Small, rural church gives generously to mission causes throughout the year
February 11th, 2020 / By: Tammi Reed Ledbetter | TEXAN Correspondent / comments
REKLAW, Texas—“Generous” is the word that comes to mind when Jerry Bennett describes the church he has pastored for the past eight years. Reklaw Baptist is situated in East Texas just north of Rusk and southeast of Jacksonville. And yet the ministry of the rural church in a town of about 400 people extends beyond their own community to around the world through faithful giving to missions.
“Our church is very generous and I’m sure that was a part of the former pastor’s teaching,” Bennett said. Until a few years ago, the church followed the pattern of giving to North American missions around Easter and international missions in December. “About three years ago the consensus was to make it a year-round offering, so we talk about our missions offerings from January through December.”
“We use the video resources, the literature and the prayer guides,” Bennett said in describing the way the church keeps members informed of opportunities to give to mission causes. “We also like for people to see real live missionaries,” he added, recalling presentations from former missionaries to Romania as well as a young man preparing to go to Africa.
“Our people need that exposure to see where their money goes.”
Most of the folks who are members of Reklaw Baptist are retired, coming out of blue collar jobs. “I don’t hear people saying that we just asked them to give to the Gideons and now the Crisis Pregnancy Center,” Bennett said. “We have widows giving off of their social security and some who are still working full time. They’re giving generously.”
That attitude carries over to the children who attend as they fill baby bottles with coins for the ministry in Jacksonville to women faced with an unexpected pregnancy as well as contests between boys and girls during Vacation Bible School that yield $200 for missions.
The church’s secretary and treasurer related the faithfulness to giving that is demonstrated by a congregation that averages 35 people in attendance.
“We are not a very big church in size, but we have giving, loyal members,” shared Carolyn Martin in offering a report to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s missions office.
“We give each month to SBTC and we collect our missions offering throughout the year,” she noted. “We highlight Annie Armstrong, Lottie Moon, and Reach Texas throughout the year to remind our members to give towards the mission offering.
Referring to 2018 records, Martin said $4,186 was given to the Cooperative Program while the $782 given to missions offerings was distributed equally to international, North American and state mission causes.
After receiving Martin’s note, SBTC Missions and Church Planting Director Doug Hixson said it reminded him of the sacrificial giving of so many SBTC churches. “Their faithful giving is one piece of the huge puzzle we see that makes up the picture of the Cooperative Program.”
Hixson added, “We truly are better together and we are a part of a bigger picture. I am thankful for these churches that continue to make the CP work.”