The Rev. Andrew Spires says there are plenty of places to purchase a Christmas tree but you are doing something special when you get one at Lakewood Baptist Church in Phenix City.
“These are trees with a real purpose,” he said.
For the third year, the church on Lakewood Drive is using the sale of 200 Fraser Firs from North Carolina to support mission trips to places in this country and abroad.
“We are spreading the gospel in many places, doing God’s work” said Spires, the student and young adult minister at the church.
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Members of Lakewood help provide clothing and food locally. Some have also traveled to places such as Boston and New Orleans to help plant churches and work with the needy. They have also visited Mexico and Romania.
“We took 70 to Belize,” said Spires, now in his 10th year at Lakewood.
And another mission trip to that Central American country is planned for late June where a vacation Bible school-type ministry will be conducted, repairs will be done on buildings and a medical/dentistry team will provide health care.
“We have a passion for missions at Lakewood and we want to instill that passion in young people,” Spires said.
The pastor said he likes to challenge students to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord and to help display Christ’s love to those around them.
Spires, 41, who grew up attending Edgewood Baptist Church in Columbus, wants the Lakewood youth to set the pace and lead others.
The pastor remarked that when the students visit impoverished areas here, in another city or in another country, they realize “just how blessed they are.”
Spires said some students are a bit hesitant to share their faith at home.
“When we go elsewhere, Jesus just comes out of them,” he said.
He said a church is much more than what goes on inside the four walls.
“We are meant to help others. We want to empower the youth to serve others,” Spires said.
But it is not cheap to travel.
Spires said the idea to sell the trees as one of the church’s fundraisers came from the person from whom Lakewood gets the trees.
The tree farmer noticed the name Lakewood Baptist Church on the side of a vehicle used to take skiing trips to North Carolina.
One day, the church was contacted.
“We are always looking for new and creative ways to raise funds. This has been successful for us,” said Spires. “We have sold out of our supply and never had a complaint.”
Lakewood has a large congregation but Spires said he can’t count on only church members for tree sales.
“A lot of older people do not put up trees anymore. A lot of people have artificial trees,” he said.
The price of the trees is $65 for 6-7 feet, $75 for 7-8 feet and $85 for 8-9 feet.
“We will do some special orders if somebody needs something bigger,” he said.
The lot in front of the church will be open until Dec. 16 unless the trees are all gone before that.
The lot is open from noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday. On Saturday, the lot is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. The rest of the week it is open 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
“We are going to have some music and also candy canes for the kids,” Spires said. “We look forward to seeing some families come out and get that perfect tree.”