Manion shares Appalachian insights
Published 3:00 am Friday, January 29, 2016
The Rev. Chad Manion, pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Brundidge, described the Appalachian region around Jonesville, Virginia, as a place of poverty and of promise.
Manion was the program guest at the Wednesday meeting of the Brundidge Rotary Club and shared his thoughts on that unique region of the United States that is known as the “poverty pocket.”
“That area has 37 of the 100 poorest counties in the country,” Manion said. “Forty-five of the people are extremely poor. They lack adequate food, clothing and medical care. Some areas are Third World cultures.
Manion has led a mission group from Salem and surrounding churches to the area each summer since 2012. His hope and his desire are for the mission trips to continue.
“There’s the positive side to the poverty and all that goes with it – the illegal drug use, crime and physical abuse,” he said. “On the other side, there’s their art and music. And, there are a lot of hard-working people in that region, especially the coal miners. Among them are the return Appalachians who are those who go away but find themselves so excluded that they come back to the place where they are comfortable.”
The first mission trip Manion led to Jonesville was to help a friend who was in the process of planting a church in the area. His return trips have been to be a camp leader a weeklong camp for kids at Covenant Mountain Mission Camp.
“About 65 percent of the population in that area is not involved in a church of any flavor,” he said. “When we first went to the area, people were very resistant to us. But, after the first year, they became more receptive of us. Now, they look forward to having us there.”
Each summer the camp attracts 20 to 25 young campers. They come from different situations, some good and some bad.
“Some of the campers have no parents or parents who are strung out on drugs,” Manion said. “Others are surrounded by violence and some are victims of abuse. We learn a lot about the campers at campfire night where we share and pray for each other.”
Manion said, for many of the young people who go to camp, going to school is a spiritual battle.
“But they are learning to allow God to speak in their lives,” he said. “Because, when God can speak, he has a message.”
Manion said Covenant Mountain Mission Camp is a safe harbor for the young people who go there.
“It is a blessing to go and be a part of bringing God’s word and his love to those impoverished people,” he said. “We go to be a blessing and we are blessed in return.”