GRAYSON, Ky. (KT) – Pastor Josh Schmidt jokingly says his church is having a powerless powerful revival.
First Baptist Church in Grayson has been a lifeline for the frozen solid community after two winter storms, including Monday night, that have put the northeastern Kentucky area in the freezer. The church’s ministry center has become a safe haven – a place to get warm and find shelter when there is nowhere else to go, a place to go for a meal and a place to lay your head down for the night.
It’s also a place where life-changing decisions can be made. While there may not even be power in their own building, there’s power in the Word that the pastor delivers boldly to those who come.
They have been a warming shelter since last Thursday when the first of two ice storms knocked out power for a large portion of Carter County.
“I thought if the church wasn’t going to address it, I don’t know how anybody else was going to,” he said. “If we have the ability to help, we’re going to help. We’re part of this community.”
The church’s ministry center has a kitchen, and it also has been equipped for showers for such a time as this. The Salvation Army and Red Cross have brought in some cots and food, and the Carter County local emergency management has provided some resources, along with many in the community.
Everybody is trying to help a neighbor during a difficult time.
“The road conditions are so bad that a lot of those who have come here have been brought by the sheriff’s department,” Schmidt said. “People don’t have heat in their homes and they didn’t have a place to go. They bring them to us.”
The church’s ministry center is one of the few warming centers available. Schmidt said he has been there all five days along with youth pastor Cory Jones and the church's intern. Other church members have rotated in and out with them over the five days.
Schmidt's power in his home is out, and his wife and son are staying with her parents.
With a captive audience and nothing else to distract them, Schmidt has preached to his audience as well. Two of them came to the realization that they needed to accept Jesus as their Savior.
“You have to take advantage of the opportunities the Lord gives you,” he said. “They got saved and we baptized them on Sunday morning.”
Schmidt said they livestreamed their Sunday morning service, including the baptism that took place in an oversized washtub.
“We told people if you’re going to stay at our warming station (on Saturday night), then you’re going to church on Sunday.”
The church didn’t promote what they were doing except for Facebook posts, including some that were shared by 45,000 people.
Schmidt, who preached by candlelight after the church's power went out, said the Lord may be trying to tell him something about leading in a crisis during the past year. Besides the winter storm, the church reached out during some protests in June and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic. “I put on Twitter yesterday, ‘Embrace the crisis.’’’
At least two other Kentucky Baptist churches - Fairview Baptist Church in Ashland and Steubenville Baptist Church in Monticello - have also opened their doors as warming stations.