Local man making crosses for church mission project

By Amanda Jenkins

Time Staff Writer
Posted 9/17/16
When John Raynor found out he had small cell lung cancer in September 2014, he started a project that would reach around the world.

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Local man making crosses for church mission project

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When John Raynor found out he had small cell lung cancer in September 2014, he started a project that would reach around the world. He began to work in his shop making little crosses, baby beds and handmade toys for children. But the little crosses became a significant part of a ministry in the making.

Raynor and his wife, Teri, attend First Free Will Baptist Church of Wilson. Through the church’s Global Outreach Ministry, they have started a new project called Crosses for Christmas, inspired by 63-year-old Raynor.

Crosses for Christmas is an outreach to disadvantaged and orphaned children around the world through global outreach ministry partners. The crosses have been given away as far away as Africa through a missions trip of the church this past year and also to Colombia.

As a symbol of God’s love and hope, the cross is given to bless children, glorify God and honor Raynor. The goal of the ministry team is to distribute 1,000 crosses by Christmas, touching every continent. They need to raise $10,000 by Oct. 15 to reach this goal.

All materials, labor and administration for this project are donated, and each cross is made with the intent of sharing the love of Christ with a child this Christmas. The only expenses that will be incurred as a part of the $10 gift are shipping costs, postage and any related transfer fees to ministry partners. In addition to a cross, a donation makes it possible for children to receive other gifts, such as a toy, school supplies or much needed physical support.

Maggie Taylor said her father is still battling cancer and making crosses.

“Our family is truly humble and grateful to our church family, friends and community for giving to make this project a success,” she said. “This project will bring a smile to Dad’s face as well as the faces of children around the world as we spread the love of Christ this Christmas.”

Melanie Raynor, John’s daughter-in-law, said that this project is near and dear to her heart because, “John is such a wonderful man with a huge heart.”

The pastor at First Free Will Baptist, Richard Cuddington, supports the project and invites others to join in participating through donating by the Oct. 15 deadline.

Through the church, the global missions program has been supporting world missions since 1992. To date, more than $1,000,000 of support has been given through this program. They currently support more than 30 missionaries in more than 15 countries through 19 different missions agencies around the world.

For the Crosses for Christmas project, they partner with Harvesters International, Original Free Will Baptist International Foreign Missions, Blaze Ministries International and Colombia, and A Kid’s Hope, a child sponsorship program of First Free Will Baptist Church of Wilson.

They hope to have more partners to come.

The Crosses for Christmas kickoff was Aug. 29. By Sept. 9, the project had raised more than $3,000, equaling 300 crosses sponsored.

Anyone is invited to donate $10 or more to the ministry to reach the children. Giving is encouraged on CrossesforChristmas.com or a check can be mailed to the church. To donate online, follow the directions on the website, crossesforchristmas.com/home.html.

To donate by mail, make your check payable to First Free Will Baptist Church and write “Crosses for Christmas” on the “for” line of your check. Send to First Free Will Baptist Church, Crosses for Christmas, 4865 Nash Street NW,Wilson, NC 27896.

Those who give $10 or more will receive a handmade Christmas ornament cross of their own, and their gift is 100 percent tax deductible.

To follow the project, updates are made occasionally on the Crosses for Christmas Facebook page.