Dear Kentucky Baptists,
Most of you don’t know me, but I am a fellow Kentucky Baptist, joyfully serving the Lord in my hometown of Pikeville, Kentucky. As you know, Pikeville is located right in the heart of the mountains of eastern Kentucky and is the host city for the 2018 Kentucky Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. I trust that you have also heard about the Hope For The Mountains evangelistic crusade which will take place on Sunday, November 11 at the East Kentucky Expo Center in Pikeville. As a native of this wonderful town, I want to invite you to join us for this historic occasion in November.
Actually, “invite” is not the right word. I want to plead with you to join us for Hope For The Mountains and all of the other activities surrounding the Annual Meeting. Here’s why:
- Pike County is 92% unchurched, meaning 11 out of every 12 people (approximately 54,000) do not attend church on any given Sunday.
- Eastern Kentucky is home to 21 out of the top 25 most lost counties in the state.
- We have half the number of KBC churches in eastern Kentucky and double the percentages of lostness than other parts of the state.
- 1 out of every 3 families in Pike County (including 4,000 children) are living in poverty, a rate that is nearly three times the national average.
- Pike County had the sixth most drug overdose deaths (128) in the state in 2016, and had more than any other county located outside of the major metropolitan areas of Louisville, Lexington, and Northern Kentucky.
- The coal industry’s drastic decline has left thousands of coal miners out of work.
In light of these realities, many people in eastern Kentucky feel hopeless. They feel like things will never get better. But, you and I know that there is always hope through the gospel of Jesus Christ!
And that’s why I am so excited about the evangelistic events that are being planned in conjunction with this year’s KBC Annual Meeting. There are several ways that you can partner with local churches in the region through Crossover, and I hope you will consider doing so. There will be door-to-door evangelism, an evangelistic basketball clinic for children, an evangelistic tailgate party at the University of Pikeville football game, a Thanksgiving meal-packing event for low-income families, as well as an opportunity to winterize homes for families in the region. In each of these opportunities, you will be able to share the hope of the gospel with those who desperately need that hope!
In addition to Crossover, I want to plead with you to get involved in the Hope For The Mountains evangelistic crusade. There are many ways to serve (here’s the list), and we need hundreds of Kentucky Baptists to do so! As I mentioned earlier, the number of churches in eastern Kentucky is much less than other parts of the state and with only 23 KBC churches in Pike County, we simply cannot do this alone. As Jesus said in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” So, we need your help, and I am praying that the Lord of the harvest will send many of you to help us.
As we prepare for Hope For The Mountains, I want to invite you to participate in one of the training sessions that will be taking place next week, Sunday, September 23-Wednesday, September 26. (Click here for dates and locations.) Jon Reed, the evangelist for Hope For The Mountains, will be sharing about ways to pray and invite others to the event. If you are a Kentucky Baptist living anywhere in or near eastern Kentucky, we need you at one of these training sessions! Even if you live outside the region, we certainly could use your help as well. To all my friends in West Virginia or Southwest Virginia, you’re invited too!
In addition, a group of pastors and church members will be gathering this Wednesday, September 26 at 9AM at the East Kentucky Expo Center to prayerwalk inside and outside the facility. We will be praying that every seat in the arena will be filled and that hundreds (if not thousands) will come to faith in Christ and that we will begin to see a spiritual awakening in Pike County and throughout eastern Kentucky.
Recently, I read about a Kentucky Baptist missionary named Annie Allen. She was born in Todd County, but came to Pike County 100 years ago to share the hope of the gospel. Through her missionary efforts, many came to faith in Christ and several Baptist churches were started in Pike County and West Virginia. In her biography published by the Kentucky WMU, I read these words: “Finally, a call came that seemed in some measure to satisfy the missionary impulses of her heart. Pikeville, ‘up in the mountains’ seemed at the time a real mission field.” Pikeville was a mission field then, and it still is today. I’m thankful for those like Annie Allen who answered the call in the past, but we need you to do so now.
The theme verse for this year’s KBC Annual Meeting is Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news.” Thousands upon thousands of people in the mountains of eastern Kentucky need to hear the good news. They need the hope of the gospel. And we need your help to bring the good news to them.
Will you come and help us?