By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
JOHNSON CITY — Even after serving the residents of Tyler Apartments and the surrounding area in Johnson City for more than 40 years, the Johnson City Baptist Center is still finding new ways to meet needs.
For the first time the Baptist Center, sponsored by the churches of Holston Baptist Association, created an “Angel Tree” designed to supply Christmas presents to the local children.
The Angel Tree ended up supplying presents to 57 children who were adopted by the association’s 98 churches.
“Everybody was excited to be able to do something to help these children,” said Anna Huggins, director of the Johnson City Baptist Center. “It’s been overwhelming.”
Huggins noted that there were originally 80 children on the list but some were helped through other organizations. Most of the children who received gifts attend the Baptist Center’s weekly Bible clubs or have attended summer events hosted by the center. The gifts for each child included “special needs” such as clothes, coats, gloves and undergarments and “special wants” such as toys, games, and other items.
“Our goal was to meet the needs of the children and then get them some toys and things they were wanting,” said Ben Proffitt, director of missions for Holston Association. “We also had churches to adopt whole families and bless parents and grandparents,” Proffitt added.
Many of the children would have had few presents this year had it not been for the involvement of the association’s churches in supporting the Angel Tree, Huggins said. She noted many of the children come from very low income homes.
“Our churches want to have an impact in this community and to share the gospel,” Huggins added.
Huggins, who has been the director since Oct. 1, is grateful for the legacy of the center that has been built over decades by former directors. “They established a presence of God’s love in the community” she noted.
She added that over the years churches and volunteers have built relationships and developed a trust level with the community.
The Baptist Center provides “a safe zone” for the community children to come after school and learn the Bible, Huggins said.
By taking care of their children, the center has been able to minister to and share the gospel with the parents, she added.
“They (the parents) know we will help them if we can or will direct them to someone who will,” Huggins observed.
She stressed that the goal of the center is “to represent Jesus in all that we do” and to help the parents and children know that “He is the one” who will meet their physical and spiritual needs.
“We just pray that we are making a difference.”