On only the Eastern side of Newfoundland, there are 371 communities that do not have a Gospel preaching church. If I could go to 15 communities each summer, without going back to any of the same ones, it would take 25 years to reach just this eastern side of the island.
I am Kelli Reese and it has been my privilege for the last six years to introduce many Newfoundlanders to Jesus Christ, the solid Rock. I am sent to Newfoundland by Victory Bible Baptist Church in Irmo, South Carolina. Here am I Lord send me, has been my prayer since I was eight years old in a Sunday School class in Irmo, South Carolina. My family started attending Victory Bible Baptist Church when I was just eight months old. By the time I was four, I had heard the Gospel many times, both from my mother and in our church. I believed God's Word and placed my trust in Jesus as my only way of salvation. When I was eight years old, I was challenged by my Sunday School teacher to surrender my life to the Lord to do whatever He would want me to do. On Christmas Day 1988, I dedicated my life to the Lord. Through my teenage years God gave me many opportunities to serve Him through our local church. There I received valuable training and experience that would greatly help on the mission field.
Newfoundland is an island in the Atlantic that is one of Canada's 10 provinces, with a land area of over 43,000 sq. miles. It has a population of roughly 512,000, in mostly coastal cities. The capital city of St. John's is the fog capital of the world. The average summer temperature is 50-68 degrees F, and the average annual snowfall is 9 ft. 10 in. The province also has its own time zone, being 1 ½ hrs. behind EST. Due it's rocky coastline, the province is known as the rock, however, it is a province that needs the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, the solid Rock. The people of Newfoundland are some of the most friendly and generous people that you will ever meet. The motto of the province is "Seek ye First the Kingdom of God", but there has been very little Gospel witness on the island. Up until the early 90's all schools were either Catholic or Protestant. The province is pretty well divided between Catholics and Protestants, with 38 % being Roman Catholic and the Protestants being primarily 26 % Anglican, and 17% United. There are only six independent Baptist Churches across the island, three of which have just been started in the last six years.
After graduating from highschool I attended Pensacola Christian College and received my BA in Missions. During my years at PCC I had the privilege of attending Camp BIMI, a boot camp for prospective missionaries. It was here that I really became sure of God's plan for me to be a full time missionary. God also provided for me to go on a SMART trip to Iceland where my eyes were opened to the harvest field of the world. My pastor also encouraged me to get as much experience on a foreign field as possible, so I spent eight weeks one summer serving as a short term missionary in Newfoundland Canada, working with a BIMI missionary. That summer I conducted many Bible Clubs and co-ordinated the first Vacation Bible School at Cornerstone Baptist Church. As I continued praying about where the Lord would have me to serve full time, God began to open doors that I never dreamed were possible. My home church was behind me 100% and had decided to support me as much as they could. Cornerstone Baptist Church in Newfoundland offered to provide my housing and utilities if the Lord should lead me that direction. With the support of my home church and the church in Newfoundland, I joined BIMI in 2002 and was able to move to Newfoundland that summer.
The Lord has given me a burden to specifically reach the children of Newfoundland. There are various opportunities that I have to do this. I oversee the children's ministries of Cornerstone Baptist Church which include teaching Sunday School, directing our weekly children's program, coordinating bi-weekly youth meetings, and coordinating a Vacation Bible School each summer. The Lord has provided me with a six passenger van which is a big part of the ministry. I am able to pick up an average of 12-18 kids each week for Sunday School. It is also a good time to re-inforce some of the Bible teaching with the kids. Recently, we had one of our teenagers graduate and go to Bible college. A lot of his discipleship took place in the van as I would provide his transportation to many church activities. I also give piano lessons free of charge during the week for children of the community. This has been an excellent opportunity to get parents to come to church and hear the Gospel, as we have two recitals each year.
I also hold a weekly Bible club in the communities of King's Cove, and Chapel Arm where there is no Gospel preaching church for the children to attend. We meet in the elementary schools, which bus children from several surrounding communities. The average attendance in King's Cove is between 12-18 and in Chapel Arm between 6-8.
Each summer, I spend seven to eight weeks holding Bible Clubs in as many communities as the Lord opens doors. Getting permission to do this in strong Catholic communities is often very difficult. I have to make many phone calls to get a place to meet, as the summers can be very rainy. I try to use community centers wherever possible, but have used some playgrounds, and recently some school gymnasiums have allowed us to use their facilities.I send flyers in the mail, post flyers around the community and advertise over the radio. I hold a one week Bible Club in each place for one hour each day. This allows for me to go to an average of three places each day, depending on the distance involved. On an average I will have 8-12 kids in each place, with some places having as many as 35 and some as few as 1.
I would just like to give you a quick glimpse of some of the places the Lord has allowed me to go and share the Gospel with these precious children.
Winterton: population: 560
Western Bay population: 438
Heart's Desire: population: 226
Old Perlican: population: 714
Bay de Verde population: 470
Heart's Delight: population: 868
South River: population: 649
Brigus: population: 794
Whitbourne: population: 930
Dunville: population: 2,000
Placentia: population: 4,426
King's Cove: population: 121
Bonavista: population: 3,764
Chapel Arm: population: 499
Upper Island Cove: 1 population:774
Bryant's Cove: population: 417
These are just some of the places that I have been to. On an average summer I will be in 5-20 different communities reaching an overall 200-300 children. Each year I have the privilege of seeing many kids accept Christ as Saviour. These children are then so excited to be able to come back each summer and learn more of God's Word. I try as much as possible to keep up with the kids throughout the school year via email.
In addition to the children's ministries, I have taught a ladies Bible study for the past six years, provided the music for the church services, and overseen all the office work of the local church. Cornerstone Baptist Church has been a struggling church. In the six years I have been here, we have had four different pastors. Times have not always been easy, but God has always provided. I praise God for His faithfulness in allowing me to continue to serve Him on this great harvest field.
I would ask you to pray for me as I serve the Lord in Newfoundland, and to consider financially supporting the work. Currently, Cornerstone Baptist Church is no longer able to cover my housing and utility costs. The van also has a lot of mileage on it and will soon need to be replaced. We are asking God to provide a bus for the ministries of the church, and then to provide a more reliable vehicle for me to use.
I would ask that you pray for these needs to be met, as well as for the Lord to send more laborers to this beautiful harvest field.