Missionary opening Christian Outreach Center in Frank
The Frank Baptist Church, once a beacon of faith and hope for a small community, has been a vacant building for a year.
Now, with the help of Janet Morrison, a missionary with Gateway International Mission, Inc. in Taylorsville, North Carolina, the building will return to serving the community as a Christian Outreach Center.
Frank Baptist Church was founded by Pastor Larry Wilson and his wife, Becky, of Hickory, North Carolina. Wilson traveled through the area and decided it would be a good place for a church, Morrison explained. The Frank church became the sister church of the Walker Road Baptist Church in Morganton, North Carolina.
Sadly, Wilson suffered an untimely death from colon cancer. Although Pastor Clifford Samples tried to continue his work at the church, attendance faded and the church was closed.
Morrison, a native of Ohio, began her missionary work in 1995 through Walker Road Baptist Church.
"I was called to full-time missions in Uganda, East Africa," she said. "We started a children's home for children whose mothers were in prison. We had to drive out through banana plantations to find those children."
The poor conditions of the roads in Uganda took their toll on Morrison's back and forced her to return to the states for surgery.
"I had rods and pins in my back and so I realized that if I went back over there it would just speed up the process of needing more surgery, so I looked for a way to serve in the states," she said.
Morrison said she turned to the Lord to guide her in the right direction to continue her missionary work.
"I was praying as to what am I going to do mission-wise and how am I going to serve," she explained. "The Lord laid it on my heart, and other people from the church talked to me and I decided to come here."
Since she is not a pastor, Morrison is turning the church into a Christian Outreach Center to serve several purposes in the area.
"Right now, we're going to have the Christmas store and it will always be a clothes closet," she said. "There's also going to be a women's Bible study, but it's going to be mainly focused on the youth. I understand that there's nothing here for teenagers to do."
In her future plans, Morrison hopes to have ping pong tables, fooseball tables, air hockey, karaoke and a big screen TV with a Wii system and Guitar Hero for the youth to use. She also wants to have Friday night movies for everyone to come and enjoy a free movie and free snacks.
"We're just going to try to get things in here for kids to do and for families to do," she said. "Our ultimate goals is to share Jesus with these people. To let them know in Him they have hope for a new life, for joy and happiness. But, in the meantime, we just want to minister to them and give them clothes and anything they may need."
Morrison came to Frank in September and as already seen an amazing outpouring from several churches and individuals from throughout the country.
"There have been work and witness teams here from Gateway Baptist Church, Catawba Valley Baptist Church, Oxford Baptist Church, Grace Baptist Church, Mountain View II Baptist Church and Walker Road Baptist Church, all from North Carolina. There's also been teams from the Ashland Church of the Nazarene in Ashland, Ohio and Maple Grove Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky."
The teams have worked hard to renovate the building by installing a new hot water heater, painting and installing new floor, Morrison said. After Christmas, work will continue as the main worship room receives a makeover.
For the Christmas store, Morrison has been sent truck loads of clothes, toys and other amenities from the churches, as well.
"A 16-foot box truck came, loaded with clothes," she said. "A huge, 17-passenger van came with almost all new, brand new things. There's a lot of new clothes, new shoes and new toys here. I even got a box of clothes in the mail from Waterloo, Iowa, and I don't know a soul in Iowa."
In a true "it's a small world" fashion, Morrison called the lady in Iowa to thank her and found out the lady's husband's grandparents attend church with Morrison's daughter and heard about the project through them.
Morrison is excited to open the Christmas store to the public and assist them in any way she can.
"I want to open it up for people to take what they need," she said. "We have wrapping paper so they can wrap up everything if they want before they leave. I'm in the process of putting up a Christmas tree and we're going to have cookies, coffee and hot chocolate. We'll also play some Christmas music to get them in the Christmas spirit. We have Bibles we'll give them and I'll try to pray with people who have needs and pray with people to receive Christ because, ultimately, that's what it's all about."
The Christmas store is open December 17 through 19, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Each person coming to the store will fill out a small form for door prize drawings and so Morrison will be able to contact them as new items come to the store.
Her focus at this time may be on Christmas, but Morrison is constantly looking to the future for new things to offer at the center.
"I hope to, sometime in the future, hold some free medical clinics here," she said. "Maybe three times a year if I can get missionary doctors to donate their time. I'm trying to get some dentists to come and donate some time."
Although Morrison was raised in Ohio, she feels she has finally come home to her roots and hopes to stay for quite some time.
"I love this area," she said. "The people are very friendly. I've kind of come back to my roots. My father was born and raised in Kingwood and my mother was born and raised in Mannington. I also have a half-brother and half-sister in Magee and family in Fairmont and Morgantown, so this is kind of home for me.
"I enjoy the area, it's beautiful," she added. "I tell you, in North Carolina, we have the Blue Ridge Parkway, but it has nothing on this trip across the mountain going to Elkins. It is absolutely beautiful."
The Christian Outreach Center in Frank will be the first missionary work Gateway International Missions, Inc. has had in the United States and Morrison is happy to be a part of the project.
"I'm excited about this and really looking forward to serving the community and getting to know the people around here," she said.