Wow, What a year! 2020 is almost over. It’s been rough. Christmas events look so different this year. I’ve been so busy the last couple months gathering gifts and planning because I was determined to make sure the kids here received Christmas gifts despite Covid. I know this year has been very hard for many people and the effects will continue long term. My heart goes out to the families of the ones lost. However, we are still so blessed. God is still on the throne. He is still in control. He is still with us. When I looked at the faces of the little children receiving their presents, I kept thinking about how good God is. Their precious faces make me reflect on how good He is because the children themselves are gifts from Him. As of yesterday, we gave gifts to 91 children with the help of Jefferson First Baptist of SC, Little Sparrow Ministries of WV and other donors. Wow! God really is good.
The more I learn about McDowell County, the more compassion I feel for these families. I do realize other places face opposition but God has placed us here and my heart aches to bring them help, healing, and hope. I find myself daydreaming about rebuilding what was lost, an entire community of people living in unity, and striving to please God. But is this possible? They do come to hear the word. But James says to be doers of the word and not hearers only. Prayer will be our weapon to achieve this.
The information I’ve learned so far has helped me understand and connect more deeply with their pain, questions, and confusion.
In the 1950’s West Virginia had 125,00 miners. By 1970, machines moved in to replace these miners. I assume, they believed from a business point that this was more efficient but soon the number of operating mines spiraled downward. By the 1990s only 20,000 miners remained and today’s shocking number is 12,000.
(Above two images are from VirginiaTech.com)
Despite this history, McDowell County is still ticking along. I know many feel it will never be restored but I believe it is very possible with God. It will never be like it was but that doesn’t mean it can not be better.
When Daniel was cast into the lion’s den, the king said, ” May your God, whom you continually serve, deliver you!”
That was one of many things Daniel faced and God did deliver him.
This plant is right up the road from me. They load coal into train cars. It’s hard to get good pictures with the foliage. At night, it lights up like a Christmas tree.
God is going to do amazing things here so let’s watch him work!
So here we are in McDowell County West Virginia. We’ve been here for around 4 months (with no internet until now).
Four years ago next month we packed everything we own and set out with a call from God. The call for Larry to pastor a church planted out of our home church was all that was clear. We didn’t know where or when. We didn’t know how each step would go but we trusted God did. I won’t lie, we’ve had to be reminded from time to time that God finishes what He starts. But here we are.
Our goal is to bring help, healing, and hope to this poverty-stricken county. The plan, for now, is to, of course, share Christ but also to repair homes, give out food boxes as we find food donors and open a clothing closet. Larry is preaching most weekends and I’ve started teaching a group of youth. And I must say, they are awesome!
Being here is like stepping back in time. Everything runs on a slow pace and not a soul is in a hurry. It’s not a bad thing to slow down but it does take some patience. We are continually meeting and building relationships with some amazing people.
When the mines shut down, so did many of the businesses.
We all need hope and that is exactly what we intend to bring to the family’s here.
Joe Ford is the mayor of Iaeger. Larry and I have talked with him several times. I found this quote from him on “weheartwv.com“.
“People came here when the coal mines were big. I mean there used to be mines in just about all the hollows around here. We probably won’t ever see anything like that again in this area, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a future,” Ford said.
The article talks about how the town has survived despite the mines closing and people leaving. It mentions the population dropped from 1600 residents to around 300.
I’m currently gathering information on the history of our surrounding areas. I want to learn what these folks have been through. I know I want to show them a new hope and that hope is Jesus. I want to share what He can do for each and every person still here.
Please pray for McDowell County and pray for us!
If you’ve found your joy in Jesus, share it!