FRANKLIN — Tennessee Baptists gave a record 6,440 backpacks to the Christmas Backpacks ministry, which provides backpacks filled with toys, clothing, hygiene items, food and other items to children in low-income families.
It also serves as a means of outreach and evangelism for participating churches, said Beth Moore, compassion ministry specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
Tennessee Baptists joined Christmas Backpacks (a nationwide ministry) in 2018. That year, roughly 150 Tennessee churches participated, and provided more than 3,500 backpacks.
In 2019, Tennessee Baptists gave 5,524 backpacks, followed by 5,345 in 2020 and 5,781 in 2021.
This year’s record number of 6,440 backpacks came from 148 churches, Moore said.
“God has been so faithful this year and blown me away with how he has provided,” she said.
“It is incredible to think in a year with the price of everything going up that Tennessee Baptists have given a record amount to Golden Offering and a record number of Christmas Backpacks. Wow! I am reminded to believe God can do far more than we ask or imagine.
“I am praying that we will see a record number of people responding to the gospel message they hear when these backpacks are distributed,” Moore added.
The number of backpacks collected fell just short of Moore’s goal of seeing 7,000 backpacks collected. Yet, enough backpacks were received to provide for each of the 26 Baptist-related ministries, she said.
The backpacks were collected by churches and taken to nine different sites, strategically located across the state, Moore said.
Moore said that all of the ministries which requested backpacks will hold an event to distribute the gifts while sharing the Christmas story and the gospel.
The TBMB specialist noted that “no backpack goes unused. We find places for them.”
“When we have extra, we partner with other state conventions that may come up short of having enough backpacks to meet their requests. It is another example of Southern Baptist cooperation,” she said.
Moore observed that most of the churches that participate in the backpack ministry are smaller congregations. “Most of the churches that donate are small. They go above and beyond and give sacrificially,” she observed.
She is especially excited that Tennessee Baptists provided the record number of backbacks during an economic downturn in the country. “Everyone is struggling with rising gas and food prices. The fact that our churches gave so much says a lot.” B&R — This article includes reporting by David Dawson.