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Tuscumbia church sees whole families saved as result of new mentoring programcomment (0)

May 25, 2006

By Grace Thornton

The saying “out of the mouth of babes” recently came to life for Greg Beasley, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church, Tuscumbia, in Colbert-Lauderdale Baptist Association.

The experience came as he was about to baptize a young girl. As she neared the baptistry, the girl stopped, looked back at the church member who was assisting her and said, “What do I do?”

The church member began to explain to the new Christian how she should step down into the water and take Beasley’s hand, but the young girl cut her off.

“No, not now. I mean what do I do when I get out?”

Her words stirred a compelling burden in the heart of that member and the pastor that soon had the whole church excited, Beasley said. “We began to talk about teaming up our adults with our children — having our adults adopt a child to mentor,” he said. “And God is doing a tremendous work in our children as a result.”

The ministry — a perfect fit for a church beginning to burst at the seams with unchurched children — was soon dubbed “GUIDE,” or God Uses Individuals to Disciple and Encourage, Beasley said.

“Our church really accepted it and was excited about it,” said Beasley’s wife, Jennifer. “At first, it was just for the children that came on the bus from unchurched families, but then we decided not to leave our church members’ children out.”

Michelle Stutts, children’s director of New Bethel Baptist, said the program is exciting to the participants. “When the children start coming, we get their information — their favorite color, where they go to school, things like that. Then we pair them with an adult, and every other week or so they send cards, make phone calls, just encourage the children.

“It’s building up the children and helping them become more faithful, and many of their parents are coming (to church) because of it,” she said.

Beasley said he’s baptized a good number since GUIDE began in November 2005, including one mother and all four of her children  in the same service.

“It was, at first, intentionally evangelistic toward the kids, then we began to see a spark in the church and in the parents. The children are going home and telling mom or dad or stepmom or stepdad, ‘Someone is mentoring me,’” Beasley said. “It’s just exploding in our church — it’s unreal.”

He and his wife have three children and youth they mentor, and their 18-year-old daughter is mentoring a child as well.

“The youth wanted to be involved in GUIDE, too. It’s really caught on — it’s just doing the little things we should be doing anyway,” Beasley said.

It’s little things that make all the difference, he explained, like going to watch a 14-year-old guy play baseball or talking with children or youth at church about important issues such as respect.

“One of the greatest needs in the church today is assimilating believers into the church — children, too,” said Sonya Tucker, an associate in the office of discipleship and family ministries of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. “Too often new believers are baptized but left without nurturing or teaching. Because they do not know how to grow, they do not grow — and they often drop out.”

GUIDE provides a win-win situation for children to get much-needed discipleship, she added.

Some 95 percent of church members are involved in GUIDE, Jennifer Beasley said. “They just give the children a hug, send them a card. It’s so simple but it’s been so successful. And it’s been wonderful to see everyone work toward the same goal.”

The rural, northwest Alabama church — which averages 150 in worship — now has more than 100 children on any given Wednesday night.

“It’s got to be God-anointed or else it couldn’t do what it’s doing or impact the lives it’s impacting,” Greg Beasley said.

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