In 2003 I was working a full time job, and doing ministry on the side. I was a church deacon, directed Vacation Bible School, taught youth on Wednesday nights, was one of several leaders on mission trips, volunteered at our local Baptist Center, and preached from time to time. I played on the church softball team, and came to Brotherhood prayer breakfasts once a month. I also helped lead Lay Renewal and Experiencing God weekend events; Lay Renewal is still around, but most of the ones we did were in Alabama. Sorry if you don’t know what that is; old school Southern Baptists know what I’m talking about.
My family had always been in independent Baptist churches. Only after my wife and I moved away from my small hometown did I join an SBC church. The three years we spent at Pleasant Hope Baptist was my introduction to things like Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong. If you’re not Southern Baptist, those are offerings taken up each Easter and Christmas to support North American and International missionaries. I also made my first mission trip (3 actually) with this church. And after leaving a church that fell apart – and being let down by a church pastor – Mike Jones became the ideal pastor we had both wanted for a long time. I was already licensed to preach, and when Teresa and I announced that we were moving out of state and going full time on the mission field, it was Dr. Mike that moved to have me ordained in the ministry. My wife was working as the church secretary, we both sang in the choir, and they did not want to see us leave. And as much as we hated to leave behind friends, family and that church, it was that very church that help equip us to be able to make that move.
We had interviewed in January 2003 for the ministry we are currently in, but were not going to be moving until August. In March of that year my mother had a heart attack. She spent about 3 hours on a Saturday afternoon having quadruple bypass surgery. I called Mike to have him start the prayer chain; I had no idea he was going to come to the hospital. As our family waited to be let in, Mike Jones stayed the entire time. We played Uno in waiting room. To be honest – which is tough because I know he will read this – Mike is not the most exciting speaker on Sunday morning. I agree with everything he says, but he can be a little bland in how he says it. But he has church pastoring down to an art. A pastor works a lot more than one hour on Sunday morning. We were in that church for three years, and have now been gone over seven. But that church is home, and we go back every chance we get.
We moved to eastern Kentucky, and looked high and low for another church just exactly like PHBC. We never found it. What we needed was a church home with a strong emphasis on missions, around the world but also across the street. We wanted a choir of about 30 and a healthy VBS program, but we needed a church pastor well educated and grounded in scripture. We found Ken Bolin of Manchester, KY. Brother Ken graduated from Southern Seminary, the same as Mike Jones. He has a heart for ministry, his church members, his community and missions in every place imaginable. I don’t want to list everything he has ever done, but I will say that when our daughter Johannah was born – by C-section after 13 hours of labor – Ken was at the hospital praying with the grandparents. He is also the pastor we were looking for.
My point to all this?
Yes I have a church pastor. Do I work in ministry full-time? Yes. Am I a missionary? Yes. Do I preach at a local church, and in our chapel? Yes. Do we need a church pastor? Absolutely yes. Some weeks I put in 18 hour days for several days in a row. There are some weeks that I do more on Sunday than any other day of the week. I may go a few weeks without seeing him, but I – we – need to have a home church and a church pastor. And I believe we have two of the best that can be found anywhere.