Mississippi’s Amaziah Baptist Church, located between Hickory Flat and Myrtle, averages 75–80 people in weekly attendance, and like all churches, has been impacted by various challenges of COVID-19 — but that hasn’t stopped the members from sacrificially supporting the work of the Lord at home and around the world.
The church still managed to increase its giving to the Cooperative Program 1,732% — from $551 in 2019 to $10,092 in 2020.
Doug Rakestraw has been pastor of Amaziah Church since the first Sunday of March 2020. His ministry is bivocational. He is a certified law enforcement officer for the Prentiss County Sheriff’s Department in Booneville, one county to the east. His duties there include serving part time as chaplain.
“I do a little bit of everything,” he said. “Right now I assist with jail administration, but I also work the roads and answer calls [for service]. As chaplain, I do all the death notifications. Most of the families I have to break the [death] news to don’t have a church home, nor do they have a pastor. In those moments, I become what they need.”
‘A God thing’
Rakestraw said Amaziah Church’s explosive increase in CP giving has “been absolutely a God thing.
“Our [Union County] Baptist Association sent out a notice to the pastors that due to the pandemic, giving had been halted and they were going to have to find another way to get the funds to keep the association going at that point in time.”
The church secretary also received the notice. “She contacted me and said, ‘Hey, we have plenty of money in our account,’ Rakestraw recalled. “[She said,] ‘We have what the association needs … to do what they need to do for this month and the next.’
“God spoke to her, God spoke to me and I contacted the deacons. I told them what the need was, and I asked them to pray about it over the course of the day. They were all on board.”
The church wrote a check to the association for over $10,000. About that same time he’d begun preaching through the Book of Acts to position the fellowship to be an obedient New Testament church.
“Here’s the incredible thing. At that time I was in [Acts 2:45] particularly, where it says they sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need,” Rakestraw said.
‘God was faithful’
“We were able to literally apply what we’d been learning on Sunday mornings. Over the next three weeks … the leaders took it on themselves to do this, and our people gave over $10,000. It’s like Amaziah never knew that the money had been given [to the association].
“We just did our part, and God was faithful. Over those three weeks, we got back what we’d given to the association and then some.”
The church has kept giving too. “It was during the COVID thing that God impressed on me that this was not the time to stop,” the pastor said.
“People have more needs now than they had before. I encouraged people from the pulpit that we were going to continue to be the church in giving.
“We will trust God because He’s proven His faithfulness to us. They’ve been giving ever since. The Cooperative Program is basically the fuel that reaches every person for Jesus Christ,” Rakestraw stressed.
“We’ve just got to cooperate to see others come to Christ.”
By Tony Martin, Associate Editor
The Baptist Record
Editor’s Note — This article first appeared in the Mississippi Baptist Record.