First Baptist Church of Eagle Butte
P.O. Box 170, Eagle Butte, SD 57625
(605) 964-3617 (Office) / (502) 891-1704 (Pastor’s Cell)
June 5, 2019
The Great Food Distribution of 2019
This February, our reservation faced a unique and daunting problem. The federal government shutdown caused a complication with the Department of Social Services, which made food stamps temporarily unavailable. As a result, most people estimated that food stamp recipients on the Cheyenne River Reservation would be without food for two straight weeks. That meant that 3,000 people-more than a third of our population-would be without food. This was a crisis.
Knowing that First Baptist Church lacked the resources to meet this colossal need, I prayed about what to do. And God sent an idea: There was no organization on the rez, religious or secular, who could provide such a massive amount of food for so many people. But what if we all worked together? What if every church and charitable organization in the entire area pooled its knowledge, its funding, its volunteers and its resources into one huge effort? Could we stop this hunger that threatened to devour our communities?
I began to make phone calls and meet with various people, and God immediately began to open doors. Churches from all over the reservation agreed to help-each of them in different ways. Our local homeless shelter, the Mustard Seed, became involved in shopping and deciding on the contents of individual food boxes. Some churches gave money. Some promised volunteers. Some said they would help transport food to the sixteen outlying settlements. First Baptist Church opened its doors as a storage and distribution facility. One man, Reggie Kills a Hundred, volunteered to live at the church to prevent anyone from breaking in and stealing the food. Each and every day, an impossible problem would arise, and I would wonder if the project could ever be finished. And each day, a solution would emerge that swept the problem away. The Holy Spirit was moving.
Together, we collected $11,000 and gave the entire sum to the food bank, who sold us food at the price of $0.18 per pound. On February 12, a transfer truck arrived at First Baptist Church, unloading more than 30,000 pounds of food on 27 pallets. Our local grocery store, the Lakota Thrifty Mart, lent us heavy equipment to carry it into our sanctuary, where it totally filled the room. Now, the real work began.
Every apple, potato, canned peach and box of crackers had to be sorted, packed into bags and carefully stored. This was a difficult task, and it took an entire week. Dozens of people came from all over the reservation, and they formed assembly lines to pack all the bags, one by one. Windswept Academy sent everyone from their older grades to volunteer on two mornings. Some churches came down in one big group to lend a hand. Some missionaries dedicated their time. Some people walked in off the street, packed bags for two hours, and left without giving their name. One man worked a full day at his job, went home to his ranch, did all his chores, then came back and help package food for two hours. The people were vigorous and diligent, and by Friday the work was done.
On Monday, February 18th, the giveaway began. People flooded throught front door of the church, showed their food stamp card, and left with bundles of food for their families. Larger families received more food, while smaller families received less. All were grateful.
After only half a day, I twisted my ankle on a wet floor and could barely walk for weeks. But from the moment I injured myself, other volunteers arrived and began to pick up my slack. The Lord was watching out for me.
Representatives from churches and communities all over the reservation arrived, bearing lists of people in their communities who needed help. They left with large quantities of food, and distributed it to families in all 16 of the outlying settlements.
As the giveaway entered its third day, we became aware of a great surprise. The Lord was multiplying our food supply, such that it could be used to feed more people than we had first estimated. We spread the word that we would no longer be distributing only to food stamp recipients. Anyone who lacked food was welcome to come and take a portion. The people came, and were glad.
In the end, we gave all the food away-all 30,000 pounds of it. We fed (conservatively) 4,000 people-nearly half the population of the entire reservation! Every single community in the 5,000 square miles of our reservation received food. And all of this was done despite none of our volunteers being involved in anything quite like it before. God’s hand was in this. He directed it from beginning to end. What happened this February was a testament to what God can do, and what the Body of Christ can do when they unite behind a common purpose. May God, who makes all things possible, be forever praised for this wonderful event.
The Fabulous Floor Fitters from Far Away
When I was growing up, my home church was Burkemont Baptist Church in Morganton, North Carolina. I made many friends there, and we did a lot of work together. Now that I live out here, Burkemont has formed a strong relationship with First Baptist Church of Eagle Butte. This spring, that relationship took the form of a mission team of skilled craftsmen who came to Eagle Butte to lay down some flooring. Our Sunday School and nursery had contained carpet that was at least ten years old, and ran the risk of exposing the children to lice. The men worked so fast and so skillfully that I might have easily mistaken their work for magic! Now we have beautiful laminate flooring in both our Sunday School room and our nursery, and I am once again overwhelmed with gratitude to the people of Burkemont Baptist Church, who are so greatly supportive in our ministry.
