A grandmother taught us how to make biscuits – and invited us to church. A 95-year-old pastor invited us to pray on his mountain – and thousands did. Thousands of kids showed up for a Texas church’s Easter egg hunt – on Minecraft – and heard the Gospel while they were there.
Yeah, we know: 2020 has been a difficult year. A pandemic has run amok. Emotional temperatures have run high. We’re all weary of the news and more than ready for something new in 2021.
But amid everything, there was good news – so often, it was the Good News – breaking through to bring joy, or hope, or even just quirky fun.
Our hearts were warmed by so many stories, it was hard to choose only a few. Some went – sorry! – viral. Others barely got noticed. But from the staff of Baptist Press, here are some of our favorites from 2020:
73-year-old grandmother launches Facebook cooking show and spikes online viewership at rural Alabama church
“Big Mama” Brenda Gantt is up mornings at 4:30 brewing coffee, slow-cooking grits until they’re creamy, hand-kneading buttermilk biscuits she bakes on a cast-iron griddle, and preparing smoked sausage, blueberry fried pies and such for guests at her bed-and-breakfast in Andalusia, Ala.
At age 93, after pastoring 70 years, fighting in World War II and preaching at revivals all over the U.S., Fred Lunsford was ready for the Lord to take him home. But, Lunsford recounted, God had different plans for his life and was just getting started laying a new path that would expand well beyond the mountain town of Marble, N.C., where he’d lived all his life.
Simply by playing video games with his own children, Curtis James came up with a ministry idea that has gone nationwide. The virtual Easter egg hunt, to be hosted on a Minecraft server Easter Sunday, April 12, stemmed from the desire of Tate Springs Baptist Church to engage entire families, both adults and children, even as meeting together was not an option during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite a couple of minor technical difficulties, Tate Springs Baptist Church pastor Jared Wellman calls the church’s nationwide Minecraft Easter Egg Hunt an evangelistic success. Wellman says the Gospel was shared with around 1,000 people during the event. By Monday (April 13), 13 people had responded by saying they wanted to know more about accepting Christ.
While lying in bed, music arranger and producer David Wise had an idea. Like seemingly everyone else in the world, he was troubled by the ongoing crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and wondered how he might help.
That moment of inspiration has encouraged more than a million people. The video of singers joining together on the hymn “It Is Well with My Soul,” produced by Wise, was released March 25, and its exponential impact caught him off guard.
Mule deer outnumbered the handful of Kingston Village Baptist Church members at a recent open-air Easter sunrise service. Worshipping during the COVID-19 pandemic is no bother for the church where attendance has been less than 10 for years.
Noah Iacob lived for only a week two years ago. But his story is one interwoven with others’ as part of a revival taking place at Long Hollow Baptist Church.
It didn’t seem like much — just $32.20 — but it was all this 11-year-old had. The small stash represented six months of household chores and errands, not to mention the self-discipline needed to save instead of spending it on treats.
The more Abby * thought about the money, the more her heart prodded her to pull it from its secret hiding place. She counted it one last time, then took all of it to her parents, who were still sitting at the table after family devotions.
On the morning of Jan. 16, two Arkansas Baptist Disaster Relief (ABDR) volunteers found themselves responding to a present emergency — a real-time disaster. While volunteers were working on repairing a roof damaged from recent tornados in the southeast Arkansas region, they noticed smoke billowing up just a few houses down the street.
For the first time in his life, Darrin Crockett is glad God did not answer his prayer.
On Monday night, March 2, Crockett and his family went to bed as always. Their dog Doc, however, barked incessantly throughout the night. Crockett remembers asking God “to make that dog quit barking.”
“Wherever Mister Rogers is, so is sanctuary,” was TV Guide’s take on the iconic good neighbor who explained difficult situations to children for 30 years on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
Mister Rogers has been at Sugar Creek Baptist Church in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land for weeks now. He’s teaching young children how important it is to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Well, at least that’s the character Children’s Pastor Jeff Land has been portraying on video messages he’s produced for Creek Kids during the pandemic.
At 96-and-a-half, Betty Schoch is believed to be the oldest person to ever be baptized at Hopeful Baptist Church in Lake City, Fla.
Schoch, who insists the half be included with her age because she is proud of her longevity, was baptized soon after becoming a member of the church.
Amory’s life changed forever when she saw those two blue lines on the pregnancy test. Thinking it was a false positive, she took it again, and again, three more times.
Amory had just finished graduate school, accepted her first job as a speech-language pathologist, moved into her own apartment and finally found a guy who she believed liked her back. However, their relationship was rocky, and Amory had no idea how he would react to the idea of being a father. Although in that moment, Amory’s life as she knew it seemed to crash down, her story did not end there.
It started as a normal Sunday. Scott McCullar, pastor of First Baptist Church, was about to conclude the morning worship service. It happened to be his wedding anniversary. His family would grab something to eat after the service before preparing for evening worship.
Before he could call on someone to offer a closing prayer, he was stopped by Jason Morris, chairman of the deacons.
It was Pastor Appreciation Day, Morris told the congregation as McCullar stood by.
To help meet the needs of fellow classmates, 16-year-old junior Brianna Farris started a “prayer locker” ministry at her school — Pell City High School.
Students can write down and leave requests of any nature in the locker. Brianna then takes them home and prays for them individually.