Published May 26, 2005
Some of the letters in the May 12th edition of the Index opposed the Awana program because it is not a Southern Baptist ministry.
I pastor a growing Southern Baptist church outside of Claxton. Six years ago, we were involved in RAs and GAs. I've held a sincere love for RAs since Bubba Maddox taught me as our RA leader at Silk Hope Baptist Church more than two decades ago.
Here at my church, we were not reaching a great number of kids in the church or in the community with our Wednesday night program. Neither was our participation, giving, or support of SBC missions work where it needed to be.
After much prayer and consideration, we decided to implement Awana at our church for the second time in several years. This time, we saw attendance on Wednesday nights increase five-fold almost immediately. As a result, our Sunday school grew (We were recognized as one of the 100 fastest growing churches by the GBC), our worship services grew, and we have seen many children and adults come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and be baptized.
Realizing the need to teach missions (and now with a larger body) we use the council time in Awana on Wednesday evenings to highlight SBC missions opportunities for our children. We have taken our youth to M-Fuge (LifeWay's summer missions camp for youth) for the last several years and have seen many of our students take an active role in missions who might never have been reached otherwise. We have had at least one student who has been called to full-time missions work in one of the M-Fuge camps. Several of our students will be going on an international M-Fuge trip to Ecuador next summer to not only learn about SBC missions first-hand, but to be SBC missionaries!
Our church is more missions-minded that we have ever been. Our giving to the Lottie Moon offering has tripled in the last two years, and we just signed twenty adults up for a mission trip to Ecuador for the winter of 2006. We have also trained our students in FAITH evangelism training and began teaching them "missions at home" as well as missions abroad.
I would not dare imply that we have "arrived" when it comes to evangelizing our community or the world. But I am saying that it is possible to use Awana to expand the Kingdom even though it is not an SBC ministry.
I support the work and the efforts of the Southern Baptist Convention one hundred percent! I also support Awana.
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