Panhandle church finds unexpected blessing from God—and uses it to bless others

Kelley Fennell has attended First Baptist Church in Springlake all her life. In addition to serving as church treasurer, she is the vacation Bible school director and ladies Bible study teacher. 

According to Pastor Rob Norris, she also spearheaded the church’s Bless Your Socks Off campaign—which has not only impacted its members, but the local community, tornado victims in Kentucky and Tennessee, missionaries in India and Pakistan, and so much more.

Not that Fennell wants any of that light shined on her.

“It’s not about the church. It’s not about what we have done, but it’s about how God has blessed us,” she said.

FBC Springlake is a small church in a really small panhandle town, located about 45 miles from the New Mexico border. There’s a post office, a cotton gin, and the church. The population is approximately 120, with about 50 people attending the church on Sunday mornings. 

In 2020, the COVID pandemic presented the church with a surplus through continued faithful giving. Fennell and the finance committee met on numerous occasions to determine how they could use those extra funds to help others. Through those meetings, God provided opportunities.

Fennell said Norris loves to remind church members that the Hebrew word for “cheerful” in 2 Corinthians 9:7 (“God loves a cheerful giver”) is hilaros—from which the English word hilarious is derived.

(Left) Part of FBC Springlake’s Bless Your Socks Off campaign helped a Ukrainian student attend college in the U.S. Though small, the church has had a major impact on its community and beyond. Submitted photos

“And so we did,” Fennell said. “We’ve just had a hilariously fun time doing this.” 

And thus, FBC Springlake’s Bless Your Socks Off campaign was born, with Luke 6:38 becoming its driving force: “Give and it will be given to you, good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over.”  

Soon, the Lord began to do something abundantly more than anyone in the church could really imagine—and something Fennell had never seen in her 25-plus years as treasurer. Namely, the monthly reconciled bank balance registered at more than $100,000.

“So many churches we would hear from during this time, and from friends and families, were struggling to meet their budgets during COVID,” Fennell said, “and because of God’s grace, here we were with an abundance of finances.”

At the church’s December 2021 business meeting, Fennell challenged committee members to look for ways they could bless others with the monetary blessings they had received from God. “We just wanted to bless their socks off,” she said. 

Those blessings came in the form of helping people in Springlake with medical expenses and unexpected repairs to vehicles and homes. Then the blessings expanded to the southeast U.S., where tornados had devastated entire communities. The church also supported a young man on a mission trip, instituting vacation Bible schools throughout New Mexico. The blessings even went global, as the church assisted ministries in India and Pakistan.

“It’s not about the church. It’s not about what we have done, but it’s about how God has blessed us.”

FBC Springlake members wanted the blessings to be more than just monetary; the church also desired to make new connections and cultivate relationships. In August 2022, a young girl whose dad pastors in war-torn Ukraine went through the long process of coming to America to attend Wayland Baptist University in nearby Plainview. She arrived with nothing more than a suitcase. Through what Fennell describes as “a lot of God connections,” the church was able to bless her with money to purchase items she needed to attend school. The church has committed to support her throughout her college career. The student even came to the church to share her testimony, report on her progress in school, and share her talent of playing the violin.

Fennell says through Bless Your Socks Off, FBC Springlake has truly learned that it is more blessed to give than receive. “It’s opened our eyes to the needs of those around us as we seek out those to minister to, and not just wait on them to come to us. We’ve experienced the joy of giving, and we continue to be blessed by God in ways that we can’t even comprehend.”

Since implementing Bless Your Socks Off, the account from which the church blesses others has never dropped below $90,000. In fact, the balance has steadily increased—leaving the church more resources to continue blessing its community and beyond.

“It has been exciting to see how our people have responded,” Norris, the church’s pastor, said. “They have caught a vision and [started thinking about] where we can help people in a way that honors God and helps folks out.” Norris said the next round of blessings may include helping provide resources for earthquake relief in Turkey and Syria.

Added Fennell: “We pray that we will continue to be faithful to bless others as God has so abundantly blessed us.”

Correspondent
Holly Carey
Southern Baptist Texan
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