Mark DeHart embraced his son Nathen as he was raised from the baptismal waters. It was more than he could have dreamed, to help baptize Nathen and his other son Tylor in the Tuckasegee River. The story of the two homeless brothers, who were fostered and then adopted by Mark and Janina DeHart is moving and inspiring––and the subject of this year’s annual offering video.
It is time for North Carolina Baptist churches to help tell Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) story. It is time for churches to plan, promote, and then invite members to give to this vital offering––an offering that is essential in meeting the physical and spiritual needs of children and families.
“Our goal is to equip pastors and church leadership to share BCH’s story in the face of extraordinary circumstances––the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Blake Ragsdale, BCH Director of Communications. Ragsdale is responsible for producing the Annual Offering initiative and promotional resources for churches. “Our churches are our children’s champions, and we want to help churches collect their best offering.”
In addition to the print materials created, which includes bulletin inserts, posters, and offering envelopes, Ragsdale provides digital content that can be used to share information across multiple mediums.
“Communicating the offering to church members through technology is going to be vital this year,” he explains. “While some churches have reopened, others are providing services online. Some are doing both. Digital content can enrich both experiences.”
BCH’s offering website, www.bchoffering.org, is updated with downloadable content such as slides––that can be projected on screens at in-person services as well as appear online. But the content goes even further.
“Social media, email, and websites are key ways for churches to stay in touch with their members during these challenging times,” Ragsdale asserts. “Social media posts and graphics are available to be used by churches as they strive to create awareness and promote the offering.”
For the first time, BCH has made an option available for individuals who want to contribute to the offering but are unable to attend an in-person church service through www.bchoffering.org/ give. The gift is automatically designated for the offering, and the giver has the option to list the name of their church.
“Online giving this year is essential to a successful offering,” Ragsdale says. “Another way to provide members an online giving option is to add ‘Baptist Children’s Homes’ to its own online giving platform and let members know.”
The most important ingredient in the Annual Offering mix is a success story made possible through the generosity of North Carolina Baptists.
“This year’s story is particularly special because it follows up on the two brothers, who were homeless and living in a tent, that were featured during last year’s offering,” Ragsdale says. “After living at BCH for a year, Nathen and Tylor went to live with the DeHarts, foster parents trained and licensed through BCH’s Family Foster Care ministry.”
The continuation of their story is told in the new video entitled “CHOSEN” which is now available as a free DVD or digital download. Last year, the boys were in the department of social services custody and could not appear on camera. Their roles were played by two actors, real-life brothers. In this year’s video, the brothers and their now adoptive parents, Mark and Janina, tell their own story––a story that ends with Nathen and Tylor being baptized.
“There is no better way for a church to help their congregation understand the importance of the offering than to share these boys’ story,” Ragsdale says. “Watch the video and see how God uses them, through prayers and financial support, to transform lives.”
Long and short versions of the video are available on a free DVD or as a digital download at www.bchoffering.org/videos. As churches approach the time to collect its BCH offering, they are encouraged to show the video during in-person services and in their online services as well as on social media platforms. Churches will also want to show it as often as possible.
“Nathen and Tylor not only have a family because of North Carolina Baptists, but they have Christ in their hearts,” Ragsdale says. “They have a home and they have hope.”
Download Annual Offering resources by visiting www.bchoffering.org. To order the DVD or to schedule a BCH speaker to share at your church, call BCH at 336-474-1209.