My small part of the much larger story is…
For the past seven years, because of FBC, I have had the good fortune to teach Hispanic parents English by way of learning to read children’s literature. They also learn about local customs and how to be supportive of their children getting an education in Gainesville. Additionally, these parents are exposed to the opportunities that FBC offers for children and many become involved in the Promising Futures after-school program. Some even attend Vacation Bible School and the summer Promising Futures camp.
Summer is a busy time when this class grows because parents can bring their children with them to class. During this time, we meet in the Family Life Center where the children can safely play on the gym floor while the parents have class in a room nearby.
December is another special time for these parents because we focus on Advent and invite them to the Living Christmas Tree program. We visit the sanctuary and watch the tree as it is built and also watch videos from past years to learn vocabulary from the songs. Our families are always in awe of the productions and so thankful to be included in this wonderful celebration. In fact, I think “included” is the word that best describes what is offered for these parents in the ESL program. It provides a way to be included, to have a safe place to learn and be embraced by a church community that offers many avenues for education in the fullest sense.
Many times these parents are looking for a church home and it is wonderful to have the Hispanic Ministry on campus and Alina Carbonell to call upon to help them feel at home and help them with challenges. There are instances when our participants or other adults in their extended family are looking for a way to become U.S. citizens. They typically have many questions and don’t know where to turn. And so it is again to their advantage to be on our campus as we provide classes to assist them in filling out an application for citizenship along with guidance in the complicated process. We also have people to help them study the required course work to prepare them on the path to full citizenship.
This one program uses many areas on the First Baptist campus. These facilities truly make it possible to enhance the learning experience of these parents. I am grateful to be part of a church community with ministries that touch lives 24/7 because we have made the commitment to be good stewards of our facilities and to bring the kingdom here. “For I was a stranger and you took me in.”
ART & KAY KUNZER
We want to tell our story of how First Baptist Church has blessed our family since moving to Gainesville 46 years ago.
To begin, FBC played a major role in the spiritual growth of our four daughters. Through many youth activities and choir retreats led by dedicated Sunday School teachers, volunteers, youth and music ministers we watched their faith form. In later years all of our daughters were married here.
To see how far we’ve come the past 46 years is quite remarkable. God has truly blessed us with outstanding ministers during this time and we continue to grow under the leadership of Bill Coates. Our campus has expanded with the Family Life Center, renovation of the Sanctuary with the balcony addition, the Banquet Hall, and much needed space for the Day School and youth programs. Our facilities provide a ministry for the entire Gainesville community.
We have been members of the Sanctuary Choir for these 46 years and cannot begin to tell you how special music and our choir family is to us. Singing under Mark Green’s talented and outstanding leadership is a real privilege. He makes belonging to the choir a spiritual experience with devotional and prayer time each rehearsal as well as “down to work time” on the anthems he challenges us with. One of the greatest opportunities for us is singing in the Living Christmas Tree which is truly a community tradition. God has also blessed us with the addition of Steve Coldiron as Mark’s assistant. Under Steve’s leadership we’ve seen the Exaltation Orchestra and handbell choirs grow and add a new dimension to our Sunday worship.
Another ministry we‘re privileged to have served in for the past 10 years is the Stephen Ministry. We’ve experienced true blessing of walking through the valleys with our care receivers and seen how God can comfort and restore lives.
Our Music Ministry has grown so much that we are “bursting at the seams” as
we’ve outgrown our rehearsal space. All
this is said to point out the need to support “Our Faith, Our Story” to retire the debt. Then, we can complete the final phase of the 3rd Century Campaign with the addition
of the music suite.
God has truly blessed our family through the years and things have never been better at FBC Gainesville. We are grateful to God to be a part of such a wonderful Church family.
We have witnessed a spiritual growth and love among our congregation that is a result of answered prayers and God’s amazing and wonderful love and grace.
