By Tony Martin/The Baptist Record
MYRTLE, Miss. (BP) – Amaziah Church between Hickory Flat and Myrtle, averages 75-80 people in attendance and, like all churches, has been impacted by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. But that hasn’t stopped the members from sacrificially supporting the work of the Lord at home and around the world.
Amaziah Church increased its giving to the Cooperative Program (CP) from $551 in 2019 to $10,092 in 2020 – an increase of more than 1,800 percent.
The Cooperative Program is the financial fuel to fund the SBC’s missions and ministries locally, nationally and around the world. State and regional conventions retain a portion of church contributions to CP to support work in their respective areas and forward a percentage to SBC national and international causes.
Doug Rakestraw has been pastor of Amaziah Church since the first Sunday of March 2020. His ministry is bivocational. He is a certified law enforcement officer for the Prentiss County Sheriff’s Department in Booneville, Miss., one county to the east. His duties there include serving part-time as chaplain.
“I do a little bit of everything,” he said. “Right now I assist with jail administration, but I also work the roads and answer calls [for service]. As chaplain, I do all the death notifications. Most of the families I have to break the [death] news to don’t have a church home, nor do they have a pastor. In those moments, I become what they need.”
Rakestraw’s reaction to Amaziah Church’s explosive increase in CP giving: “It’s been absolutely a God thing. I’d been there two weeks when this COVID thing hit, and it changed the way we had to do church.
“Our [Union County] Baptist Association sent out a notice to the pastors that due to the pandemic, giving had been halted and they were going to have to find another way to get the funds to keep the association going at that point in time.”
The church secretary also received a copy of the notice from the association.
“She contacted me and said, ‘Hey, we have plenty of money in our account,’ Rakestraw said. “[She said,] ‘We have what the association needs … to do what they need to do for this month and the next.’
“God spoke to her, God spoke to me, and I contacted the deacons. I told them what the need was, and I asked them to pray about it over the course of the day. They were all on board. That day, Amaziah Baptist Church wrote a check to Union County Baptist Association for over $10,000.”
As Amaziah Church’s new pastor, Rakestraw had begun preaching through the book of Acts to position the fellowship to be an obedient New Testament church.
“Here’s the incredible thing,” he said. “At that time, I was in [Acts 2:45] particularly, where it says they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
“We were able to literally apply what we’d been learning on Sunday mornings. Over the next three weeks … the leaders took it on themselves to do this and our people gave over $10,000. It’s like Amaziah never knew that the money had been given [to the Association].
“We just did our part, and God was faithful. Over those three weeks, we got back what we’d given to the association and then some.”
The church has kept giving, too.
“It was during the COVID thing that God impressed on me that this was not the time to stop,” the pastor said. “People have more needs now than they had before. I encouraged people from the pulpit that we were going to continue to be the church in giving.
“We will trust God because He’s proven His faithfulness to us. They’ve been giving ever since. The Cooperative Program is basically the fuel that reaches every person for Jesus Christ. That’s what I want Amaziah to do. Whether it’s through the association, or through the state convention, through the International Mission Board, or the North American Mission Board – we’ve just got to cooperate to see others come to Christ.”