Exasperation permeated the atmosphere in the room as the Mission Team struggled with their belief in missions and the continued decline of their church attendance. The church treasurer, a member of the Mission Team carefully explained to me that their church gave thirty percent (30%) of their undesignated offerings to missions. Another member shared with me about their multiple overseas mission trips where they worked with missionaries who related to Southern Baptists. The pastor shared that the church was a leader church in their state convention in giving through the Cooperative Program to missions. Still, the question of why “God was not blessing their mission-minded church” continued to linger in the air.
I asked, what for me was the obvious question, “What are you doing to reach your community and the United States with the gospel?” Silence filled the room. No one spoke as the members just stared at me. Finally, the pastor spoke and said, “All our mission efforts are in reaching the unreached people groups in our world.”
“So,” I asked, “you do not consider America with over 230 million unchurched people to be a mission field?” I chose not to press the issue of an even greater number of Americans who are lost or have not entered a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the new birth.
Then I explained my conviction. The urgent need to reach men, women, boys, girls, and youth with the Gospel of Jesus Christ has never been greater. The United States of America is in a steep moral and spiritual decline, like no other time in our history. According to Evangelist Leighton Ford, “North America is now the largest mission field in the English-speaking world and the third largest mission field after China and India. We are in a mission situation in our own country!”
To their shock, I told them that the USA is no longer the main missionary-sending nation in the world. Instead, we have become a major mission field. Nations once considered by American Christians to be primary mission fields are now sending missionaries to us. All around us are those who have little or no knowledge of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. I explained that Appalachian Mountain Ministry works in parts of the USA where less than two percent (2%) of the population has entered a personal relationship with Christ.
The tone of the meeting changed as the team members began to ask how they could become involved in missions here in the USA. I responded by reminding the team that the Great Commission is not an either-or command but an inclusive command that calls for us to reach our community, our nation and around the world. You do not sacrifice one part of the command of Jesus to be obedient to another part of the command. Further, I stated that you do not focus on the cities at the expense of the rural areas or the well-educated and wealthier communities at the expense of the poorer and drug-infested communities. The last time I checked, I explained, the command of Christ was to go to all people.
Perhaps you, like my friends on that Mission Team have been so focused on “missions over there that you forgot about missions around here.” While Appalachian Mountain Ministry cannot help you with missions overseas, Canada, or areas outside of Appalachia, we can help you find a mission opportunity within the 12-state region that we serve. The region contains small rural communities and metropolitan cities, urban areas and inner-city boroughs, all of which contain physical and spiritual needs, lostness and poverty.
Whether you are looking for a short-term mission trip or a site where you can make a long-term missional commitment, Appalachian Mountain Ministry exists to assist Southern Baptists in finding a mission field close to home. The focus of our work is with existing smaller membership churches and new church starts that request assistance in reaching their communities for Christ and with compassion ministry sites. The ministry sites will range from food and clothing ministries to crisis pregnancy centers; from rural communities in the heart of Appalachia to inner-city ministries working with the homeless.
What are some ways you can become involved in your Appalachian mission field?
At the heart of what we do in Appalachian missions, from feeding the poor to working with new church starts, is prayer. Prayer to the Heavenly Father for specific churches and ministries, the challenges facing that church or ministry, and for those without Christ in Appalachia. Often our prayers to the Father include praying for the needed resources to accomplish His will.
As churches and individuals pray for specific ministries in Appalachia, the cards, emails, or telephone calls tell a worker they are being remembered in prayer. It is vital and often provides the encouragement a worker needs for that moment. Here are ideas for you to use in praying:
- Use the current mission project manual and pray for each project request.
- Pray for the ministry center sites and for those who serve there. You can find that information in the project manual on the Missional Opportunities page or by contacting us.
- Pray over the towns, cities, and counties in Appalachia. The focus areas are New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. Pray that God will raise up workers to go into these areas to serve. Pray that the lost will come to know the Savior.
- Contact AMM for current prayer requests and prayer needs.
Through Short-Term Mission Trips
“Hands-on missions” is exciting and is a wonderful way to teach, in a practical way, missions. Through Appalachian Mountain Ministry (AMM) multiple mission experiences are available ranging from a weekend mission trip to a week-long mission experience. In some cases, we have been able to arrange a one-day missions experience for children.
- For children plan a one-day VBS or Backyard Bible Club, a block party, a sports camp, or a Day Camp. Be creative in your planning. One church came and spent the day teaching older children how to play board games and learning how to interact with other children their age.
- Work with a ministry site and plan special events such as a lady’s retreat involving ladies from your Woman’s Missionary Union or Women’s Ministry organization and ladies from the ministry site. Other events could be a youth or children’s event, prayer walking a small town or a community, or participating in a specialized block party.
- Plan a week-long mission trip utilizing one of the projects listed in the AMM project manual.
- Do a focused mission project. Some groups have taken medical mission trips, others have taught cooking classes, or sewing classes. Often focused mission projects can be arranged around your gifts and skills.
- Form a long-term partnership that leads to multiple mission trips to the same site throughout the year for a period of three to seven years.
- For more ideas on what you can do on a mission trip to Appalachia, download our list of “99 Ways to Serve” on our Resources page.
Getting Involved In Your Mission Field
For more information on Appalachian Mountain Ministry or for assistance in finding your next missional opportunity in Appalachia, contact us.
Appalachian Mountain Ministry is a ministry of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board serving the Appalachian mountain range and works in partnership with the National WMU and the thirteen state conventions within the region. The national director, Bill Barker, is a state missionary with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. AMM is funded through the Cooperative Program and Mission Georgia. Unless otherwise designated, one-hundred percent (100%) of all donations to AMM go to feed hungry children in Appalachia.