Day 3Norman and Debbie
In Charleston, West Virginia, church planters Norman and Debbie Cannada have
found that the challenges of starting a church extend far beyond simply
choosing a place to meet. So far, the couple has planted one churchWest
Charleston Baptistand helped start two othersLighthouse Baptist and Living Hope
Baptistin the 70-percent unchurched community of Charleston, but most of their
ministry takes place outside the four walls of a sanctuary.
I dont consider Sunday morning the most important time for our work, Norman
says. We have a philosophy that we ought to go where the people are.
Mission: To love the people of Charleston, West Virginia, into a
relationship with Jesus Christ.
Prayer request: Pray for the adults of a community called Jefferson,
about 15 minutes from Charleston, that is full of adult bars and bookstores.
Pray for efforts to reach out to adults in this area.
The Cannadas spend much of their time ministering with volunteers in trailer
parks where local drug dealers live, in adult entertainment bars and along the
streets of Charleston where they share the gospel and pray. Theyve also started
an after-school ministry for kids, and on Sundays a bus drives around to pick
up kids for church.
Because the Cannadas were willing to move outside the four walls, a
prostitute named Martha came to know Christ one afternoon after she showed up
at the Cannadas front door with the news that she had a brain tumor. Debbie and
Norman also were able to lead an entire family to Christ.
Because Charleston is so impoverished, the only way
to minister to the people there is through meeting their physical needs, so the
Cannadas started planting churches by attracting people through simple servant
We would do real simple things in the beginning, says Norman. Wed get a
cooler with wheels and walk around the neighborhood giving away cold soft
drinks. Wed give them a card and say call us if we can do anything for you.
Norman Cannada prays with a resident of Charleston, West
Virginia. He and Debbie love their neighbors to Christ in the areas inner
PHOTOS BY KEN TOUCHTON
The Cannadas have made themselves members of the community they want to
reach. They live in a house where they can watch drug dealers and prostitutes
working. They walk the streets at night, praying along the way that God would
provide opportunities to share the gospel. Theyve moved their prayer
ministry into local schools where they walk the halls and pray for students,
teachers and administrators. And they still provide for the simple needs of
residents whether its giving a family an oil change for their car or feeding
the hungry at one of the soup kitchen ministries that Debbie heads up in
addition to organizing summer missions teams. One important message they are
trying to communicate to residents is that they are in Charleston for the long
What we discovered was that these people kept waiting for us to leave,
Debbie says. We are in our fifth year, and people are just beginning to believe
that were not going anywhere.
On Christmas Eve 2000, the Cannadas first church, West Charleston Baptist,
planted Lighthouse Baptist near a trailer park known for housing drug dealers
and their customers. Living Hope Baptist, a church planted in June last year,
meets in a building that used to serve as a strip club. The church still shares
a sign with the adult novelty shop next door. All together, about 100 people
attend the three church locations, and hundreds are ministered to weekly.
Theres enough church planting to be done in this city to keep Norman and me
busy until Jesus comes, says Debbie. Or until He takes us home.
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