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Appalachian Coalfield Backpack Ministry helping children one backpack at a time
Pastor Mark Akers of Freedom Community Church in Pennsylvania (left) and Allan Barlow, Pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church in Lawndale stand with the 'mountain' of backpacks before giving them out during a community outreach party.

What started out as a vision for a group at Zion Hill Baptist Church in Lawndale became a reality December 12-14, 2014. The Baptist Men, through the Southern Baptist Convention, hosted the Appalachian Coalfield Backpack Ministry in North Carolina. This year they decided to increase the territory to include other states on the East Coast.
Allan Barlow, pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church, ten of his church members and one member of Elizabeth Baptist Church in Shelby, committed to travel to Freedom Community Church in Lehighton, Pennsylvania. They were to deliver backpacks to the children of the community. The church was excited about the mission project and prayed several months prior to the trip.
The next stop was to secure book bags and assemble school supplies, non perishable food, warm clothing, hygiene items and age appropriate toys. The church was able to fill 37 book bags, including a Bible, the Christmas Story and information on how to join a Christian ministry. Other Baptist churches in western North Carolina provided filled book bags to the Shelby Mission Camp, securing a total of 97 bags for Zion Hill.
Each bag was prayed for during the packing process and dedicated to God through a special service held Sunday, December 9th.
The church group loaded the backpacks and their luggage into the church van and a truck. 12 hours and 570 miles later they arrived in Allentown, Pennsylvania to their motel.
The next day they traveled to Lehighton to meet pastor Mark and his family. His church meets in a community recreation building. 68 backpacks were given to children in the area through a special Christmas party hosted by Freedom Community Church, with the remaining backpacks to be distributed to another church in Pennsylvania.
Article provided by: Joie Lovelace. Photos provided by: Jan B. Sailors

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