This past week our family spent the week along with 24 other members of our church on a mission trip in the Williamsburg, Kentucky area. As usual on a mission trip, I found myself immeasurably blessed by the folks that we went there to help. Each evening, our team helped Wolf Creek Baptist Church conduct Vacation Bible School. This church’s story is truly “a God thing” that blessed me and I wanted to share it with my readers.
Wolf Creek Baptist Church is a 202 year old church (not a typo) in an extremely poor, rural community about seven miles outside of Williamsburg. This part of the country sees the effects of generations of poverty, the breakdown of the family, abuse, drugs, and a host of other ills. A number of years ago, Wolf Creek Baptist Church had only a handful of faithful attenders and was making little impact in its community. Then Pastor John Justice had a vision. The Lord began to stir his heart to lead the church to minister to the children of the area. According to Pastor Justice, he saw children growing up in generational cycles of spiritual lostness, poverty, neglect, and pain. According to members of Wolf Creek, Pastor Justice told the church, “If we don’t do something about it with the kids, nothing will ever change.” That simple vision from the Lord was the beginning of great things. With few people, little to no money, and an old church van, Wolf Creek stepped out on faith and began its journey to make a difference.
Today, Wolf Creek has between 75-100 children and teenagers in attendance EACH SERVICE – Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening. Very few of those kids are brought by their parents. Wolf Creek members use four vans to go get them and then take them home. These kids, many of whom are growing up in situations that are heartbreaking, are loved unconditionally, taught the Word of God, and told of the difference the Lord Jesus can make in their lives. Oh yes, because many of the kids do not get adequate food at home, the church FEEDS THEM EACH SERVICE. That’s right. Wolf Creek feeds 75-100 children and teenagers every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening. The members of Wolf Creek say that they have to do that because meeting their physical needs must happen in order to meet their spiritual needs. Wolf Creek consistently sees as many as forty of these kids come to faith in Christ each year. In fact, a couple of years ago, they were #10 in the entire Kentucky Baptist Convention in baptisms.
All of this ministry is carried out by a core of group of less than 30 adults who attend the church regularly. The bulk of the work is done by six or seven families – week in and week out. This is one reason why Whitesburg goes up there for Vacation Bible School each year. It gives these faithful families a welcome break from having to carry the whole load. In addition to this small group of faithful members, Wolf Creek’s budget is small as well: $600 per week ($31,200 per year). The church rarely has a month when it meets its budget, but somehow its few bills get paid and the ministry is funded for another month. “When the money runs out and we don’t know what we are going to do, God provides,” is how one church leader described it to me.
The truth is that I went to be a blessing to Wolf Creek, but I was far more blessed to get to know them. In fact, I was downright convicted and challenged by spending time with that little church. Wolf Creek has an old building that is totally inadequate for them in every way. They have few leaders and little money. They minister to children and families who live in circumstances that in many cases are almost unbelievable. Nothing they do is easy. Every single thing requires work.
Yet, I found the people of Wolf Creek Baptist Church to be extremely positive. All week long I kept hearing phrases such as, “God is at work” and “It’s His ministry not ours.” They were certainly grateful for the help, but they were eager to share what God was doing among them! They steadfastly believe that one day God will provide a new building for them, and they aren’t discouraged at all that after two years the building fund only has $16,000. God provides. They are generous – even though they have very little. They insisted on presenting our mission team with a gift. One more amazing thing: Wolf Creek Baptist actually does mission trips. You read that right. This little church recently sent a mission team to help a church in another part of the country.
As we headed back to Alabama on Friday, I left there amazed and humbled. In all of my years of ministry, I have never seen a church that did more with less that I saw at Wolf Creek. They do it week in and week out with no pay, no recognition, and no sign that their work will get any easier. They do it by faith that God will provide, sometimes not knowing how the ministry will be funded for another month. Few people have ever heard of Wolf Creek Baptist, and far fewer have ever seen first hand what they do. However, I believe that Heaven knows exactly what is going on at Wolf Creek, and I believe that the Lord is smiling on it. Why do I say that? Because the Lord knows that Wolf Creek Baptist Church is rich in the things that really matter.