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Salem Baptist Church

Dalton, GA

Salem Baptist Church considers Awana one of the premiere partnership tools they have in reaching their community with the Gospel.


Salem Baptist Church considers Awana one of the premiere partnership tools they have in reaching their community with the Gospel. This amazing church has lived out evangelism through their Awana program in two very distinct and important ways.

First, the leaders at the Salem Baptist Awana club have committed that every child that enters their doors will hear the gospel. They take this commitment quite literally and when a new child shows up for Awana, within the context of their first night that child hears the eternity-changing news of Jesus. This isn’t simply a quota to be fulfilled, it has become the heartbeat of every leader, that no child will leave their church unaware of a Savior that loves them.

The second remarkable way that Salem is partnering with Awana in gospel ministry is through taking Awana to the kids in their community rather than simply waiting for them to show up.

June Buerkle, Virginia Hamilton and other leaders at Salem Baptist were challenged to consider what changes they and their club could make in their community.

Moved by a viewing of MORE, the Awana global documentary, the Awana leadership of Salem saw the story of Julius, a young man who started an Awana club for street kids and did so not only by trying to meet their spiritual need for Christ, but by providing for their physical needs as well. June, Virginia and their team were inspired by Julius’ story and thought to themselves that if this could be done in Manila, it could be done in Dalton as well.

“As we looked around we saw that there were people with all sorts of physical needs and we asked ourselves if that was something we could help them with,” said Virginia.

After praying and planning for a year, they started what they called Awana In the Streets in a trailer park, down the road from their church. Their plans were simple, bring food, games, a lesson and most importantly love to the people in their community. The approach was even simpler: go and knock on doors, inviting kids
to come eat free pizza, have fun and hear a story.

However, what they didn’t consider as they looked upon this mission field in their own backyard were the effects this would have on their own families. Between all the leaders from Salem, they had 14 of their own children who became excited to knock on doors and invite these forgotten kids to come out and experience the love of Christ, personified by the loving volunteers from Salem Baptist.

By partnering with Awana in gospel ministry, the leaders of Salem Baptist Church have not just grown their club, they have ensured that every child that enters their doors will hear about God’s loving pursuit of them. Also, by taking Awana to the streets of their community, forgotten families of Dalton are being loved and presented with the hope of the gospel, and this work isn’t just being done by adults, but by kids who have tasted and seen that not only is the Lord good, but sharing Jesus with others is an amazing part of the life of each disciple.

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