By Bro. William Carpenter
For the WPT
“Why are you guys doing this? I mean, are we doing something wrong?”
asked the lady in the parking of the Dollar General store in
Harrisville, W. Va.
Bro. Buddy Pepper of Crossroads Baptist Church and myself had been
there all morning passing out copies of the “Jesus” film along with
tracts and flyers inviting people to Easter services at Dawn’s Light
Church. This particular lady was a member the Baptist church in town
affiliated with the American Baptist Churches. She was now curious
why some people from Mississippi would come and plant a Southern
Baptist church in town.
I replied, “No ma’am. It’s not our desire to take away from anything
that any of the existing churches are doing. We’re here because we
want everybody in Ritchie County to have opportunity to hear the
Gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe that the best way to do so is by
having more churches to provide more opportunity for them to hear.”
This satisfied the lady as she replied, “I guess that makes sense
because in spite of what we’re doing there are lots of unchurched
people around here.”
This conversation captures the purpose of everything happening
between Webster County Baptist Association and Ritchie County, W. Va.
It is or should be our desire to give every person the opportunity to
hear the Gospel of Christ.
With that purpose in mind Southern Baptist missionary Chris Barrow
left Mississippi, taking his family to the mountains of West
Virginia. With that purpose in mind the churches of the Webster
Baptist Association pledged their support this last fall to assist
Bro. Chris, who is pastor of Dawn’s Light. With that purpose in mind
10 people from these churches went to Harrisville on March 4-8 of
Team members were Rita Cole, Ted Cole, Debbie Pepper and Bro. Charles
“Buddy” Pepper from Crossroads Baptist Church; Ann Stone, Barbara
Harden and Bro. William Carpenter from Mantee Baptist Church; and
Gary Smith, Cory Parish and Bro. Don Parish from Tomnolen Baptist
We went with the intention of passing out the “Jesus” film, tracts,
Bibles and information of the church. However, when we got there on
Monday night, March 4, we told Bro. Chris, “We have come with plans
to hand out this information, but you tell us what you most need and
that is what we have come to do.”
Bro. Chris responded, “We want you to pass out that information and
to make some personal contacts with people, but our most pressing
need right now is this building.” When Dawn’s Light Church started
meeting in November, it became the first Southern Baptist church to
meet in Ritchie County.
‘Whatever It Takes’
At the time members were meeting in two rooms approximately 20 feet
by 30 feet. Since November they had been consistently having 14-20
meet with them on Sundays. Bro. Chris had been looking for a larger
space to have worship services, and God had provided. A daycare that
had been meeting in that very building moved out, and the owner told
Bro. Chris that if he wanted the space he could rent it at a
Having space now, Dawn’s Light Church had been working to convert
into usable space for worship and Sunday School.
When the 10 of us arrived from Mississippi they had just finished
walling in the sanctuary. God had now provided some laborers to help
finish the task. We took Monday and Wednesday to prime walls,
covering up the murals from the daycare so that a later group could
paint the walls the way the church wanted them. Others in our group
tore out some walls and walled in Sunday School rooms and storage
Bro. Don Parish and his son Cory from Tomnolen Baptist Church wired
the building, installing light fixtures, electrical outlets and
switches. While we went expecting to do one thing, God had other
purposes in mind and provided skillful people who were electricians
and carpenters to do the work that actually needed to be accomplished.
On Thursday, we actually were able to go into the community, meet
people and invite them to Dawn’s Light Church. Some of us went to the
local pizza parlor, others went door to door at a couple of apartment
complexes, and Bro. Buddy and myself ended up at the Dollar General.
By the end of the day we had met numerous different people, had some
good conversations and some not-so-good conversations, and had passed
out around 350 copies of the “Jesus” film.
Our theme for the week became the theme that is being emphasized by
the Southern Baptist’s North American Mission Board (which is
supporting Bro. Chris): “Whatever It Takes.” Ten individuals from
Webster County went to West Virginia with the purpose of doing
whatever it takes to share the Gospel with the people of Ritchie County.
First Baptist Church of Eupora is planning a summer mission trip to
Dawn’s Light Church in West Virginia to help continue the work
started by the Webster Association team. Plans for the trip will
include backyard Bible clubs and possible construction projects.
Last September, Pastor Travis Gray and four members of FBC Eupora
traveled to Ritchie County to help Barrow and his family as he made
plans to hold his first worship service in November.
“As I walked the streets of Ritchie County or walk the streets of
Webster County, I’m reminded of our responsibility to share the
gospel of Jesus,” Gray said. “It is my prayer that we as Christians
will accept the challenge that makes a difference for eternity. (We
want) to help them in any way possible to carry out the Great
To join the trip or make a donation to the summer mission trip with
FBC Eupora, call the church office at 258-3491.
The Rev. William Carpenter is pastor of Mantee Baptist Church.