MT. VERNON, Ky. (KT) – For the past six years, the Rockcastle Baptist Association has been part of a massive Christmas outreach called Give Hope.
It was born from a heartbreaking situation when Randy McPheron, associational mission strategist for the association, and his wife were attending a service at a church in 2013 as children were receiving gifts and some needy children were left out.
One of them came up to McPheron and asked, "Why?"
“It was nobody’s fault, but they didn’t take care of these children,” he said. “My heart was heavy. We left that night and I told my wife, ‘If we live ‘til next year, this will never happen again. We’ll do something for these kids.’’’
That was in 2013 and the next Christmas season, McPheron had organized Give Hope where backpacks stuffed with goodies are handed out to the less fortunate in the county. They expect to hand out around 1,000 backpacks. It will be a new challenge with COVID requirements.
“In the past, we’d bring them in groups and share the Christmas story, have a live nativity and ask some of the churches to provide volunteers,” McPheron said.
But this time, they will do it all in the parking lot at Renfro Valley. They will check everybody’s temperature and wear masks, and those receiving the backpacks will go through a drive-thru line. They have a remote radio transmitter through a local radio station, and the gospel will be presented by Dr. Todd Gray, executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
McPheron is a gospel-loving AMS who makes it the first priority in anything he does. “We needed a good harvest guy,” he said. “That’s why I asked Dr. Gray to come. There are a lot of great preachers, but some are uniquely gifted to give the invitation. Dr. Gray is one of those.”
He said not only will the participants in the backpack program hear the gospel message, but others will be able to listen on the radio too.
McPheron said everybody in the association is on board with the program and the KBC gave them over 700 backpacks.
“I said to our leadership team, 'We either go all together or we don’t go at all,'” he said. “We prayed about it and feel like the Lord affirmed to our leadership that this is God.”
The backpacks will include a Bible, an age-appropriate toy, non-perishable food, hygiene items and school supplies. He said the value is about $60 per backpack.
“We feel like, in our county, people will come out for this,” he said.
The event is scheduled for Dec. 12 at 1 p.m. and online registration begins on Black Friday, McPheron said. The child must be preregistered to receive a Christmas backpack. There will be 600 tickets available.