Hodges, Sarah Stalls addressed a letter to N.C. Baptist Men (NCBM)/Baptists on Mission with a check enclosed.
Such a donation would normally not be out of place, especially with the North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO) emphasis right around the corner.
But something set this particular gift apart for Richard Brunson, the executive director of NCBM: Sarah and her then-fiance, Bobby, had opted to make this donation to NCBM ministries instead of receiving gifts from guests at their upcoming wedding shower.
On their shower invitations, Sarah and Bobby had asked that in lieu of gifts, guests make a donation to one of three charities associated with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina: Baptist Men Disaster Relief, Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina and Door of Hope.
“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Brunson said. “This is a very unique gift, and we are very grateful.”
Sarah and Bobby Stalls were married last October, and it was their extensive and personal backgrounds with these organizations that led the couple to include them on their shower invitations.
Sarah’s father, John Manning Hodges, who passed away in 2011, gave much of his time to NCBM Disaster Relief after his retirement. He volunteered on the North Carolina coast, and Sarah wanted the donation to be a way to remember him and honor the legacy that he left.
Sarah, who currently serves as the public information officer for Beaufort County Schools and has worked in the communications industry for many years, also said that she saw NCBM Disaster Relief come to the aid of others while she worked in television and would cover natural disasters in eastern North Carolina.
“The (Baptist Men) Disaster Relief trucks were the first to arrive,” Sarah said. “I saw that pattern, and I believe other people did.”
Bobby also had some firsthand experience with Baptist Men Disaster Relief. He worked on the coast with Department of Transportation during Hurricane Irene and said the impact that the group made was tangible. Bobby recalled that the Baptist Men Disaster Relief tents were the only place to get a hot meal or wash clothes in the area.
The other two organizations that Sarah and Bobby listed – Door of Hope and Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina – also hold a special place in their hearts. Bobby was adopted as a child and encountered Door of Hope, an adoption ministry, on a short-term mission trip in South Africa.
The couple listed Baptist Children’s Homes on their invitations for a similar reason: they want to give children a chance to have a better future. “If someone hadn’t taken a chance on Bobby, we wouldn’t be here right now,” Sarah said.
The church that the two attend, Piney Grove Baptist Church in Williamston, has always taken a great interest in missions, the Stalls said. For them, the attitude of giving in their church was influential in their decision to include these organizations as options for their guests.
This isn’t the first time that the two have donated to NCBM, however. A year after Hurricane Irene hit, Bobby retired from the Department of Transportation. He knew he would receive a retirement gift from his coworkers, and he requested that they instead make a donation to NCBM Disaster Relief.
“People just want the opportunity to help,” Bobby said. “We just gave them an outlet to do that.”
“The only thing that would make this whole process better would be if someone was inspired to go out on a limb and do something similar,” Sarah added. “Don’t hesitate to go outside the box a little bit, even if it’s something small.”