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Rhode Island church uses FAITH to reach people, build a legacy


SMITHFIELD, R.I. (BP)–While Pat Galloway serves as pastor in an area with a rich Christian heritage, he understands a harsh reality.
North County Baptist Church, Smithfield, R.I., is located near Providence where Baptists got their start in the United States.
“Whatever was here has left,” said Galloway who has been at North County Church for six years. “We know there will be obstacles and struggles. We are starting, not just a church but a legacy. We want to establish something for God that will be here for years to come.”
The church and the legacy are growing, thanks to the FAITH Sunday School Evangelism Strategy. FAITH began at First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Fla., and has been launched nationwide by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. It is endorsed by the North American Mission Board.
Galloway and four other North County members “drove day and night” in August 1998 to attend a FAITH clinic in Hixson, Tenn. The following month they began their first semester of FAITH training. Since then, 53 people have been motivated and trained to share their faith conversationally in teams of three each week.
FAITH team members making home visits or conducting opinion polls focus their comments upon Jesus Christ rather than on denominational debates that arise in this heavily Roman Catholic region, he said. Generally, those being visited open their homes and express gratitude for the personal attention.
Initially, Galloway said he tried to call ahead to schedule visits, but he found that this approach did not work well. Now visitors go out without giving advance notice and visit where people are home and willing to talk.
“They’re not coming until we go,” Galloway said. “As we go out, showing that we care and that we are concerned, it becomes personal. The church becomes a body and it’s a lot more intimate and real.
“Jesus knew what he was doing when he told us to ‘go.’ We are being followers of Christ when we do this.”
Of FAITH Galloway said, “The timing was very right for us. We were looking for a program that would give some structure to our outreach.
“When FAITH came along, it gave us a fun and biblically sound tool that incorporated the idea of teamwork, which was something that I see as a big plus,” he said.
As a result of their involvement in FAITH, the Sunday school attendance at North County Baptist Church has nearly doubled in 18 months, Galloway said. Members are enlisting other members to share their faith and, best of all, some of those reached with the gospel during the first FAITH semester have been trained and are now out telling their neighbors about Jesus Christ.
“FAITH was a turning point for us,” he observed.

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  • Dan Nicholas