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78-year-old’s ministry tops 60,000 cards, 15,000 calls

ALEXANDRIA, Ky. (BP)–Velma Sissom’s health may be failing, but her desire to reach out and touch people in need is as strong as ever.

Every week for almost half a century, the 78-year-old member of Grant’s Lick Baptist Church has sent 30 to 40 cards and letters to church members, friends and even strangers on behalf of the Kentucky church, said pastor Paul Broyles. Most who receive cards are ill or have
suffered the loss of a loved one, he said.

Sissom’s records show she has mailed more than 60,000 cards and made more than 15,000 phone calls since she began the ministry in 1948, Broyles said.

She has an “amazing information network,” Broyles said. Many people have lived in the area for 70 to 80 years and “she knows them all,” Broyles said.

A move to the Baptist Convalescent Center in Newport, Ky., three years ago didn’t stop Sissom. Although she is confined to a wheelchair because of complications from diabetes and is no longer able to write, her ministry continues with the help of family and friends.

Each Monday, her three children take turns bringing her the Grant Lick church bulletin, Sunday order of worship and weekly praise and prayer list. Grant’s Lick church provides greeting cards and postage.

Each Tuesday, Betty Steele, a longtime friend and member of First Baptist Church in Newport, spends about two hours helping Sissom prepare and address the cards for mailing.

“God loves you, and so do we. Grant’s Lick Baptist Church” is the message Sissom wants on most of the cards, Steele said. Sissom requests a customized message on a few cards, Steele said.

In spite of her physical limitations, Sissom still is able to stuff each envelope with a card, a church bulletin and a gospel tract, Steele said.

In a time when it is easy for people to “get separated from the church almost overnight,” Sissom “more than anything else helps keep people connected to the church,” Broyles said.

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  • Joyce Sweeney Martin