Big Creek Missions Serve Kentucky Through Faith
Deep in the mountains of Kentucky lies an old elementary school where, during the summer, countless people come to help out the counties of Leslie and Perry. This includes running day camps for children ages 4 to 18, stocking food banks, serving food and building accessible ramps for people who need them.
Big Creek Missions, founded in 2003 in Bear Branch, Kentucky, is a nonprofit run by Kevin Rodgers that operates year-round with few breaks. Big Creek is an affordable destination for youth groups to serve the community and God. Their motto is “Sharing Hope in the Appalachia” and their main source of funding is through volunteers and gifts.
For a summer mission trip, Big Creek is affordable for anyone. With the price of $219, one is provided food and housing from one Sunday to the next Saturday morning. The remaining funds are used for the staff, supplies and worship.
The week that one becomes a volunteer starts with the “hoedown in the holler,” then a nightly worship service. For the next several days, one goes through the same process of waking up, morning service, serving the community, dinner, night service, then sleep. There are different ways to serve including construction, the children’s ministry, community ministry, and a teen ministry.
The community ministry is the most diverse of all ministries provided by Big Creek. In the community group, one does multiple things throughout the week, including cleaning a lawn, visiting nursing homes, helping with the food bank, making house visits, and summer feeding.
“Community group reached out and helps struggling people with yard work,” said Becky Sullivan, a youth director at Macedonia Baptist Church. “They take them to get fresh meals. They supply common household items to those in need. They give them clothes and just sit and visit with families who have no one that cares for them.”
The construction group fixes roofs, builds ramps for houses, and anything necessary.
“Their main goal is to minister to these people and let them know that there are people who love them and can tell them about a God who loves them so much more than that,” Sullivan said.
Both Ben Goude and Ashton Rouse were part of the children’s ministry staff and mutually agreed on the biggest lesson learned.
“I have learned to grow and come out of my shell to help love and minister to the kids in Leslie and Perry County,” Rouse said.
In children’s ministry, one conducts a vacation Bible school-stye program. The kids arrive at the site, get something to eat, do a devotion, crafts, games, then eat lunch and go home.
Without a staff, Rodgers would be alone. “The blessings outweigh all the tiredness that you experience,” said staff member Rouse.
Goude, a former staff member, said the job allows staffers to make friends with people all over the country and the opportunity to “share the Gospel.”
Staff members must be at least 18 and high school graduates. If selected, they begin around the middle of May and are finished in early August – a full 12 weeks. The application has eight parts, including questions that help organizers see if you are a good fit for the program. An interview follows.
“Our group, coming from a higher-income area who most have everything they can desire, going to Big creek opened our eyes,” said Sullivan. “It showed us what it’s like to live in these conditions and what we can do to help. It showed us how to take ourselves out of the picture for a brief moment in time and to focus on others, which is something God has taught us to do.
“This helps breaks down walls that we have all built around us and teaches us to share with others – not only the good things, but the things we struggle with. Big Creek unified our group because of these things.”