I saw a blog post for the 25th anniversary of Bible Gateway yesterday and gave them a shout out. I’m celebrating an anniversary of sorts myself this month. In January 1993 I announced a call to preach. I’m not sure of the exact date and taking a look at a January ’93 calendar didn’t help. That doesn’t really matter though. 25 years ago I told our church family that God was calling me into ministry and I was ready to answer that call. So here’s a brief recap of what God has done in my life since then.
In a congregation of 30 or so there we always 2 or 3 lay preachers besides the pastor. Over the years A.J. Waters and I have agreed on some things and disagreed on others. But one thing I am certain he did right was follow the New Testament model of training leaders. Every position in that church had someone doing the job and an assistant. Sunday School teachers, Sunday School superintendent, music leaders etc. all had someone ready to fill in or take over when called upon. Every minister should have someone he is still learning from – a mentor – and others that he is mentoring. So even as a 17-year-old high school student I had several opportunities throughout the year to stand in the pulpit. I had grown up in church and my father was a preacher, and we visited other churches as well as being very involved in our own. I had plenty of opportunities to learn from godly men with decades of experience and opportunities to practice.
I was licensed to preach at House of Prayer Baptist Church near Calhoun, GA, which meant that I could perform weddings and funerals. Later at Pleasant Hope Baptist in Floyd County I would make 3 short term mission trips, serve as Vacation Bible School director and be ordained as a deacon. After announcing there we were being called to full time ministry on the mission field in Kentucky, that church also ordained me as a minister. At Oneida Baptist Institute I taught history, Bible classes and preached in chapel. I also mentored under a man I now recognize as a personal hero, Michael Spencer. I don’t want to get bogged down here or I’ll never finish this post but as a reminder he is the reason this blog exists. While at the school we also joined a Baptist church where I preached occasionally, sang in the choir, led congregational singing, worked with youth, drove a church bus and again taught VBS and eventually served as VBS director. Another preacher and I served long term as pulpit supply for a local Presbyterian congregation. They couldn’t call either of us as pastor but we worked together filling the pulpit for years. In the nine years we spent in Kentucky I also learned to drive a bus, Teresa and I sponsored Baptist Campus Ministry, we both worked with drama students and I picked up useful skills like operating theater lights, projecting ProPresenter slides and running the clock and scoreboard for basketball games. We came home in 2012 and it wasn’t long before I was the Brotherhood director and Teresa the same for WMU in a local medium sized Baptist church. I published God is Near, the book that was on again/off again for 10 years, in 2014 and was called to pastor at Unity later that same year. The congregation loves us, we love them, and it’s hard to believe we have been there over three years already.
I believe that whatever you are doing right now God is preparing you for what comes next. Those summer mission trips with Pleasant Hope got us ready for full time missions. I started learning sound mixing from my dad, which led to running a full size board at Pleasant Hope, which meant I already had experience with that when we got to OBI. I keep my CDL up to date because it was a lot of work to get and I have no idea when I might need one again someday. It has afforded me a few trips to Six Flags and an overnight trip to the Creation Museum and Ark Experience back in 2016. Not only did that trip not cost me anything out of pocket another church paid me to drive their bus.
I have not and probably could not mention everything. I made some lifelong friends and met my wife Teresa at Shorter College, now Shorter University, in Rome. I have many friends that are pastors, deacons, musicians and other ministry leaders spread across the country. The climate has change in our society in regards to religion and ministry leaders. But I can imagine spending another 25 years preaching, teaching, and whatever else might be in store. I’ll only be 67. God Lord willing and the creek don’t rise… See you down the road.