ATLANTA – In many rural communities across Missouri, families burn wood as their primary or secondary heating source. One northern Missouri church supplies firewood to needy families as a way of reaching out with God’s love.
First Baptist Church, Atlanta, created a “woodcutting ministry” three years ago as a way to help out some of their members and it spread into an outreach ministry for folks in the area who were having trouble cutting or buying the wood needed for their stoves and fireplaces.
FBC Pastor Chance Glenn said they realized that some people needed wood and the church organized the effort among the men of the church.
“We had one or two people needing help,” he said. “It just kind of grew from there.”
The church men’s group recognized there were people in their Macon County community of approximately 400 people who burned wood and were having trouble getting enough stockpiled. They felt there was a ministry there that the church could provide for the wood needs of these families.
Richard Young, one of the members of the group said, “We just enjoy cutting down the trees, hauling the wood, providing wood for the people. We started hauling it for our own congregation. We found others (outside the church) needing it so we helped them too.”
“We have thought maybe it would be a good idea to put an ad in the paper next year,” he said. Most people hear about it and call, or referrals are made by other church members.
It is not just older folks who are in need of the wood. The woodcutting ministry has helped single moms, families where the husband is out driving a truck over the road, young families—all of whom needed a little extra help. Some families had difficulty purchasing wood, and the woodcutting ministry has allowed them to save money for their other needs. Some retired ministers in the community have also benefited from the wood as well.
Woodcutter Bud Adkins said, “I’ve had such a blessing out of it. We’ve got a bunch of guys that love the Lord. We get more of a blessing than the people who get the wood. We have prayer before we start cutting. Sometimes our wives will bring something out for us to eat. Most of us are retired, and we cut throughout the week, but sometimes on weekends the younger guys can be there.
“Lots of us have log splitters,” Adkins added. “It’s good exercise too. Everyone thinks it’s nice to be out in the woods.”
Organizers say the people receiving the wood are very grateful.
“It has been a great open door for us to share the love of God with them,” Pastor Glenn said. “There are some of these people who have attended our church as a result of us bringing them wood.”
Adkins summed it up, saying, “We just want them to see that we love the Lord, and we hope they will come to love the Lord too.”