Posted: 3/10/20 at 1:50pm. Post by Tony Brooks.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17 NIV)
What would it look like if all churches in BGAV life shared what they are doing outside the church to share ministry? Here is an example:
In 2014 we highlighted a ministry about a firewood ministry. I was not the field strategist at the time, but I loved the story.
I met with John Wallisky, chair of the firewood ministry at Rustburg Baptist on February 21, 2020, for lunch to get updates based on a story that took place in November (I’ll write about the rest of that story soon). John and his wife, Ruth, are involved in several BGAV ministries.
Rustburg Baptist has been doing their firewood ministry since 2004, according to our records. They were doing this as a church vision and wondered where all of the wood would come from. They worked hard to get wood to families who use wood as their only heat source. They met once a month from September to March on a Saturday to cut wood and send it out to families who needed it. John and his wife, Ruth, would spend days taking wood to families, and sometimes that was 150 miles a day. Jimmy Cole also would deliver wood during the week.
The church realized that this ministry was growing. The Lynchburg Baptist Association got involved through Kingdom Builders, who help split wood. John and his family have always been involved in wood splitting and creating. (Ruth and John do special creations at the community market in Lynchburg each November and December.) Many of John’s family members are carpenters. They try to split wood once a month from September to March and have special days they call Push Days. Ruth provides lunch for those who help.
John has a great system: He has created an Excel spreadsheet for all their customers. They helped 24 families this winter with 46 loads of wood. Every 30 days, they send wood to people who use it as their only heat source.
Suddenly word got out about their ministry. Monster Tree Service and many other businesses provided wood. They have enough wood to help people for the next few years!
Here is where I come in as field strategist and the rest of the story. I would love for every field strategist to know what your church is doing in your community. How can we partner with other BGAV churches to meet needs?
I was called on a Saturday in November by Rick Cole, Pastor of Rustburg Baptist. I normally don’t answer my phone on Saturdays but thought this was important. Rick let me know there was a family in Amherst County that needed wood, but their ministry doesn’t extend that far. That same week, I had a peer learning group of pastors and discovered Greg McCormick, Pastor of Woodland Baptist in Arrington (Amherst County) had started a wood ministry. I let Rick know, and John called him.
On November 2, 2019 the people of Woodland Baptist church gathered to cut, split, load, and deliver firewood to families in our community. We witnessed God at work through the willingness and collaboration of sister churches and communities in a powerful way that day.
Here is the rest of the story from Greg:
As I was standing on sawdust-laden ground, I received a phone call that morning from an unknown number. It was from John Wallisky, a member of Rustburg Baptist Church. He asked me if we had a firewood ministry. Smiling, I replied, “Yes sir.” He informed me that his church had received a call from a lady in our proximity who was in need of firewood. Their church had an ongoing firewood ministry, but it would be quite a distance (approx. 45 min drive) for them to travel to deliver wood to her. While having breakfast with his pastor that morning, he learned that Woodland Baptist Church had recently started a firewood ministry and perhaps they could help out. So having gotten my number from Tony, he decided to give me a call.
I paused just a moment and asked if he had any idea what I was doing at the moment. His puzzled response told me he definitely did not. When I informed him we were in the midst of preparing and delivering firewood to people in our community, it became an especially meaningful moment. He gave me the address and phone number of the lady who had requested the wood. I assured him we would deliver her a load of wood that day.
I tried to call the lady numerous times but got no answer. I wanted to make sure there would be someone there to receive the wood. A couple of hours went by and still I could not reach anyone. After some time we decided to just take the wood anyway. After driving down several small, curvy, country roads— we came to the address we had been given. I backed the dump truck into the driveway and a lady comes out, obviously overcome with emotion, “Is that for me?” she asked.
Yes ma’am, we heard you needed some firewood. After a round of hugs, she insisted we come inside. “I want to show you something,” she said. She pointed to a woodstove in the corner of the drafty log building, telling us this was their only source of heat. She had prayed specifically that God would provide wood for them that day. She had less than a dozen sticks of firewood left. We left this lady and her children with the blessing of a bigger load of firewood than they expected, and God left us with assurance that God had used two churches over 30 miles apart who were willing to work together to answer a prayer and meet a need.
It is truly a special experience to be used by God and to feel the connection to other churches and other brothers and sisters in Christ, through our willingness to be used by God.