December 2019 Witness

In 1988, Anissa Ayala was sixteen years-old and diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia. The doctors said that if she did not receive a bone marrow transplant after chemotherapy and radiation treatment she would die.  Neither her parents nor her brother was a match, and they could not find a donor elsewhere. Her parents, both in their forties, conceived another child and hoped that its bone marrow would be compatible with Anissa’s.


To their great delight it was determined that this new baby was a compatible donor, and when Marissa Ayala was fourteen months-old they took some of her marrow and gave it her older sister, Anissa. Anissa made a full recovery from the Leukemia and both sisters lead healthy lives today. In a very real sense, Marissa saved her sister’s life. She says, “Without me being a perfect match for my sister, she would not be here.”   


Jesus was born into this world for the express purpose of saving us. His very name, Yeshua in Hebrew, means “The Lord is Salvation.”  That is why the angel that appeared to Joseph told him, “…you shall call His name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”  (Matthew 1:21) He is the one and only Savior that can save all those who put their trust in Him.     Christmas marks the day we celebrate His birth, and without Him there would be no salvation for us! 


November has been a good month with 374 coming to Sunday small groups!  Thanks to our new Children’s Minister, Jennifer Zeager, for a great Trunk or TreatUpward Basketball & Cheerleading has been conducting evaluations during November, will be practicing through December with games starting in January.  Thanks to Chuck & Kim Bankston for their passion for this ministry.   Operation Christmas Child collected shoe boxes during the last week of November. Thanks again to Nancy Cloudt for her leadership in this wonderful international ministry.  We had a great Community Thanksgiving Service on Wednesday, November 27th, at the First United Methodist Church, with a very festive Downtown Illumination Service.   

     December has some very special emphases:


  • Our first Sunday in December, the 1st, will be a busy day. We will launch our LOTTIE MOON CHRISTMAS OFFERING FOR INTERNATIONAL MISSIONS with a goal of $25,000 this year. Robert Pepper, former missionary to West Africa, will be sharing with us in our morning services. Then, the HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS PARTY will take place at noon with children caroling at Heritage Inn following.
  • Also, on the 1st we will vote on our 2020 PROPOSED CHURCH BUDGET in all three morning services. In addition, that evening at we will have a CHILI SUPPER in our C.F.L.C. as we discuss our NEW SUNDAY SERVICE SCHEDULE recommended by our Service Schedule Team and our Deacons. Supper begins at 6:30 with childcare provided for children up to 5 years old. We will then vote on this new Sunday service schedule in a Called Church Conference at all three morning services the next Sunday, December 8th.
  • The CHRISTMAS CANOPY will be Tuesday evening, December 17th, beginning at 6:30 in our gym. Our ladies have been looking forward to having a special Canopy at Christmas!
  • Our Christmas program, THE WONDERS OF HIS LOVE, will take place on Saturday and Sunday evenings, December 7th and 8th, at 7:00 P.M. This year, Greg has arranged for The Cross Ties Band to join our choirs and musicians for a wonderful celebration!
  • This is the year for us to do our FAMILY LORD’S SUPPER on Christmas Eve, December 24th, from 4:00 to 6:00 P.M. Suzanne and I look forward to sharing that special time with you!


     From all of our Church Staff, may you and yours have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!  

                                                                                                                I Love You, Garth
December 2019December 


November 2019 Witness

What does it mean when the Bible says that Jesus is able to “empathize” or “sympathize” with our weaknesses? Years ago, a man put up a sign in his yard that read: “Puppies for Sale.”  Among those who came to inquire was a young boy. “Please, Mister,” he said, “I’d like to buy one of your puppies if they don’t cost too much.” “Well, son, they’re $25.”

The boy looked crushed. “I’ve only got two dollars and five cents. Could I see them anyway?” “Of course. Maybe we can work something out,” said the man. The boy’s eyes danced at the sight of those five little balls of fur.“I heard that one has a bad leg,” he said.“Yes,” said the salesman,“I’m afraid she’ll be crippled for life.” “Well, that’s the puppy I want. Could I pay for her a little at a time?”

The man responded, “But she’ll always have a limp.” Smiling bravely, the boy pulled up one pant leg, revealing a brace. “I don’t walk too good either.”     Then, looking at the puppy sympathetically, he continued, “I guess she’ll need a lot of love and help. I sure did.  It’s not so easy being crippled.” “Here, take her,” said the man. “I know you’ll give her a good home. And just forget about the money.”

Hebrews 4:15 tells us that, like the boy with that puppy, our Lord Jesus can empathize and sympathize with us because He experienced every kind of difficulty which we oursleves experience, yet He never sinned! He experienced every kind of tempation and tribulation, every kind of hardship and heartache, every kind of sadness and sorrow, yet He never sinned! What a wonderful and compassionate Savior we have!