An Unfortunate Crime Spree
Some news is good, and some of it is less so. About two months ago, a young man thought it would be hilarious to grab a pellet gun and go around town, shooting out windows. He did damage to at least seven different properties before he finally stopped. Our church van was one of the targets, and we were forced to replace two of its windows with duct tape until glass replacements could be found. This is part of life-some people just enjoy making the world uglier, for some reason. But we pick ourselves up, repair the damages, and keep plugging away. That’s how winning is done.
A Local Women’s Conference and My Famous Wife
Calvary Chapel Church is a church in the nearby city of Dupree that is our ally in spreading the gospel. They recently hosted a women’s conference for Christian women from all over the area. The result was tremendous. The women shared a meal, listened to speakers, and encouraged one another in the faith. A few of the husbands, myself included, helped prepare the meal. But I am particularly proud of this event because…my wife was one of the speakers! Tiffany did a great job (though she was nervous), and the women were greatly edified. I am looking forward to sharing collaborative efforts with other Christ-centered churches in the future.
For years, our church’s sanctuary has had dark wood paneling, which gave the entire room a dark sort of feeling. So about a month ago, we decided to change it. The women of our church discussed the best color choices, and several of us pitched in and worked together to make it a reality. Now, our sanctuary is a much lighter color, and its light fixtures have been replaced by far brighter ones that use less electricity. Everyone seems pleased with the change, and we’re enjoying this more pleasant worship environment.
First Baptist Church Turns 50!
In the year 1969, under the leadership of a fiery missionary named Ballard White, First Baptist Church formed a constitution and became an official church. That means that this year is our 50th anniversary! To commemorate this happy occasion, I’ve made several plans for this year. But the first of these is a display in our lobby, showing other things that happened in the year 1969. These included the moon landing, the election of Richard Nixon, Woodstock, the invention of microprocessors, the first transplant of a human eye, and the founding of PBS. Also, bell-bottom pants were cool.
Later this year, the big celebration will take place. We will be hosting a series of revival meetings, each of which will feature a speaker who was significant in the history of our church. On the last day, we will hold a dinner on the grounds, and bury a time capsule-to be opened on our 75thanniversary! It’s going to be a great celebration of what the Lord has done for us. I’m just happy to be pastoring the church on such a special occasion!
Children Learning the Gospel Every Week
Speaking of special occasions, every Sunday is a special occasion at First Baptist Church. That’s because every Sunday is an opportunity to teach the youth of the community about Jesus. We send out a van to pick up children in the community, and teach two Sunday School classes, divided by age. Meanwhile, a Bible study is provided for the adults, as well. Sunday affords us a unique opportunity to know our savior more intimately, and I hope we are faithful in using it well!
Clothing Giveaways, Courtesy of You!
Many times over the years, people ask me if I can find a use for some extra clothes, or blankets, or toys, or you-name-it. And I always give the same reply: “If you can get it here, we can get it into the hands of someone who needs it.” Thanks to your donations, we have been able to host two large clothing giveaways in the last six months! Many people who were in need of clothes have them now, because of your generosity! Thank you so much, and may God bless you all!
So perhaps you are wondering how you can become a partner with us in our ministry here in Eagle Butte? If so, then we are happy to tell you, since we welcome assistance from the body of Christ. Here is what we need the most:
Prayer. It may be true that our church is getting along very well at the moment, and that God is doing great things here. But it is precisely when a church is being used by God that Satan does all in his power to destroy it. So please pray, my brothers and sisters. Pray that our leadership will keep their hearts pure and humble, and that we will live at peace with each other. Pray that we will be protected from the power of the enemy, and that God’s Holy Spirit will shine through in our lives. Pray that the Lakotas in the community will come to know the Lord, and that the commitment they make will not be a superficial group of words, but a real change in their Spirits that will alter the course of their lives for eternity.
E-mail addresses. For those of you who have e-mail addresses, please send them to me. That way, these monthly newsletters can be forwarded to everyone in your church who wants one-and you can get it in color! Just send your name and e-mail address to me at email@example.com, and I’ll make sure you receive this newsletter as often as it comes out.
Financial Assistance. Our church is fortunate to have members who are generous in their giving. But some of our most generous members are, nevertheless, very poor. We have long been blessed with assistance from outside churches and individuals, and we try to use those gifts wisely and well. If any one of you wishes to bless the church with a financial gift, you may send it to:
First Baptist Church of Eagle Butte
P.O. Box 170
Eagle Butte, SD 57625
May God bless you all, and draw you closer to Himself each and every day.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Ben Farrar
First Baptist Church of Eagle Butte