HOBBS (BNM) - Bel Aire Baptist Church has had many ups and downs during its more than 60 years of ministry to Hobbs. In recent years, attendance hovered around 20 people for its worship service each week. Bel Aire also has three Spanish missions, but the attendance numbers have been low.
Last year, when the pandemic caused churches to discontinue in-person services, Bel Aire faced the challenge of ministering to its congregation. Few members use social media. Several widows could not listen to Pastor Shawn Drake’s sermons on YouTube. Drake and his wife visited the church’s widows, taking food and spending some time with them. Others in the congregation also visited and took food. Then, the widows and others began helping neighbors and others who did not attend Bel Aire.
When in-person worship services began again, an exciting thing happened. Attendance doubled to 40-50 on most Sundays. While attendance numbers were not the focus, Drake asked people why attendance had improved. Guests answered, “Pastor, you and the Bel Aire members have been such a blessing to our family and friends.” Drake said, “It is a blessing to me that, as a pastor, I did not do anything differently; but the people of Bel Aire quietly and without credit ministered to those around them.”
Though many churches experienced financial difficulties during the pandemic, that was never a concern at Bel Aire because none of the pastors or staff receive pay. The church discovered a need for an autism ministry, and God opened doors for that to begin.
“It is an honor to pastor Bel Aire Baptist and watch how God continues to mold us during this very challenging time,” Drake said.