      October has been a good month with 349 in Bible Study. Hope Night to benefit the ministry of Little Children of the World was an inspirational night for us all.  Our kick-off for Operation Christmas Child gave us much to look forward to as we prepare for National Collection Week. We took 150 backpacks for children in South Georgia to the Fall Meeting of Centennial Baptist Association. The first gathering of The Summit was a great event with lots of help from lots of people, and Hutch Matteson did a great job as our speaker. We ended the month of September with a total of $788,084 given toward our GENERATIONS FOLLOWING campaign!


November has some very special emphases:


  • TRUNK OR TREAT takes place at the end of the month of October, on 10/30 from 5:30 to 7:30 P.M. on our west side parking lot. Let me thank all the Sunday School classes that are helping with the candy and all the volunteers that will once again make this a great event!
  • UPWARD BASKETBALL & CHEERLEADING is now registering through Friday, November 15th, for players ages 4 through 14 (8th grade). Evaluations will be Thursday, November 7th, from 6-8 PM and Saturday, November 9th, from 10AM – Noon.  All games will be here in our gym on Friday nights and Saturdays from January through February.
  • OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD’S NATIONAL COLLECTION WEEK is November 18th-25th. We are looking for any volunteers will help our church pack 1,000 shoe boxes as we again serve as a collection center for our area.
  • Our COMMUNITY THANKSGIVING SERVICE and DOWNTOWN ILLUMINATION take place on Wednesday night, November 27th, beginning at 6:30 at First United Methodist Church.


November is going to be a great month!  COME EXPECTANTLY!

I Love You, Garth

   November 2019 Witness                                                             



October 2019 Witness

Persecution is always Satan’s attempt to silence the truth. That great American hero, editor, schoolteacher, and Presbyterian minister Elijah Lovejoy left the pulpit in Alton, Illinois, and returned to the press in order to be sure his words reached more people. The Civil War might have been averted and a peaceful emancipation of slaves achieved had there been more people like him. After observing one lynching, Lovejoy was committed forever to fighting uncompromisingly the sin of slavery.

Mob action was brought against him time after time; neither this nor many threats and attempts on his life deterred him. Repeated destruction of his presses did not stop him. “If by compromise is meant that I should cease from my duty, I cannot make it. I fear God more that I fear man. Crush me if you will, but I shall die at my post…”

 And die he did, four days later, at the hands of another mob. Not one of the ruffians was prosecuted or indicted or punished in any way for his murder. Some of Lovejoy’s defenders were prosecuted! One of the mob assassins was later elected mayor of Alton!  

However, note this: Lovejoy’s convictions about slavery were never silenced, for one young man was around who was deeply moved by Lovejoy’s martyrdom. He had just been elected to the Illinois legislature. His name was Abraham Lincoln, and as our sixteenth President he would one day set the slaves free through The Emancipation Proclamation. The truth cannot be silenced! Therefore, do not fear those who would attempt to silence you!

September has been a good month with 359 in Bible Study. Speaking’ with My Deacon was well attended once again this year, and the ordination of Mark Smith to Deacon Ministry was an especially meaningful part of it. Our Preacher Swappin’, People Hoppin’ Revival with Antioch Baptist Church and FBC Thomaston was a great event this year. Both the physical food and the spiritual food that we enjoyed was wonderful! Our Buggy Days Homecoming Lunch was delicious, thanks to Tom Speziale and crew, and thanks to all those that served in the Photo Booth at Buggy Days! And our Student/Young Adult Building Fund ended the month of August at  $757,000!


October has some very special emphases:

HOPE NIGHT to benefit the ministry of Little Children of the World takes place on Saturday evening, September 28th at the Lamar Fine Arts Building. The Silent Auction begins at 5:30 with the concert following. Tickets are on sale for $15 and will be available at the door.

THE HOPE TREE MINISTRY CHICKEN Q that was postponed from Buggy Days weekend will take place on Saturday, October 5th, at the corner of Elm and Warsaw streets beginning at 1:00 P.M.

OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD KICK-OFF will be on Sunday evening, October 13th, beginning at 6:30 in our gym. Remember that CHRISTMAS BACKPACKS for lower income families in South Georgia are due back by October 20th.

THE SUMMIT is our new men’s ministry worship event that launches on Tuesday evening, October 15th. Tailgate begins at 6:00, with doors opening at 6:30 and, worship beginning at 7:00.

Our FALL FESTIVAL will take place on Sunday evening, October 27th, from 6:00 to 8:00 on our west side parking lot.


October is going to be a great month!   COME EXPECTANTLY!

