By MARK MAYNARD, Kentucky today
LANCASTER, Ky. (KT) – The “Letters from Lancaster” have an almost heavenly scent. They are not sealed with a kiss. They are sealed with a prayer.
The letters, written by three women prayer warriors from Lancaster Baptist Church, have encouraged, uplifted, and inspired church planters, missionaries and others lucky enough to receive one of these handwritten messages over the years. Last 10 years.
“I love receiving them,” said Chris Clarke, a Mission Service Corps missionary who heads the Happy Trails ministry in Nortonville. “I know the prayers of God’s people in Lancaster precede me. It means everything.
Della Hall and Willena Crutchfield, 76 and 85, respectively, write letters to church planters and missionaries while Bobbie Browning ensures that the birthdays of missionaries in Kentucky and around the world are recognized with a letter that has a personal touch.
“We are very fortunate to be able to do this and we give all credit to the Lord,” Hall said. “Sometimes my mind goes blank and I ask the Lord to put a few words in my mind that would lift them up. And He still does.
It has become a goal for Browning, 47, who has had heart problems and is physically limited in what she can do. “But I like to keep a journal and write and (Associate Pastor) Gary (Carrington) said to me, ‘Well, I have an opportunity for you. “”
She makes every birthday note different and averages about 30 notes per month. Browning also understands the power of prayer after recovering from a heart pump for six days. She said the doctor told her she was a miracle “being one of the few people to come out of the pump without a transplant or body bag.”
Browning said his writing partners are “two beautiful souls and a godsend. When I was in the hospital, Della sent me cards. If this world had a little more compassion, this would be a better place.
Letters and birthday greetings make a difference to those serving in the state or around the world. An uplifting handwritten note can get you through tough times, says Jamie Reynolds of the Three Forks Association to Hazard.
“Every little encouragement is always a help,” he said. “We have been missionaries for 17 years now. We get a lot of letters, but I don’t know if we get as many from the same church as we have from them. They send them out fairly regularly.
Women write the letters every week, said Carrington, who posts the letters every Monday.
“It’s a way to connect, pray and encourage our brothers and sisters, our missionaries and church planters,” Carrington said. “You wouldn’t believe the response we got from it.”
Clarke offered some more thoughts on the prayer cards he treasures.
“If Barnabas was the ‘son of encouragement’ then surely these prayer ladies must be the ‘daughters of encouragement’,” he said. “Every time I open one of these prayer cards, I am encouraged in my ministry, knowing that these ladies have prayed to the true living God on my behalf. What a huge blessing!
Teresa Parrett, mission mobilization coordinator for the Kentucky Baptist Convention, said recipients of the letters were overwhelmed by the timeliness of the messages.
The three women who write the letters are among the church’s most dedicated prayer warriors, Lancaster Baptist pastor Matt Cooke said.
“They are an inspiration to me as a pastor,” he said. “Sometimes you pray and keep going, but they keep praying and don’t give up until they see results. And they don’t give up on not seeing results.
The pastor said he received cards from the ladies who cheered him on fairly regularly, especially during some tough days when COVID was rampant and tough decisions were made almost daily.
“Knowing that they are praying for me has meant a lot,” Cooke said. “It’s not just happy thoughts and feelings. You see it and know these ladies are holding the line and getting things done. It shows that God is in control and that he is not abandoning his people and that his people have not forsaken them. It gives me a lot of hope and confidence that the Lord has a plan for us here and is working in the lives of his people.
Letters have a way of reaching the soul. Clarke said when he gets his mail from a PO box, if there’s a letter from Lancaster, he doesn’t wait until he gets home to open it. “When I get these prayer cards,” he said, “I open them right there. I appreciate them so much.
Often, he said, they come with a timely message. “It lets us know that we are not doing this thing alone. How often do we read stories about it? Other people their age sit and watch soap operas. They are a vital part of an ongoing ministry.
Besides the handwritten letter itself, the prayer behind it encourages Clarke the most. “We are nothing without prayer,” he said.
Reynolds said that the fact that the letters are handwritten and not in the form of letters makes them more sincere. “We always appreciate when people say they are thinking of us or praying for us. But if we never hear from them, we don’t really know. If someone takes the time to write a card, you know they have (pray for you).
Hall said they write between 20 and 25 letters a week and that the ministry started 10 years ago. She said it was first created for the church family, but has since expanded. A conservative estimate would be that 5,000 “letters from Lancaster” have been mailed in the past decade.
“We were just writing cards to our own people – the locked up, homebound, sick – those who needed to be cheered up,” Hall said. “I had several women to help me and now I have Willena. She is a real, very good friend and a good, strong Christian woman. We are also very grateful to Bobbie. She takes care of all birthdays for us and is a nice lady.
Lancaster has a prayer team that meets every Sunday morning to pray during services. Della, Willena and Bobbie are part of the prayer rotation, Carrington said.
Doug Williams, a mission strategist with KBC, was instrumental in organizing ministry through the Acts 1: 8 project, Carrington said.
“He always helps us,” Carrington said. “We just finished our Gospel to Every Home kits. Each day was a prayer of the 40 days of prayer. We have a copy in our prayer room.
It is a prayer room which is most certainly put to good use with dedicated warriors.