Published December 16, 2004
BEAVER, UTAH - Robert LeRoy Parker, alias "Butch Cassidy," is remembered in folklore as the "Robin Hood of the West." "Cassidy" and his partner in crime, Harry Longabaugh, better known as the "Sundance Kid," put together one of the longest sequences of bank and train robberies in the history of the American West.
Cassidy was born on April 15, 1866, in Beaver, Utah and raised by Mormon pioneer parents on a ranch near Circleville, Utah. However, it is Beaver that has become the site of the annual Butch Cassidy Festival. The festival includes a 10 K run, pie eating and hog calling contests, Jell-O slides, live bands and a myriad of activities.
First Baptist Church of Cedar City, Utah recently started a church in Beaver under the leadership of Pastor Richard Ballard. A missions team from Beech Haven Baptist Church in Athens got there just in time to minister during the Butch Cassidy Festival.
The Beech Haven mission volunteers operated two booths, handed out water and popcorn, provided face painting, clowning and marshmallow target shooting. They also participated in the pie eating and hog calling contests. But even more importantly they distributed gospel tracts, copies of "The Hope" video; and shared a considerable amount of "good will" on behalf of the First Baptist Church of Beaver.
After showering Christ's love upon the residents, the Beech Haven missionaries traveled south to Cedar City where they canvassed many of the neighborhoods, visited in hundreds of homes and identified many prospects for the church.
Stewart Simms, the Beech Haven pastor who accompanied the mission team and preached three times at First Baptist in Cedar City, said, "I was impressed with both the stark beauty of the area and the spiritual barrenness that prevailed. In spite of that barrenness we were warmly received, which I interpreted as an indication of the Spirit of God working in our midst.
"We did a lot of witnessing on the street and the people were incredibly receptive. We anticipated opposition to what we were trying to do, but God broke down a lot of barriers."
The Beech Haven team not only witnessed, but also rolled up their sleeves in hard work. First Cedar City uses firewood to heat both the church and parsonage during the cold winter months. Pastor Ballard recently ruptured a disc in his back and consequently is not able to cut the wood necessary to keep the church and parsonage warm.
In response, a combination of youth and adults were assigned the project of providing the firewood. The teenagers helped to cut, haul (from more than 50 miles away), split and stack 15 cords of firewood.
A family affair
Ryan Adolphson, a Beech Haven layman, decided to make the Utah mission trip a family affair with his wife, Jennifer, and eight-year-old son, Mitchell. "It was a great learning experience for all of us, especially my son," Adolphson commented. "Mitchell now has a very good understanding of missions and the need for missionaries not only internationally, but here at home.
"Missions opportunities like this have an incredible impact on the life of a church and the individuals involved in the trip. It is a great thing to see God at work in people's lives."
Jim Ballard, director of missions for Color Country Association, which includes Beaver and Cedar City, said, "I have worked with 69 different mission groups in 31 years of ministry in the West. The team from Beech Haven accomplished far more than any mission group I have ever encountered."
The DOM recalled, "The Beech Haven team assisted in passing out 2,792 bottles of water, 3,300 gospel tracts, surveyed hundreds of homes and gave out 300 of "The Hope" videos.
Some of the Beech Haven mission team members went to another site to repair and paint Milford Baptist Church. The church was closed last year, but the facilities were refurbished with the fervent prayer that the Lord would send a church planter there to begin a new work.
Georgia Baptists are responding to our missions partnerships, but there is much to be done and opportunities in abundance. Churches or individuals interested in becoming involved in one of our missions' partnerships should call Michael Gravette, GBC's Mission Volunteers Ministries specialist, at (770) 936-5344 or 1 (800) RING-GBC.
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