The day has come. It has been a full year of transition to bring us to where I am glad to say we are today. This morning the people of Concord Baptist Church in Leesville, South Carolina voted me as their next pastor. Alicia and the children are as excited as I am!
I feel like stealing the old microphone from Gene Autry and singing:
Back in the saddle again
Back where a friend is still a friend…
Well, most of the words don’t match beyond the first line, and I look bad on horseback in sequins with a guitar in my hands, but this fella missed the saddle for sure. Pastoring…the call of God for me throbs with life in me and is reenergized by the process the Lord has brought me through to this day. Giddy is an accurate description for me at this moment.
I think back to when the Lord led me to resign First Baptist in West Union, Ohio, where we spent just shy of 10 happy years with a people we truly loved. I remember telling Alicia of God’s leading, then some others close to us. I remember the gut wrenching service where I had to tell those dear people how the Lord had led and the tears we all shed. It is such a blessing to know that my friend Jamin Boyer carries on the work there.
Then there were these 8 months of trusting the Lord. I remember moving to Tennessee and not even knowing how I would make a living until the Lord opened the next door. I remember the money being tight more that it ever had before. I worked at a pallet shop that Alicia’s Uncle Rick Carpenter owned. It took a while to work up to the physical labor. There were many splinters, an episode of shooting myself with a staple gun, another of shooting myself with a nail-gun, and even a night in the hospital from carbon monoxide poisoning.
But there is a better way to look at it. I worked with Christians. I worked a lot of hours with either Rick, or Mark Keisling, who is a hard worker that I could hardly keep up with though he has a few years on me, and we all had many pleasant conversations about spiritual things. Going forward, I will remember more carefully that I preach to people some of which may be driving home quite tired from a day’s hard labor. It is a different kind of labor than that that exhausts a pastor, but it is just as real.
There is too the encouragement of the Lord delivering us in times that called for faith. We seemed so often to just make it. I would get a call to preach somewhere when the checkbook and the stack of bills looked like such bitter enemies. The muscle of faith got stretched and strengthened, though His deliverance was a lot prettier than our faith.
Then there was the rest, the recharging, the encouragement. Faith Baptist Tabernacle, it’s pastor and people, took us on as a special project to love and encourage and did a fantastic job. We will be forever grateful. We had come through the experience of Alicia’s paralysis with no break in ministry. It took a few years, facing it in waves, to deal with all the many adjustments that entails. Only now do I see how badly our entire family needed this break. The Lord so knows the path we should go!
We are, as they say, tanned, rested, and ready. The Lord is sending us to a great place. My family and I absolutely love the people at Concord Baptist. They are a loving congregation. I will have very big shoes to fill as my predecessor, Pastor Dunbar, has had a wonderful 45-year pastorate there. We look to the Lord to help us. Alicia and I want to thank everyone who prayed for us during this time. We thank Him for His leadings and His plan!
SPECIAL THANKS: Some close friends who especially prayed, my parents who gave us a place to live during this time and have really prayed for us, Dr. Joel Spencer who helped in such a great way as Interim Pastor, several churches that Dr. Spencer lined up to pray, the pulpit committee of Concord Baptist who put such heart in this process, the dear people of Concord Baptist who encouraged us and prayed for God’s will, and our Lord Who leads us and condescends to let us be part of His work.