By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
Little did she know she was actually setting off a chain of events that would ultimately lead to eight professions of faith at Haley’s Grove Baptist Church in Crossville.
The sequence began last February when Margrave, former volunteer missions specialist at the Tennessee Baptist Missions Board, was in the process of contacting various churches to gather information for the Annual Church Profile that is compiled by the TBMB.
While speaking on the phone with Haley’s Grove pastor Robert Hawkins, Margrave discovered that the church had discontinued its Vacation Bible School ministry several years ago because the church was unable to put together a volunteer staff large enough to host the event.
Hoping to find a solution, Margrave immediately contacted TBMB childhood specialist Vicki Hulsey, who then contacted members of Maury County Baptist Association, including director of missions Dale Ledbetter.
And from there, the pieces began to fall into place. Quickly.
“It’s an amazing story,” said Hulsey. “Within a matter of hours (after Margrave talked to Hawkins), we had a date set for Haley’s Grove VBS, we had a team lined up to go and help, and we had a place for the team to stay during that week.”
Five months later — with the VBS team from Maury County Baptist Association supplying manpower and materials — Haley’s Grove was indeed able to host VBS. The event included an overall enrollment of 71 children and resulted in six salvations during the week and two more in the days immediately after.
Elaine Wells, associational VBS director for Maury County Association, said the scenario was a perfect example of what can happen when God’s people come together in a spirit of cooperation and determination.
“We were willing vessels,” said Wells, “and God provided His direction through Vicki (Hulsey). She contacted our team and relayed the request from the pastor for help hosting VBS at Haley’s Grove.”
The Maury County VBS team traveled to Crossville several times in the weeks leading up to VBS for prayerwalking and planning. Then, in July, the team caravanned to Crossville again, this time staying all week to help serve in various roles at VBS.
The event created a wave of excitement at the church, and new friendships were formed.
“It was amazing to see how God allowed our team to bond with the members at Haley’s Grove,” said Wells. “The members were excited and the whole church was abuzz with energy and enthusiasm.”
The 14-member team from Maury County Baptist Association represented six churches in the association, including Pleasant Heights Baptist, Knob Creek Baptist, Riverview Baptist, Rock Springs Baptist, Mooresville Baptist and New Song Baptist.
Wells said the opportunity to partner with Haley’s Grove was an answer to prayer.
“In previous years, our association did mission trips, which included both a construction team and our VBS team,” she said. “But for the past three or four years, the trips were concentrated only on construction. So, we began seeking God’s will for the VBS Team.”
When the VBS team learned about the situation at Haley’s Grove, they believed the partnership could be a perfect fit. And it was.
Wells said the team’s successful trip to Crossville was the result of prayers and support from numerous outlets.
“Prior to VBS, our association did a food drive for the needy in the community,” she said. “Ten of our churches provided 80 extra-large food bags that were distributed to families, along with a flyer inviting children to attend VBS. They also provided funding to allow our team to travel to Crossville and stay for the week.”
The churches in Maury County raised over $1,500 to fund the food drive and help with ministry needs for VBS.
Wells noted that the churches who provided food and funds were: Mooresville Baptist, Pleasant Heights Baptist, Rock Springs Baptist, Santa Fe Baptist, Riverview Baptist, Cross Bridges Baptist, Northside Baptist, Highland Park Baptist, House of Prayer Baptist, and Knob Creek Baptist.
Two weeks after VBS was held at Haley’s Grove, several members of the Maury County VBS team returned to the church for the baptism service.
The VBS team then returned to Haley’s Grove once again in October, this time to help the church celebrate its 150 year anniversary.
“We were so excited to see some of our VBS students at the service,” said Wells. “The team really feels a part of the family of Haley’s Grove Baptist Church.”
The VBS team has already started thinking about ideas for next year’s VBS, which means there will likely be a second chapter to this incredible story.
“From my vantage point of seeing this whole thing unfold, I know I could have never planned anything like this,” said Hulsey.
“Only God could have done this,” she said.