I am very pleased to be able to give you a final update on the Appalachian Backpack Ministry. Thank you, Georgia Baptists, for the amazing response to the many physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the children and their families in Appalachia. What a remarkable thing you did as you assembled and delivered a total of 31,396 backpacks this past Christmas. Your goal was 25,000 and as you can see, you went well past that goal in blessing many Appalachian families.
I might add that the total of all backpacks delivered by Southern Baptists was 46,112, which means that you gave more than 68% of all the backpacks given by Southern Baptists. This is an excellent representation of your love and your missionary heart. Thank you for your generosity.
The stories that have been reported about the results of these backpacks are deeply moving. Bill Barker who leads this ministry recently received a letter of appreciation that came to him from Mark Partin. Mark wrote:
Let me say thank you for allowing us the privilege to distribute nearly 1000 backpacks in our area.
Our largest distribution took place at the Lafollette Elementary School. This school has about 750 kids and the entire school is on free lunch. Many of these children do not eat until school the next day. We have adopted this school and we take groceries there to be distributed on Fridays to the neediest children to take home.
The backpacks are truly a blessing. We prayed over them for children who needed food to get food and those who needed a blanket to get the blankets. God heard and honored our prayers. As each class came into the gym, I was allowed to pray over them and for them in the name of Jesus Christ.
One of our ladies is a teacher there and she told me later a couple of stories. One little girl received an outfit of clothes along with other items. She was adamant that she did not want the clothes. This was very concerning and confusing to the teacher. So the teacher took the clothes and was walking down the hallway and another teacher came up to her and asked if there were any more backpacks. She said, "No, but why?" The other teacher replied, "I have a little girl who desperately needs clothes and she did not get any." To which, our teacher said, "What size?" She told her, and she had that size that the one little girl refused to take in her hand and she gave them to her.
The other story she told was of a little boy who was so excited. He got exactly what he wanted and he told her of his excitement. Then he said, "I’m going to do the happy dance."
We took each pack and placed a children’s tract inside. We prayed over them and for the children and parents if they were not saved that they would cry out to Jesus for salvation.
Ninety backpacks were taken to Knoxville, Tennessee and distributed to homeless children that live under the bridge and into a poor trailer park. The rest of the packs were forwarded on to FBC Harrogate, Tennessee for distribution.
You will be thrilled to know that there have been an estimated 1,317 professions of faith through this ministry.