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Haleyville church keeps young woman’s missions vision going after her tragic deathcomment (0)

August 29, 2013

By Anna Keller

Haleyville church keeps young woman’s missions vision going after her tragic death

This past summer has certainly been a distinctive and memorable one for Bethel #2 Missionary Baptist Church, Haleyville. 

On June 7, the members of Bethel lost a treasured part of their congregation when 24-year-old Alisha Hicks was killed in a car accident. By all accounts, Hicks was a vibrant, driven young person who had a heart for missions and loved Vacation Bible School (VBS).

“Alisha was a person who always lit up a room,” said Marlene Hicks, Alisha’s aunt. “She always wanted to help others and didn’t let much get her down.”

It was these characteristics that Alisha Hicks possessed — along with a passion for medical missions — that inspired Marlene Hicks to recommend that this year’s VBS be dedicated in Alisha’s memory. 

She wasn’t the only one with that idea. Bethel’s VBS director, Alyssa Elliot, had also been thinking of bringing Alisha Hicks’ legacy into VBS in some way. Though the start of VBS was near the time of Alisha Hicks’ death, for some reason Elliot hadn’t yet decided how to direct this year’s VBS offering. She hadn’t been able to get a good feel for what this year’s donations needed to go to until Alisha’s accident. 

Knowing that Alisha Hicks’ passion was for medical missions (she had wanted to go on a long-term medical missions trip), Elliot decided the offering money would go to support a medical missions team.

“The theme for VBS this year was facing fear and trusting God,” Elliot said. “Alisha was a person who was typically not afraid of anything. She was such a sweet spirit and was willing to try anything. It felt right to dedicate this year’s VBS to Alisha, especially with the theme, since it really fit with her personality.”

As turnout goes, this year’s VBS numbers were much lower than usual at Bethel. Typically anywhere between 50 and 75 kids participate in the church’s VBS program, but this year only 27 signed up. 

Despite the significantly lower enrollment, the success of this year’s event was monumental.

“We told the kids about Alisha and her love for missions, and they just ran with it,” said Mark Kimbrell, Bethel’s pastor. “Twenty-seven children raised $940. I don’t know if it was because we were emphasizing how short life can be, but we were so amazed by the money the kids were able to raise.” Through additional contributions by church members, the $940 to support medical missions soon became $2,100.

And Kimbrell and others were even more thrilled about the number of VBS attendees who accepted Jesus as their personal Savior throughout the weeklong event.

“Twenty percent of the kids accepted Christ — five of the 27,” Kimbrell said. “Usually with VBS, we get focused on the number of kids and the songs and the activities and the thing we focus least on is teaching the gospel. We got it backwards. This year turned it around.”

Elliot agreed this year had a different feel about it and said it seemed more focused and had more of a purpose. She said the kids really did seem to grasp the connection between Alisha Hicks and VBS. 

“We set up an area where we had a picture of her, and every night when we took up the donations, we’d talk about how we were dedicating VBS to Alisha and how she recently went to be with the Lord,” Elliot said. “We told them she was going to be a physician’s assistant and she wanted to go and heal people spiritually and in their body. The kids got it.”

The smaller number of children meant that each child received much more individualized attention throughout the week. Bringing Alisha Hicks and her memory into the event caused both kids and adults to look at their lives and realize how precious and short they are, as well as think about what’s most important.

“This year’s VBS was few in number but mighty in spirit,” Elliot said. “It wasn’t as big as we were expecting, but the feel this year — the kids were more excited than I’ve seen them in a long time. The whole spirit about it felt different from the very beginning.”

Which is something Marlene Hicks said would have made her niece so happy.

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