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Balloon released after VBS in Tenn. carries hope to woman in Indiana

QUEBECK, Tenn. (BP)–An Indiana woman seeking a message from God found it — in a balloon launched by a small country church in Tennessee.
At the conclusion of Quebeck Baptist Church’s Vacation Bible School in mid-June, 99 balloons were set free. Each one carried a strip of paper containing the name of a VBS participant along with the 23rd Psalm.
How that balloon traveled about 300 miles from Quebeck, a tiny community between Sparta and McMinnville, can only be described as a miracle, according to pastor Tony King and Raymond Rigsby, the church’s Sunday school superintendent who had the idea of sending up the balloons.
“It was God’s wind, his Word, and his will,” King said. The only things the church added were the effort and a burden to reach out evangelistically, the pastor said.
The balloon was found by Angie McKinney of Lynnville, Ind., and her 6-year-old son.
The balloon, when originally released, had headed southwest then changed direction and sailed north before landing in a tree that had been blown down in an area where McKinney and her son were fishing.
McKinney sent a letter to the church letting them know she had found the balloon containing the message that she is convinced was for her.
“I’m not writing to you to let you know how far your balloon traveled. I’m writing to thank you for letting it go in the first place.
“If you wouldn’t have, I would never have gotten my message from God. The Bible verse was meant for me,” she wrote.
McKinney went on to explain her faith had been weak in recent months and that she had not been reading her Bible or going to church.
She went on to write that she had been talking to God privately and had been asking God for a sign to know that he heard her.
McKinney noted that she would pass church signs with messages that seemed appropriate for her situation. “Sometimes they seem to be especially for me,” she wrote. “I’ve been too stubborn to accept them, thinking they’re just a coincidence. Your balloon couldn’t have been one. It’s a true sign from God. … That balloon landed a long way from you, in a place that only we would have found. That’s a miracle for me.”
McKinney’s letter has sparked members of Quebeck Baptist Church to continue to want to promote evangelism and to reach the lost at all costs, King said. “It has revolutionized our church,” he said, “and has brought us to a different level that we needed to get to.”
The Quebeck leaders shared the letter with Ray Maynard, director of missions for Union Baptist Association, based in Sparta, Tenn.
Maynard then called Charles Sullivan, executive director of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, to inform him of the lady and her needs.
Sullivan, in turn, referred the matter to Dewey Dick, pastor of Cypress Baptist Church, Boonville, Ind., located about 13 miles from where the woman and her family live.
The Boonville church has sent a letter to the woman, Dick told Tennessee’s Baptist and Reflector newsjournal in a telephone interview July 19.
“We did not have a phone number for her, and we could not locate one,” the pastor said, noting they have not had a response from her yet.
Dick, while on vacation, said the church’s minister of education, Paul Hollis, would be trying to make contact while he was away. The pastor said he planned on trying to reach the woman and her family when he returns from his vacation.
Dick said it is ironic his church was asked to respond because Cypress Baptist has had a member who has sent out thousands of balloons in a similar manner over the past several years.
“It’s a good ministry. It is a way of reaching people,” Dick said.
Members of Quebeck Baptist Church have written back to McKinney since they received her hand-written letter, pastor King said, adding that the church plans to continue correspondence with her “so she does not lose her desire” until she gets involved in a local church.
While something as simple as stuffing Bible messages in balloons and letting them float away may seem insignificant, “little is much when the Lord is in it,” King said.
Maynard agreed. “More churches are doing what God wants them to do,” he said. When churches obey God “he takes it and uses it,” the director of missions added.
As for Rigsby, who had the idea to send up the balloons, he noted it was a time-consuming task, but one he didn’t mind in the least.
“When I received that letter,” Rigsby said, “it made it all worth it.”

    About the Author

  • Lonnie Wilkey
    Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector (baptistandreflector.org), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.Read All by Lonnie Wilkey ›