Faithful Inasmuch Church Rises from the Ashes

2015 fire @ Bethlehem Baptist

Just weeks after completing their seventh year of conducting an Inasmuch Day on July 18, 2015, most of Bethlehem Baptist Church of Taylorsville, NC was destroyed by fire. All that was left was the lower part of the fellowship hall. For several months while smoke damage was repaired, the church met at a nearby elementary school. However, before the year was over, they were able to meet again on the church property in what was left and salvaged of the fellowship area.

For over four years the church continued to make do while new facilities were built and on Sunday, August 4, 2019 the new sanctuary was dedicated and fully in use. Through those years of rebuilding from the ashes, the church continued to faithfully conduct their annual Inasmuch Day. As coordinator, Milton Good, said, “we never once thought about not doing Operation Inasmuch. It is so much a part of who we are and what we do. It is fulfilling one of Jesus’ commands from Matthew 25:40…to do unto the least of these.”

Milton Good – Inasmuch Coordinator

Milton has been the coordinator from the very beginning in 2008. “I’ve been the recipient of compassion ministry and can’t imagine not being able to serve others.” In 1999 he and his family lost the family business of 50 years and were financially distressed. His house badly needed a new roof. But despite his own need, he accompanied a group of men from the church down to Gulfport, MS to help with rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina damaged the area three years earlier. Knowing Milton’s family’s need, that same crew started the very weekend they returned to Taylorsville to tear out and replace the Good’s house roof. “I’ve received, I will try to give back as long as I can keep going.”

For Bethlehem Baptist Church, Inasmuch is a whole church family affair. Children as young as four are involved with other elementary children in preparing hygiene bags for the homeless. Teenagers conduct a carwash and pay for and pump gas at a local service station. Adults of all ages help prepare and deliver fruit baskets to local assisted living facilities, but not for the residents, rather as a way of saying “thank you” to all the staff. Others “feed the machine” at local laundry mats. And the senior adults prepare food and bag lunches for Exodus Homes, a homeless ministry in nearby Hickory, NC.

Milton shared how honored he was this year when he delivered those food gifts for the residents of one of the Exodus Home facilities. As he shared, “you always go prepared to offer prayers for the residents when you share the gifts from the church.” But this year the residents insisted on circling him and praying for him and giving thanks for the church. “It was so humbling; it meant more than anyone could know to have those we think about being in need, wanting to bless us back.”

Milton and Bethlehem Baptist Church are such an Inasmuch inspiration! They’ve refused to be deterred from serving their neighbors as the hands and feet of Christ through compassion ministry. Milton said, “the community was willing to do whatever we needed at the church when we lost our facilities. We will always do Operation Inasmuch in order to give back and to serve.”

We are so grateful for those churches who have made Operation Inasmuch a priority and who understand the importance of doing what Jesus taught us to do. We are humbled when we hear of churches and leaders who are committed to continue serving their communities no matter what the challenges. May their tribe increase and flourish!

Unstoppable Jim Duncan Loved Inasmuch

Some people make an impression by their achievements and their honors. Some do so by their charisma or unique personality. And a few impress others by their character and perseverance. Jim Duncan of Fayetteville, NC was such a person.

Jim was born and raised in Alabama, fibbed about his age to join the Army as a teenager, rose through the ranks until he reached Command Sergeant Major (the highest rank for enlisted personnel), and retired after 27 years in the Army. He married the love of his life, Jean, when he was a teenager and these two shared 72 years together. The last 20 years of his life saw him struggle with emphysema and at least the last 10 years of his life he was tethered to an oxygen tank 24-7. On August 6, Jim Duncan was released from his struggle and ushered into that place God has held in reserve for him for almost all of his living days.

Jim was among the first to participate in Operation Inasmuch at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church of Fayetteville in 1995. For nearly 20 years, every time the church held an Inasmuch Day Jim and Jean were part of it. Most years Jim was involved in home repair projects because he was good with his hands and enjoyed that kind of work. The photo to the right shows Jim in one of his last Inasmuch projects. The large, dark object on his back is his oxygen tank. Hence the title “Unstoppable Jim Duncan.”

David Crocker, Founder of the Inasmuch ministry, participated in Jim’s funeral at Snyder Memorial. He pointed to this photo which was printed on the funeral program. He said, “This picture says exactly how I remember Jim Duncan. First, he was on a ladder working on an Inasmuch home repair project with an oxygen tank on his back. Most people wouldn’t do that. They would say ‘I can’t do that work anymore.’ Not Jim. Instead, he said ‘what needs doing here?’ and he set about doing it.”

