By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector
NEWPORT — One way to describe what has happened at Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church is that it’s been “turned inside out,” said Terri Sawyer.
In other words, the church has adopted a focus on what is outside rather than themselves.
The decision of the congregation came as it faced some financial issues recently related to a new building and some decline in membership. It had to decide whether to focus on missions, including giving to missions, or itself.
One way members responded was to become creative to be able to give to missions which has actually led to more giving to missions, several church leaders reported.
Recently, the church held a sale of used items which raised $3,300 for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions. With offerings to the AAEO, Lincoln Avenue gave a total of $7,266.55 to the offering.
Several years ago Lincoln Avenue gave about $500 to the AAEO. The church draws about 200 people to Sunday morning activities.
“We’re so excited. We’re just thrilled,” reported Sawyer who led the sale which was held in the church’s gym.
“It was just such a God-thing,” she added.
There are several factors that helped make the effort such a success, said Sawyer.
Recently church members have grown accustomed to such fundraisers, she explained.
The church has held bake sales for missions. She recalled a cake for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, one of many sold, went for $250 and candy sold for Valentine’s Day one year which raised a total of $800 for the AAEO.
Church members also have done more than fund missions. They have sent missions teams to Tanzania, Africa, for two years and helped a missionary doctor there.
So members responded to the idea of the sale for AAEO which was held on March 19, explained Sawyer.
Several weeks before the sale, several empty classrooms were allocated for folks to start collecting items to be sold.
Another factor in the success of the event was that the church is located in “a rural, impoverished community” so it drew a lot of people, added Sawyer.
A church member who owns a local hardware store also helped by donating items.
About 45 volunteers worked for three days to prepare for the sale. They worked hard but enjoyed spending time together, Sawyer noted.
Amazingly, the only big ticket items, an exercise machine and two swing sets, were sold for $275. The sale was advertised with signs and with a free ad in the local newspaper. It only was held from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Sawyer expected that the sale would bring in about $1,100-$1,200 rather than $3,300, she reported.
“We’re trying to be consistently missions-minded and that’s what we ought to be.
“I felt like the community really benefited as well,” she observed.
“Being a small church doesn’t have to hold you back. God can provide anything.”