I Love You, Garth



September 2019 Witness

During a Monday Night Football game between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants, one of the commentators observed that Walter Payton, the Bear’s running back and the NFL’s leading rusher at the time, had accumulated over nine miles – almost 16,000 yards – in career rushing yardage.   The other announcer remarked, “Yeah, and that’s with someone knocking him down every 4.6 yards!” We all get knocked down in life.  We all have our losses.   We all have our disappointments.  The key to success in both life and football is getting up again after you have been knocked down by the opposition. A story is told that Andrew Jackson’s boyhood friends just couldn’t understand how he became a famous general and then the President of the United States.   They knew of others who had greater talent but who never succeeded.   One of Jackson’s friends commented, “Why, Jim Brown, who lived right down the pike from Jackson, was not only smarter but he could throw Andy three times out of four in a wrestling match. But look where Andy is now.” Another friend responded, “How did there happen to be a fourth time? Didn’t they usually say three times and out?”   “Sure, they were supposed to, but not Andy. He would never admit he was beat — he would never stay ‘throwed.’ Jim Brown would get tired, and on the fourth try Andy Jackson would throw him and be the winner.” When life knocks you down, will you stay “throwed” or will you rise again asking God to give you the endurance to win the fight?   James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the one who endures under the load of trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” August  has been a good month with 360 in Bible Study.  Our Back to School Splash on August 4th was a great time for Pre-K through fifth grade.    That night we also had a good crowd for the Lamar County Schools Prayer Walk.     Our  Missions Fest has become an annual celebration that encourages a missions mindset.     The Canopy, our community women’s worship event, takes place this coming Thursday.    And our Student/Young Adult Building Fund  ended the month of July at  $688,653.41! September has some very special emphases:

  • SPEAKIN’ WITH MY DEACON will be Sunday evening, September 8th, beginning at 6:30 in our gym. It will be an evening of good fellowship and great food as Sunday School classes/divisions meet with their deacon(s).  We will also be blessed to witness the ordination of Mark Smith to our Deacon Ministry during that same service.
  • Our PREACHER SWAPPIN’, PEOPLE HOPPIN’ REVIVAL will be September 9th through 11th. I will be preaching at Antioch Baptist Church on Monday.   Antioch’s pastor, Jeff Morgan, will be preaching at First Baptist Church of Thomaston on Tuesday.   And FBC, Thomaston’s pastor, Bill Barber, will be preaching here on Wednesday.     Supper will be served each evening at 5:30, with Antioch and FBC, Thomaston providing their meals for us.   Our Steak Supper here on Wednesday will cost $5 per person.   Reservations for each meal can be made through our church office and are needed by noon on September 5th.
  • BUGGY DAYS HOMECOMING will be on Sunday, September 22nd. We’ll have some good services and a great lunch together on that day as we remember all that God has done for us and through us over the years.
September is going to be a great month!   COME EXPECTANTLY! I Love You, Garth


August 2019 Witness

As I recently preached on Hannah, the wife who prayed for a son and miraculously gave birth to a boy who would become the great Old Testament Prophet Samuel, I ran across an illustration I had never heard before.  E.V. (Ed) Hill, who pastored Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles for 42 years, tells the story of how the love and prayers of his adopted “Mama” changed his life. Mama believed in two things: Prayer and Ed.  She saw to it that he graduated from high school and even insisted that he go to college.  As he boarded the bus to leave for college, Mama said to him, “Remember, Mama is praying for you.” When he arrived at Prairie View College in his native Texas, he stood in the registration line and soon learned that the $1.90 he had left from his bus trip would not pay for his tuition, room and board. He started to get out of line, but then remembered his Mama’s words. She was praying for him. As it came his turn to register, Dr. J.M. Drew approached him and asked if he was Ed Hill from Sweet Home, Texas. Ed told him he was, then Dr. Drew said, “We have a four-year scholarship that will pay your room and board, your tuition, and give you thirty dollars a month to spend.” And Ed says he heard his Mama say, “I will be praying for you!” Indeed, there is great power in a mama’s prayers! July has been a good month with 314 in Bible Study.  I am so proud of you for meeting and exceeding our Annie Armstrong North American Missions Offering goal of $15,000 with a total of $15,4412.26. We also did well in the month of June and had, at month’s end, a total of $653,175.62 toward our new Student/Young Adult Building! As I write this, Vacation Bible School is taking place. Thanks to our Director, Rene Hubbard, and all who worked with her and Maria Brannen to make this one of the best V.B.S.’s we have ever had! We also look forward to our Youth Choir Dinner Theater on the evenings of July 27th and 28th.   August has some very special emphases:

  • BACK TO SCHOOL BASH for Pre-K through fifth grade is Sunday, August 4th, from 4:00 to 6:00 P.M. in and around our Christian Family Life Center.
  • LAMAR COUNTY SCHOOLS PRAYER WALK will be August 4th from 6:30 to 7:30 P.M. We’ll begin with some refreshments and instructions at the Lamar County Schools Fine Arts Center.
  • MISSIONS FEST will be Sunday evening, August 11th, at 6:30 in our gym. We’ll have a great meal with a “Boston Food Theme,” and then have the opportunity to hear from all who served on mission trips this summer, including our Youth Choir that served in Boston (that’s in Massachusetts)!
  • August is also the month that we do DEACON ELECTION here at First Baptist. We will pass out the ballots on August 4th and you may return marked ballot up until Wednesday, August 14th. Deacon Election will be in all three Sunday morning services on August 25th.

August is going to be a great month!   COME EXPECTANTLY!

I Love You, Garth