December Newsletter

Invading Enemy Territory

Can you believe that anyone would ever want to sneak into the notorious Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz? One man did just that.

In September of 1940, Witold Pilecki, a Polish army captain, did the unthinkable: he sneaked into Auschwitz. That’s right, into Auschwitz. Pilecki knew in his bones that something was terribly wrong with the concentration camp, and as a committed Christian and a Polish patriot he couldn’t sit by and watch. He wanted to get information on the horrors of Auschwitz, but he knew he could only do that from the inside.

So his superiors approved a daring plan. They provided a false identity card with a Jewish name, and then Pilecki allowed the Germans to arrest him during a routine Warsaw street roundup. Pilecki was sent to Auschwitz and assigned inmate number 4859. Pilecki, a husband and father of two, later said, “I bade farewell to everything I had known on this earth.” He became just like any other prisoner—despised, beaten, and threatened with death. From inside the camp he wrote, “The game I was now playing at Auschwitz was dangerous…In fact, I had gone far beyond what people in the real world would consider dangerous.”

But beginning in 1941, prisoner number 4859 started working on his dangerous mission. He organized the inmates into resistance units, boosting morale and documenting the war crimes. Pilecki used couriers to smuggle out detailed reports on the atrocities. By 1942, he had also helped organize a secret radio station using scrap parts. The information he supplied from inside the camp provided Western allies with key intelligence about Auschwitz.

In the spring of 1943, Pilecki joined the camp bakery where he was able to overpower a guard and escape. Once free, he finished his report, estimating that around 2 million humans had been killed at Auschwitz. When the reports reached London, officials thought he was exaggerating. Of course, today we know he was right.

This is the kind of dangerous mission that the Son of God undertook in his incarnation. Jesus Christ voluntarily gave up his divine status (Philippians 2:7) to enter the enemy-controlled territory called Earth. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14a NIV) He entered our world and became one of us—familiar with suffering and pain. And yet he never sinned; he never veered from his mission to undo the evil in the world.

Like Pilecki’s, Jesus’ mission was a dangerous one—a suicide mission, in fact. He knew that he was coming into the world to give his life so that we might have life. Jesus took the cup of our suffering; he shared in all the atrocities that humans have inflicted on each other—including Auschwitz. Jesus suffered and died on the cross to take away our sins. But Jesus completed his mission by rising from the dead, thereby trampling down death and starting the subversive work of spreading the kingdom in hostile territory.

This is the good news of the Advent and Christmas season. So let us give thanks to our Savior for entering our world in order to rescue us from sin and death.

Pastor Ray

The Life of Our Church

Travel to the Holy Land with Pastor Ray

Mark your calendars and start saving your pennies! Pastor Ray is leading a group on a spiritual pilgrimage to Israel, May 18-27, 2020. We will walk in the footsteps of Jesus himself! Visit the Lake of Galilee, Nazareth, Caesarea Philippi, Armageddon, Bethlehem, Mount Carmel, the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, Gethsemane, the Dead Sea, the Holocaust Museum, and more! Walk where Jesus walked! The total cost of the trip will be about $3,700 (all-inclusive, except lunches and souvenirs). We need to get at least 20 pilgrims registered by January 15 to make the trip happen. If you—or someone you know—might be interested, please contact Ray and visit the tour Web site:

Sunday School

Join us for Sunday school every Sunday morning at 9:30. We are studying 1 Thessalonians this fall.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

We will decorate our sanctuary for Christmas after worship on Sunday, December 1. There will be a potluck lunch following. Bring something to share!

Salvation Army Bell Ringing

The Salvation Army needs you! Saturday, December 14, First Baptist Church will cover SA bell ringing at Fareway, between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. The shifts are:

  • 10:00-11:30
  • 11:30-1:00
  • 1:00-2:30
  • 2:30-4:00

90% of the proceeds will stay local and be administered by the Atlantic Police Department. We need at least one person per shift. There will be a sign-up as time gets closer. Invite a friend and bring a coat!

Tour of Churches

See the church buildings of Atlantic on Sunday, December 22, from 2:00-5:00 p.m. Tickets are $10, and every penny goes to support the Atlantic Ministerial Association’s Helping Hand Fund. Participating Churches are: First United Methodist, First United Presbyterian, St. Paul’s Lutheran, Zion Lutheran, First Baptist, Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic, and United Church of Christ. There will be lots of refreshments and musical entertainment.

Christmas Eve Worship

On Christmas Eve (Tuesday, 12/24), we will host a candlelit service in our sanctuary, starting at 5:30 p.m. Bring your friends and family and worship Christ, the newborn King!

Advent Dinners

The Presbyterians are hosting a series of dinners and Bible studies during December. Wednesdays, December 4, 11, and 18, starting at 6:00 in the Presbyterian fellowship hall. Come and enjoy food and fellowship!

Christmas Eve Handbell Choir

We are getting together a handbell choir to play on Christmas Eve. Rehearsals will be Wednesdays, December 4, 11, and 18, from 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Greeters for 2020

Please sign up to serve as a greeter for the New Year!

