CHARLESTON—First Baptist Church here is a giving congregation.
“This has always been a strong mission-giving church,” Michael Brewer, pastor, said. “But with the economy, it was a surprise when the congregation gave $11,314 for Lottie Moon this year because of their heart.”
The significance of the large gift to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering comes with the realization that church attendance runs between 100-110 people with Sunday School attendance between 90-100. This area has also been hard hit by the economy.
“This is an agricultural community,” Brewer said. “Our farmers were the ones who had their land flooded when they flooded the levee. At the beginning of the year, we didn’t know what to expect, but God blessed.
“We always treat our Lottie Moon offering like building a house. We use our goal as the floor, not the ceiling.”
Brewer also said First Charleston is active in missions.
“We are a giving, going, and doing missions church,” he said. “We give 25 percent of our budget to missions. We help support two mission couples, one with Aviation Fellowship and one with the North American Mission Board with one-half percent, and the other 241/2 percent we give to the Cooperative Program (CP).”
The going and doing describes the church’s annual mission trip to Alaska.
“We began five years ago,” Brewer said, “by going to First Native Church in Anchorage, Alaska, to replace the baptistery in the church and do other repairs. While we were there, a member of the Anchorage church said, ‘no one ever comes to my home church,’ so immediately, we were interested.”
The members of First Charleston soon discovered that her home
church was in Napakiak Village in Napakiak, Alaska.
“We’ve been going to Napakiak for the last four years,” Brewer said.
Eddie Barnhill and his wife, Mary, are two First Charleston members who are regular participants on the Alaska mission trips.
“This is a remote area,” Eddie Barnhill said. “It takes three planes and a boat ride to get to the village. When we arrive in Bethel, the fishermen meet us in boats to take us the rest of the way.”
The villagers are native Eskimos and speak the native language, Yupic. The village is 400 miles west of Anchorage.
“It is a subsistence lifestyle,” he said. “They live off of berries and fish.”
The mission team conducted Vacation Bible School (VBS) for the children and they did carpentry in homes and church.
“We also took a couple Sports Crusaders girls with us,” Barnhill said. “They were able to have basketball camps to connect with teens, one for middle school teens and one for high school.”
Barnhill said that the consistent mission trips have had an impact on the people of Napakiak.
“These are proud and loving people,” he said. “They readily accepted us on the first trip, but on the recent trip, one of the fishermen picked us up and said, ‘Welcome Back Home.’ It was special to hear that they considered this our second home.”