Crocker went on, “The second thing this picture shows is that Jim wasn’t working on his own house, but someone else’s, probably someone he did not know but who needed what he and his fellow volunteers could do for them. Jim was motivated by compassion for anyone who needed what he could do for them. And finally, this was an Inasmuch project of which he was a part. Jim loved Operation Inasmuch. He recognized that Jesus’ followers are to carry on what the Savior did to help people. And he chaffed in his last years at the fact he could no longer participate.”

“I will never forget Jim Duncan.” says Crocker. “He epitomized the spirit of Operation Inasmuch. He and other key players in the early years inspired me… and still do.”

150,000 Meals Packed in Johnson City, TN

In 2018 as Central Baptist Church of Johnson City, TN began planning for their 150th anniversary in 2019, they talked about the usual aspects of such a celebration – remembering the great history of the church, having a huge dinner-on-the-grounds celebration, and so forth. But they also wanted a way to show their community how much they love them and how much God loves them.

They invited David Crocker (Inasmuch Founder and former pastor of CBC) to work with the 150th Anniversary Team specifically regarding a community-wide service event. He suggested that they conduct a food packing event in which 150,000 nutritional meals would be packed. Their immediate response was “Let’s do it!” On April 6, 2019, over 500 volunteers from Central Baptist Church, other area churches, and other groups in Johnson City packed 150,000 meals for the hungry people of Northeast Tennessee. View some pictures from the event here.

These meals were donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee serving eight counties in the northeast corner of TN. Second Harvest will distribute them through their normal channels of distribution over several months. Executive Director, Rhonda Chaffin, said: “Thousands of our neighbors in northeast TN will receive these meals. You have truly taken ‘a bite’ out of hunger through this event.” [Read more…]

Statistics… And Why They Matter

As a whole, people think they don’t like statistics and question how much they matter. Honestly, in some instances, statistics can be and are manipulated. For church leaders, if we’re not careful, too much emphasis can be placed on numbers, especially if we forget to associate those numbers with people.

Operation Inasmuch works to gather reports from churches and organizations who conduct Inasmuch Days and/or Inasmuch United events. Most churches help us with sharing their statistics; others wonder why we need or want them and question why anyone needs to know what they are achieving through compassion ministry in their own communities.

I should confess I like statistics. I believe they help us get a glimpse of the impact our efforts are having through ministry and serving. They help us see where we can improve. They help tell the story of Jesus’ followers seeking to “serve the un-served, love the un-loved, and reach the un-churched” through compassion ministry. [Read more…]

20% Increase in Attendance… WOW!

I don’t know of any church or church leader who wouldn’t want to experience a 20% increase in attendance. In less than a month after a compassion ministry project in their community, Union City Baptist Church, in a rural farming community near Richmond, KY, has reported their experience of that increase following an Inasmuch event conducted in September of this year. 

Union City Baptist has been conducting Inasmuch Days and Inasmuch United events with a neighboring church since its first effort in the spring of 2016. After that first Inasmuch Day the church committed to conducting two Inasmuch events each year – one in the spring and one in the fall. From May 2016 through September 2018 the church has produced a total of 200 volunteers who have worked over 1,600 hours on 21 projects. They have served nearly 1,200 of their neighbors at a community value of almost $41,000.

Those are the kinds of statistics a church can amass when it commits to be the hands, feet, eyes and heart of Jesus in their own communities. Union City Baptist has been averaging around 100 each week in worship and between 40-45 in Bible study before their last Inasmuch Day. In the weeks since, the church has experienced an increase of around 20 people each Sunday in both worship and Sunday School. “God is working in our church family and in our community,” according to Inasmuch church coordinator, Bill Hendricks. Bill added, “I believe people are impressed when churches work together and when they see men, especially, leading and serving.” In the Spring the Baptist church joins its neighbor Christian church in conducting projects involving all ages working together. [Read more…]

International Expressions of Operation Inasmuch

First Eastside Baptist Church Inasmuch Day

On Saturday August 4, I had the privilege of meeting Pastor Khem Arcojada, his mother, Aida, from the Philippines, and his sister and her family who now live in Virginia. Khem is the pastor of First Eastside Baptist Church in Valencia City, Bukidnon, Philippines where his father was the pastor until his death. The Arcojadas were in the US visiting family and were able to drop by to see our offices and to share how Inasmuch impacted their church and their community.

David Smith, formerly of the Radford area of Virginia, introduced the Inasmuch model in the Philippines and sponsored the Inasmuch Day at First Eastside in Valencia City. David now lives in the Philippines with his wife and her family.

