Published April 21, 2011
DOUGLAS — Seventy three-year-old pastor Marvin Holladay loves his church. Northside Baptist in Douglas reciprocates with a deep and an abiding love for him. It is a marriage made in heaven.
Northside Baptist Church is not large. In fact, the church only has 135 members and a Sunday School enrollment of 60. However, this small Georgia Baptist church is one of God’s mighty mites.
Anyone attempting to track Northside’s myriad of ministries just might need to have access to a calculator, or at least an abacus, to enumerate all the good things taking place in the life of the church.
Holladay, with 45 years of ministry experience, was called to the Douglas congregation in March of 2003. His love and care for the flock God has entrusted to him has been mutually beneficial to him and the church.
“We have been overwhelmed with love, care and provisions from this wonderful group of people,” Holladay explained.
The Northside pastor, who is a member of the GBC Executive Committee, continued, “Every year the church recognizes ‘Pastor Appreciation Month’ in October. We have received many expressions of appreciation during this time, such as cards, letters, flowers, food, gift cards, suits of clothing, computers (desktop and laptop) and in 2010 we received a car. Also, they have provided lucrative Christmas bonuses for us each year.
“Not only do they show their love by their many gifts, but they often express their love verbally and by their willing spirit in service to the Lord and His church.”
Ray Coleman, director of missions for the Smyrna Baptist Association, commented, “Northside has committees and regular business meetings, but they pray about their decisions in a serious way and usually come to a true congregational consensus on their mission activities. As a result, there is a high degree of ownership, even among people not so directly involved. Each ministry is ‘our’ ministry, not what ‘they’ are doing. They model an Acts 1:8 mentality.”
Coleman continued, “Brother Marvin is willing to use his own gifts in ministry, but also has a way of encouraging others to use theirs. He is willing to get in the middle of things in a ‘hands on’ way, but he is also willing to step aside and let others use their gifts in leadership and service.”
Dave and Joyce Morse, the fellowship and ministry coordinators for the church, express joy over the church’s response to opportunities for service.
During the first quarter of every year Northside church members are urged to save pocket change (paper money and checks are also accepted) in jars to purchase NIV Quest Study Bibles for Calhoun State Prison chaplain Rodney Stamey to distribute to inmates. An anonymous donor matches whatever amount the church collects. This year the church received a total of $1,924.42 and purchased 100 Bibles.
The church has been providing the study Bibles for 12 years and thus far they have purchased 388 English Bibles and 41 Spanish Bibles for a total of 429 copies of the Word of God. The Bibles usually retail for $35 each, but the church is able to purchase them at cost.
At the end of the Bible purchasing project each year Northside has a church-wide celebration when prizes are given to members who guess closest to the amount of change given and the weight of the money.
In addition to emphasizing the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions in the springtime, each May Northside members are urged to bring cans of Kool-Aid drink mix for use by the Hope Center in Douglas. The Hope Center ministers primarily in the Oak Park area of Douglas where there are hundreds of children and youth who are the victims of emotional, physical and material deprivation. The amount of Kool-Aid donated by the Northside members is usually enough for the Center’s after-school and summer programs for the entire school year.
Pure devotion to missions
The church’s goal is to provide one pound of drink mix for each member on roll at the Center. In 2010, which was the ninth year for this ministry, the church provided 110 pounds of the drink mix. To date the church has given to the Center more than half a ton of the drink mix – 1,125 pounds. Believing in good Christian fellowship, the church celebrates the completion of this project each year with a “Down Home Dinner.”
In July and August the church saves pocket change (plus cash and checks) in water jugs for the National WMU’s “Pure Water, Pure Love” project. Since 1997 WMU has been meeting one of the most basic human needs of missionaries through “Pure Water, Pure Love.” The goal of this ministry is to provide missionaries and the people they serve with clean drinking water, free from disease-causing microorganisms, at no cost to them.
Last year Northside gave $3580.40 to this project with the aid of an anonymous donor who matched what the church collected in the water jugs. This was the sixth year the church had participated in this project and to date have provided for 37 pure water systems.
The happy fellowship at Northside celebrates the end of this project each year with a Luau, where prizes are given to members who guess closest to the amount given and the weight of the money collected.
In April or September members of Northside are urged to bring new socks for the children and teens at Georgia Baptist Children’s Home in Baxley. Prizes are given for the prettiest socks, most unusual socks, and the socks purchased the farthest away (like France, Africa or California) from Douglas. More than 200 socks were donated in 2010 and in the nine years this project has been in effect 2,600 socks have been donated. You guessed it; a special fellowship is planned to celebrate the end of this project.
In November and December the church promotes the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, but also provides Sunday School classes with Christmas catalogues from Samaritan’s Purse to encourage them to consider a project to which their individual class may contribute during the Christmas season.
The church contributed $627 to various projects in 2010, but during the six years the church has been engaged with Samaritan’s Purse, the classes have provided milk goats and other dairy animals for destitute families, baby chicks for a family in poverty, water filters, hot meals, bicycles for pastors, disaster relief equipment, Bibles, Christian literature and a variety of other things.
In September of 2009 Northside started a Kid’s Day Out program. Carlene Phelps, the church’s outreach director, stated, “I looked out over the congregation and saw a lot of white hair. This Kid’s Day Out program is God’s way of correcting that situation.”
The purpose of the program is to give church members an opportunity to show God’s love to families in their community by offering a caring environment for children one afternoon a week so that parents, grandparents or the children’s guardians can have the afternoon free to do grocery shopping, run errands, etc.
The church provides wholesome fellowship and fun for the children as well as a quiet environment for homework and tutoring sessions.
The after-school program started with 3-5 children, but has grown in one year to a total of 16 enrolled and an average attendance of 13. Dinner is provided for all those enrolled in the Kid’s Day Out program and parents can pick up their children after the dinner hour or stay with the children for their Wednesday evening church activities.
Today many of the church members contribute to this ministry in some significant way. In the beginning all the workers except two were over 65 years of age. Now, a diverse-aged group of adults help with this ministry. Some of the men of the church have made open lockers for the children and more are being made to meet the growing enrollment. In March $6,700 was given to provide equipment for the children’s playground.
Through the years Northside has contributed to many short-term projects, such as Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief, Georgia Baptists’ coats for North Korean children, the flood relief seed project for Malawi and transportation for African pastors.
The church has also given 14 Buckets of Hope for Haiti earthquake relief. Northside members have also gone to Mexico on short-term mission trips and been involved in a Katrina rebuilding trip.
In addition to all the above, the church with undesignated receipts of $111,418.00 last year gave $15,967.00 (14.3 percent) to the Cooperative Program and $4,111.00 (3.6 percent) to the Smyrna Baptist Association.
The church is now considering the possibility of erecting a giant 40-foot cross with floodlights to illuminate it by night so that whether folks drive by the church during the day or by night they will be reminded of what Jesus did for hopeless and helpless sinners. Northside should remind us all that little is much when God is in it.
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