Psalm 37 says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” When life throws us unexpected curve balls, it can be hard to wait patiently for the Lord. We can forget that there is a loving God who will walk through the hard trials with us. But in the midst of them, we can gain glimpses of the incredible power of the love He has for us.To be patient is sometimes easier said than done, but when we have faith in God, the results are truly amazing. This is my story of how the Missions Ministry of First Baptist Church has helped me and countless lives around me.
The summer of 2006 was life changing for me, unfortunately not in a good way. That summer, my parents separated for good. I was confused but most of all heartbroken. I didn’t understand why out of all the people in the world, my family was the ridicule and gossip of the neighborhood. I was angry with God. I refused to go to church because I believed that God was getting back at my family for all of our sins. For three years, I never once sang a hymn to praise God, or even prayed. That all changed when I was introduced to Promising Futures.
Promising Futures is a program that started about five years ago. The program works closely with the children whose parents are primarily Spanish speakers to introduce them to the power of God’s love. It specifically prepares each child for a better and brighter academic future. More than 70 children have stepped through the doors of First Baptist eager to learn and be inspired to work toward a future that will make their loved ones proud. I am aware of all of this because I have grown up in the program myself. From the first day I met Ruth Demby, I saw how she and the many others who created this program work to fuel the spark in every child’s mind to think out of the box when faced with a tough problem.
Today, Promising Futures is changing the lives of children who didn’t have a promising future five years ago. The truth is: I would not have transformed into the person that I am today without Promising Futures. I am grateful for every member of this church who had faith in the vision for the Promising Futures Ministry. Without you, First Baptist Church, the lives of many children, myself included, would not look as bright as they do today.
THE MORTERS FAMILY
It’s not about us. It’s all about God.
Sure, things may happen to us, but an opportunity to use those “events” wisely is given. We can either pay tribute to God or squander the opportunity on self-pity. Here is my story of how the ministries of First Baptist Church have helped my family spend our opportunities wisely.
My family joined this church in 2000 and shortly after, the music ministry became dear to our hearts. Let it be said that one day I could spontaneously combust right in the middle of one of our choir anthems. Indeed, worship is that good! The music ministry has encapsulated many of our life events. From the birth, dedication, and baptism of our children to the going home celebration of our dear ones, it has helped my family both mourn and celebrate. Music fills the space where words do not fit. From children to adult music opportunities, the music ministry continues to grow aggressively within us a steadfast love for our Lord and Savior.
Another important ministry for us is the Family Life Center. This place took me from a couch potato to one of “those people” with a 13.1 sticker on the back of her car. It reminded me that our bodies are gifts that we should use to go to the ends of the earth sharing the good news.
The programs at FBC for our children have meant the world to us. I love serving as music director of the Day School, and the church Nursery has rocked all three of my babies, allowing my family to fully participate in Sunday morning worship and other events. The Children’s Ministry introduces my children to the Rock they should stand on and the importance of the stone the builders rejected. The Student Ministry is currently helping us to keep our sanity as Andrew and I watch our baby girl enter her teenage years. Now we can confidently let go and watch her grow into the young adult God is molding her into.
We have also been touched by the Ministry of Caring as it paid for our electric bill once. As the market began to crumble under the pressure of an overweight budget, so did the financial stability of many. The crippling ripples waved over the head of our small remodeling business, stifling our movement like drying concrete. We lost many things and I will never forget the calm and compassion in Bruce Fields’ voice as I cried to him on the other end of the telephone. In every turn of that uncomfortable process we found comfort, peace, and answered prayers. Also, I officially became a Stephen Minister in May of 2009. Serving here, I have seen brokenness heated up and fused back together like the stained glass of a window. And when God was finished, it was more beautiful than ever.
I have literally had the good fortune of witnessing or participating in every ministry offered at our church. And do you know what I see? I see the body of Christ alive and well, thriving here at First Baptist Church of Gainesville, GA. Arms, legs, and hands all working together to extend Christ love through our different ministries.
WE ARE GETTING THINGS DONE!!!!