Earlier in the summer we received a report from Rwenzori Organization for Children Living Under Difficult Circumstances (ROCDiC) in Kasese, Uganda. The first contact we had with Ivan, the director of the ministry for refugee young people, was a request for Operation Inasmuch shirts for them to wear as they served another ministry in their area. In early June the staff and residents of ROCDiC wanted to give back and chose to conduct an Inasmuch Day by serving the Burumbika Health Center. They completed several projects around the grounds and facilities there. View pictures from their event here. [Read more…]

Hundreds of Orphans Fed

For the second consecutive year, Operation Inasmuch is shipping 130,000 nutritious meals to Guatemala which will provide good food to many hundreds of orphans in that country. Operation Inasmuch has partnered with Orphans Resources International (PA) to make this food available to some of the most vulnerable people on the planet.

David Crocker, Founder of Operation Inasmuch, says: “We are extremely pleased to be able to provide so much nutritious food at no cost to Guatemalan children. Many of us have seen the devastation brought on by a major eruption in that poor country. Our hope is the food we have given will help alleviate some of the suffering there.”

Some of the children at these orphanages are shown in this article receiving the food donated by Inasmuch. The food is prepared on site and served warm to the children.

The Inasmuch ministry began offering food packing events to churches and other groups as an extension of our ministry five years ago. We did not seek this opportunity, but it is now clear that God brought it to us. Altogether Inasmuch has staged packing events in four states totaling about 750,000 meals… and most of these meals have gone to Guatemala. [Read more…]

Need + Passion = Lifestyle Compassion Ministry

Bill and Judi Willard had no intention of establishing a regular, long-term ministry to the veterans at the Veterans Restoration Quarters (VRQ) in Asheville, NC, when they agreed to prepare and serve breakfast one Saturday as one of the projects of the Beverly Hills Baptist Church (Asheville) Inasmuch Day, but that’s what happened. That was 2008. Ten years later they and friends from their church are preparing and serving a home-cooked meal to about 100 veterans once a month. (Judi is the youngest sister of David Crocker.)

David Crocker, Founder of the Inasmuch ministry, often says: “When we do what God tells us to do, He always has more in mind.” With the Willards, it was to serve up fried okra and/or pork loin and/or made-from-scratch cake or a variety of menus to the veterans at the VRQ every month for 10+ years.

The Willards have gotten their Sunday School Class involved, too. For a while the Willards were covering the costs of the meals they served but it became more than they could do, so they asked the class to help. Now the class totally covers the costs. Also, as many as 20 members of the class have served alongside the Willards from time to time. [Read more…]

Simply Show Up

Sometimes, all we need to do is share a story. Thanks to our friend, Hal Melton, Associate Pastor of Missions and Senior Adults at Trinity Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC for sharing this wonderful testimony from Rev. Elizabeth Burgess and the project she led on their Inasmuch Day April 25 of this year.

 

“Prior to departing for our Inasmuch Wake Med adventure, our group gathered to momentarily reflect on why we were going. More than a project, it was our hope that this morning would bring opportunities to share the love of God and the hope we have in Christ Jesus. Together we acknowledged that failure to bear and share fruit in the Christian life is to keep others from being blessed as God intended.

As it turned out, I believe our hospital visit that morning was on the calendar long before any one of us knew we would be going. Among our first encounters was a family going through a crisis. A member of our group found these weary and worn souls camping out in the critical care waiting area. For them, a warm breakfast provided much needed comfort and sustainment. Our team members with the gift of hospitality were quick to serve. Others stepped up to offer words of encouragement. [Read more…]

Leaving Our Mark on the Community

West Cabarrus Church in Concord, NC is one of dozens of churches who conducted an Inasmuch Day as part of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention statewide emphasis held the last weekend of April and the first weekend of May this year. From as early as 2013 the church has found that Operation Inasmuch is a valuable tool for mobilizing large numbers of their members into the community.

“West Cabarrus Church is a regional church, drawing members from a large area near the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Concord Mills Mall and we wanted to draw our circle a bit tighter to minister to those who live closest to us,” according to Pastor to Students and Families, Charlie Cole who served as the event coordinator. He continued, “we found a trailer park very near the church housing primarily Hispanic families and concentrated a large part of our work there deploying 40 or more volunteers to work on five homes.”

In addition to doing landscaping, light house repair, both inside and outside of these homes, and sharing food the church’s Missions and Hispanic pastor, Pastor David Bogran, along with some of the members of the Hispanic ministry, WCC Espanol, went door-to-door offering to pray with the families and sharing the good news of Jesus. In just that one neighborhood they experienced seven residents who accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. “There were fifteen people from that neighborhood who attended the services of WCC Espanol the Sunday after the project!” Pastor Cole rejoiced. [Read more…]