On the first Sunday of the month, please help out by folding newsletters and affixing address labels. Note: If you are unable to fulfill your commitment, please find your own replacement. Thanks for your service!

Alternate Christmas Giving

Why give more “stuff” to people who already have enough stuff? This year, for Christmas, consider giving a different way. World Vision (and other organizations) offers a way for us to give to people in great need around the world—gifts of livestock, medicine, clean water, education, vaccinations—in honor of our loved ones who have all of that already. Check out the World Vision Gift Catalog in our sanctuary, or visit for more information.

Food Pantry Needs

The Atlantic Food Pantry is seeing more demand. Please consider helping out this fall! Here is a list of suggestions:

  • Canned corn and green beans
  • black tea bags
  • coffee, 30 oz. cans
  • liquid laundry detergent
  • cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup
  • chicken broth
  • canned salmon
  • Hamburger Helper
  • Canned beef ravioli
  • “pasta & sauce” (fettuccini alfredo, butter, chicken)
  • mashed potatoes – (different styles)
  • cold cereal, oatmeal
  • Jell-O gelatin dessert (lemon, cherry, strawberry)
  • Jell-O pudding/pie filling (banana cream, vanilla, chocolate, tapioca)
  • corn muffin mix
  • chili beans
  • cake mix (white or choc)
  • diced tomatoes
  • saltine crackers
  • canned fruit (pears, peaches, fruit cocktail, applesauce)
  • bar soap, shampoo
  • canned tuna
  • macaroni & cheese
  • tomato soup, chicken noodle soup
  • canned peas and pork & beans
  • toilet paper
  • peanut butter (18 oz cans)
  • complete pancake & waffle mix
  • pancake & waffle syrup

New Global Servants

The Myers family has officially retired from mission work. We celebrate their fruitful ministry career! Our congregation has decided to support Kyle and Debby Witmer, who are relatively new global servants working in Thailand. Debby and Kyle serve the Thai Karen Baptist Convention (TKBC) Siloam Bible Institute in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where they work in pastoral education and leadership development. Young people from the Karen ethnic group attend the school with the goal of following the call of God on their lives to be pastors and evangelists among the Karen villages in the hills of Thailand. Kyle is also involved in continuing education with TKBC pastors and evangelists. Debby is providing worship leadership to conferences in the area and helping with the English language program at Siloam. To learn more about the Witmers, visit:

Radio Devotions

Pastor Ray’s devotions will be on KJAN (FM 101.1 and AM 1220) the week of December 23-28 (Christmas week!), in the mornings.

Christmas Cantata

The Cass County Choral Society presents a Christmas concert, featuring Night of the Father’s Love: The Awe and Mystery of God with Us. Performances are Thursday, December 19, and Friday, December 20, at 7:00 p.m. at the Atlantic Middle School auditorium. Admission is a freewill donation.

Diaconate Meeting

Our next diaconate meeting will be Sunday, December 8, after worship.

American Baptist Women

ABWM will gather on Wednesday, December 18, at 1:30 p.m.

Music Trip Update

Some of our church’s youths are heading to Florida for a spring break music trip, which is not free. If you would like to help support their fundraising, please visit with Pastor Ray.

Read Online: Save the Paper and Postage!

Read our newsletter online! You can also sign up to receive each newsletter (blog) as an email message. Just enter your email address, then confirm your subscription, and you’re all set!

Thank You from the Food Pantry

“The Atlantic Food Pantry would like to thank you for your donation of $500. We rely on donations such as this to feed our neighbors and friends in need. With groceries going up and our increase of families and individuals it costs more and takes more food off of our shelves. We could not survive without all the caring, kindness, and generosity of our community. Your help is greatly appreciated, and on behalf of the people we serve, thank you! Atlantic Food Pantry Treasurer”

November Diaconate Meeting Minutes

Diaconate meeting of the First Baptist Church was held on Sunday November 10, 2019 and Pastor Ray McCalla opened the meeting with prayer.

Minutes of the October 13, 2019 quarterly meeting were read, and one correction was added, the new CD’s are Wells Fargo CD’s but are done through Stifel. Minutes were approved.

Reports were given by Vicki Brown, Financial secretary; Luella Bartelson, Benevolence Secretary; Sandi Rhoads, Treasurer.

Vicki mentioned that going forward if there are requests for financial support for band trips or individual camps, money will have to be donated directly to the families. We won’t run them through the Church account because we get into a gray area with charitable giving for tax exemptions.

Church Mutual insurance will contact Jim when the representative is in the area to go over our Church insurance and talk about flood insurance. Flood insurance is a Federal insurance and doesn’t cover contents or water coming in through walls. We have an addendum on our insurance policy because of past water problems in the basement.

Bell ringers are needed on December 14th from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM at Fareway. If you are interested, please contact Pastor Ray.

Respectfully submitted, Vicki Brown, Church Clerk

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