April 11, 2023

‘Til the ‘Hollers’ Ring Out


By Rev. Kelley Baldridge, Pastor, Peter Creek Presbyterian Church, Phelps, KY

The prophet Isaiah wrote, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” (Isaiah 52:7). Peter Creek Presbyterian Church exists to honor God by making more disciples for the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord has graciously placed us in the deep, dark ‘hollers’ of eastern Kentucky, amidst the mountains, in order to proclaim the good news of Christ and Him crucified.

Though this year Peter Creek will be celebrating 125 years of faithful gospel ministry, the work is far from being completed. The prophet continued and said, “the voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy…” And then there’s a call to worship: ”Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem.“ (Isaiah 52:8, 9). See, our desire and anticipation is that we will be able to call to the hollers, to those redeemed, to sing to our great King. And our work must continue ‘til the hollers ring out in worship.

Our Church is thankful for the ordinary means of grace the Lord uses to bring about the salvation of His people. And He is indeed faithful to save! And the Lord has also been kind to give us opportunities to be those who ‘publish peace.’ He saw fit to allow us, seven years ago, to begin serving our community with a ministry that supplies monthly food boxes to those who are in need. Helping Hands serves well over 200 families a month, providing basic food commodities and other goods. We have seen brothers and sisters from other community churches, as well as those outside the Church volunteer in service. Within the past few months we have reopened a clothing ministry called ‘Elsie’s Attic’ that will assist Peter Creek in providing clothing and supplies to families who lack what we might take for granted.

God is on the move! He has seen fit to allow our church to oversee a community youth center that is currently under construction. Phelps is an impoverished area with very little opportunity for young people to grow and mature. With God’s help we are providing children and teenagers a fun, safe, and gospel-centered environment. We pray this is much different than that which they have become accustomed, where many of our students dwell in broken homes and unsafe circumstances. If the Lord allows, we hope to welcome in the community late this summer.

Phelps is historically a coal mining town, which has seen more residents leave than move in for many years. We have a few restaurants, a dwindling junior and senior high school, as well as an elementary school. But one significant missing piece is an ambulance service. The nearest hospitals are at least 45 minutes one direction. After seeing many families experience heartbreaking loss due to lengthy wait times, a few of our ‘peace publishers’ sought to show the love of Christ in a compelling way: bringing an ambulance service back to Phelps. Through our Helping Hands ministry, we applied for a ‘certificate of need’ (Kentucky is one of only two states that require one) but were denied. The effort was not a losing one however. Our county government, sparked by this move, pushed local emergency services to station an ambulance in our area again. In this we rejoice!

We are seeing God move as His people are faithful to love their neighbors, seeking peace for them, while also proclaiming the mighty love of Jesus to them. We have seen God answer our prayers that Peter Creek Presbyterian Church would have an impact on our community. Please join us in praying that we will have more and more opportunities to have gospel conversations. Pray that the good news of Jesus Christ will shine light into the hollers so that every holler would proclaim Christ as King. Pray that we would be a wise steward of God’s generosity toward us—so that He would receive the glory for all that He is doing in the mountains.

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