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The only church they know

 

Sherri Brown

400 pancakes.
22 pounds of sausage.
20 dozen eggs.
10 pounds of cheese grits.
18 gallons of orange juice.

That’s what it takes to feed breakfast to more than 250 students at Telfair County Middle School. Twice a month members of a church in Telfair Association take their turn at feeding an early morning meal to about 80 percent of the students at the school. By the time the last bit of pancake has sopped up the syrup and the last drop of juice is gone, the students are ready to hear a message from God’s Word before they start the day.

The popular gathering began five years ago as a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meet-ing. Middle school teacher and coach Brad Puckett was asked to start an FCA group at the school.

“I started it and once or twice a month we had about five kids meet after school for 30 minutes,” Puckett said. The next year, the school decided to hold all group meetings twice a month during school hours – for 15 minutes.

“We wanted to meet long enough to have a speaker, so we decided to meet before school,” Puckett said. That worked for a while, but with so many students stopping in the lunchroom first for their free breakfast, there was still too little time for a quality program.

May 17-23 is associational missions emphasis week, recognizing the work of the 92 Georgia Baptist associations.

Pray for:

· Your association.

· Your associational missionary

· Your associational leaders

GBC Associational Missions Ministries partners with local associations to develop healthy kingdom churches and ministries. For more information, contact GBC Associational Missions Ministries Specialist Frank Nuckolls at fnuckolls@gabaptist.org, (770) 936-5220, (800) RING GBC.

Associational missions ministries is possible because of your gifts to the Cooperative Program. You and your church may send Cooperative Program Offerings to:

Dr. J. Robert White
Exec. Dir., GBC
6405 Sugarloaf Parkway
Duluth, GA 30097

In Telfair County, almost 100 percent of the students in the public school are on a free lunch program. That’s not surprising for the second poorest county in the state. It’s also one of Georgia’s smallest counties, with less than 12,000 people. The Baptist association, led by associational missionary Alvin Lewis, is one of the smallest as well with just 16 churches.

But “small” doesn’t reflect the hearts of local Baptists. When the lunchroom breakfast took too long, they decided to provide their own breakfast, letting students eat during the meeting if necessary. Churches signed up on alternate weeks to provide the home-cooked breakfast and find a speaker for the 30-minute meetings, now held in a modular classroom.

The first morning, 17 students ate breakfast.

“That wasn’t hard, fixing breakfast for 17, but it took off. In no time we had standing room only in the modular [classroom],” said Joy Henderson, a member of Helena Baptist Church who keeps the breakfast schedule for all the FCA meetings. “We wanted to use the gym, but they wouldn’t let us eat in it.”

By now there was a regular group of volunteers and they decided, “If God wants us in the gym, we’ll be in the gym,” Puckett said.

The next fall a new head coach arrived at the school and he quickly agreed to open the gym for the breakfast and FCA meeting. Soon, as many as 250 of the school’s 380 students began to show up regularly. The scrambled eggs and cheese grits increased as well.

It wasn’t long before the effects of the weekly FCA breakfast meetings spilled out into the school hallways.

“There’s a workroom across from my classroom,” Puckett said. “We started calling it the chapel. On a Wednesday morning a kid got saved and by second period he’d brought his friend to me. I went across the hall and prayed with him to receive Christ.”

It shows in other ways as well. It’s not surprising to see kids carrying Bibles along with math and biology books. One student chose to write about FCA as an English assignment.

“The teacher showed it to me. He wrote about how FCA had saved him,” Puckett said. It wasn’t long before Puckett and others realized that for many of the kids, this was their only “church” they knew. They started working to connect the students who became new Christians to local churches.

There has been a significant increase in church attendance, associational missionary Lewis said. That’s a good thing.

“In this county, the children will have to lead the parents,” Lewis said.

In fact, they already have. Just weeks ago, the association broke history with its first revival ever held jointly with both a white church and an African American church.

 

Sherri Brown

Tonia Briley, a member of Scotland Baptist church, doles out sausage on a recent morning.

Sherri Brown

It takes a lot of volunteers and scrambled eggs to feed about 250 middle school students twice a month. Tim White, above, scoops out eggs before an FCA meeting. White is a member of Scotland Baptist Church in Scotland.

Sherri Brown

Eddie and Abbie Locke, from Scotland Baptist Church, serve during the breakfast line. Members from all 16 churches in Telfair Baptist Association have been involved in the ministry.