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Daughter’s Bible school attendance helped lead family to faith in Chr

WHITESBURG, Ky. (BP)–There’s an eternal reason Ann Baker is such an avid supporter of Vacation Bible School.
VBS was the original link in her daughter, Mossie, being baptized at First Baptist Church of Whitesburg, Ky., in the 1980s. The day Mossie was baptized, Ann also accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord.
And within 18 months of Mossie’s decision, her husband, Charlie, and their two adopted children also were baptized.
The poignant part of the story is that Mossie died in April 1989 while driving home from Southeastern Community College in Cumberland, Ky. Without Vacation Bible School, the Bakers might not have the hope of a reunion one day in heaven.
“When you reach children, you’re going to reach the parents,” said Baker, a veteran teacher who became the church’s VBS director two years ago. “That’s why it’s so important.”
“She’s sold on VBS making a difference in people’s lives because she’s a product of it,” said Tony Brown, pastor of First Baptist.
“She’s an enthusiastic organizer,” he said. “She goes after people and gets the community involved. She will spend hours here putting things together.”
That time went into preparing not one, but six Bible schools this past summer — after she led a training workshop for the Three Forks Baptist Association in May.
The week of First Baptist’s evening classes, she led a daytime event for the church’s day-care students. Ann organized three others at missions supported by First Baptist. In addition, she directed a mission youth group in conducting a Vacation Bible School for a church in southern Indiana.
While the pastor lauds her for lining up five dozen teachers by early spring, Baker shrugs off any personal acclaim. She sees her position as a call from God, since the church didn’t replace its minister of education after he left two years ago.
There is no secret to her effectiveness, Baker said, other than prayer. Ask the Lord for guidance, acknowledge his control and believe he will give you the strength, she said.
“I don’t believe you should wait until May to start planning,” Baker said. “You should be praying for Bible school year-round. I should be praying now for people who will be teaching, children who will attend and their parents.”
She carries out this preparation in other ways. After learning this year’s theme for LifeWay Christian Resources’ VBS was “Star Quest: A Galactic Good News Adventure,” she began scouting for materials.
When her husband, Charlie (who taught third-graders), saw an inflatable space shuttle model hanging in a gasoline station, he convinced personnel to give it to him. Painting over the logo with John 3:16, he used it as a classroom decoration.
The Bakers also crafted a rocket from three barrels, which they used in the community parade. These kind of decorations help spread awareness and interest long before summer, Ann said.
“You have to get excited about it and tell your friends,” she said. “They tell their friends and pretty soon everybody is excited. You’ve got to motivate the pastor and the church.”
This early start helps energize the staff, said Kathleen Waddles, who serves on the VBS committee and teaches fourth-graders.
“She believes in Bible school and I think that comes across,” Waddles said. “She doesn’t bug you. She acts like it will be exciting to do and you can do your part, whether it’s on the bus route, on recreation or in the kitchen.”
Community outreach is an important part of First Baptist’s Vacation Bible Schools, since this eastern Kentucky area is a stronghold for Old Regular Baptists. Since their parents were Old Regular Baptists, both Ann and Charlie, for example, struggled with the conflict between their background and Southern Baptist teachings, until their daughter’s baptism.
The Old Regular Baptists teach only adults can be saved, so few children are permitted to get baptized. By late summer, of 50 decisions registered for Christ at VBS, only two had followed through with baptism.
“I think we are reaching a lot of children who never would have come into the church otherwise,” pastor Brown said.

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  • Ken Walker