The Family Faulkner
By Charlotte Ferrell Smith
For the Daily Mail staff
August 8, 2006
The Rev. Peter Faulkner said he is awed by God's plan for his life.
Faulkner is moving from West Virginia to Georgia to be part of a ministry called Mailbox Club that writes Bible lessons for kids throughout the world. His job is to nurture the North American ministry.
"I feel lost in the enormousness of this opportunity and in the thrill of the ride," Faulkner said.
Launched in 1958, the Mailbox Club is an organization that publishes Bible lessons, stories and games for children. Club materials are sent by individuals, churches, children's ministries and missionaries around the world. Many are sent by mail but some are hand delivered. To date, more than 18 million Mailbox Club lessons have been distributed in more than 100 countries.
"The point of the Bible lessons is to get them thinking," Faulkner said. "They learn, and they develop a relationship with a mentor or club partner. They get to be pen pals. They exchange pictures and birthday cards. A significant other can make an impact."
Just 10 percent of the lessons are distributed in the United States with the remaining 90 percent going throughout the world, he said.
Among supporters is Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham, Faulkner said. An arm of that organization called Operation Christmas Child has included publications from the Mailbox Club in some shoeboxes distributed to needy children.
"Now the Mailbox Club participates in 23 percent of Graham's operations," he said. "I want to see that increase to 60 percent within two years. Through Franklin Graham, the Mailbox Club distributed 5 million lessons last year alone."
Those who participate in the Mailbox Club ministry purchase and mail the lessons. A lesson costs about 30 cents but can be less depending upon the size of the order.
Everyone from youth groups and grandparents to nursing home residents and large evangelistic groups may participate.
"If you can read, you can grade a lesson," he said. "The big thing is to develop a relationship. The purpose of the lessons is discipleship. It is to let people know more about Jesus Christ. To know God is to know scripture."
Faulkner is excited about the opportunity to spur the growth of the ministry.
"I am to cultivate and nurture the ministry partners in North America," he added. "I am a pastor of these clubs. My first opportunity will be with the children of inmates in the state of Georgia. Children whose parents are incarcerated are seven times as likely to end up in jail."
Lessons have always been written by George Eager, an 85-year-old retired civil engineer and land developer in Georgia.
"He had the burden of helping children years ago when you could discuss religion in schools," Faulkner said. "He began writing lessons. He recruited friends and in 1958 launched the ministry. It blossomed out of his life. Georgia schools were penetrated. The lessons became known and picked up steam."
Eager's son, John Mark Eager, has since helped expand the ministry. Faulkner joins father and son in Valdosta, Ga. He is considered a missionary, and that means he must raise half his salary.
"I don't worry about that," he said. "I sense I have all the security in the world. It is like God said: ‘I am bigger than all the problems in the world.' "
Faulkner, 51, believes that his previous jobs have prepared him to be part of this ministry.
Faulkner most recently served as pastor of People's Baptist Church in Scott Depot as well as volunteer chaplain at South Central Regional Jail. He has also held positions as executive pastor and youth pastor at Bible Center in Charleston. Before coming to West Virginia in 1981, he was public relations director of Tennessee Temple University.
He now resides in Valdosta, Ga., with his wife, Judy, and their children Caleb, Alex and Ann Elizabeth.
For more information about the Mailbox Club, visit the Web site www.mailboxclub.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.