Wednesday, September 18, 2013

No Secrets: Pastoring the Same Church for 47 Years

It's been 3 years this Thursday 
since I lost my mama.

(Mama was valedictorian of her high school graduating class)

She was an incredible woman, 
the most amazing pastor's wife
and mother to her church family,
and the most selfish mom
to her children
you will ever know.

Six months after her death, 
my daddy passed away.
For him, life without her
was never the same.

(As you will find out a few chapters later, 
Daddy showed up at Trevecca Nazarene College
with only a trunk, a suit of clothes and the clothes on his back.
One of his jobs was night watchman.
Looks like he's sleeping on the job.)

Blogging has given me an opportunity
to express my pain
while expressing myself creatively.

Their story was transcribed to my daughter.
She typed while mama talked.

This is their story written in their own words...

No Secrets

This is the story of an eighteen year old country teenage boy and his country girlfriend turned pastor of a small-town, home mission church. I have been asked over and over, "What's the secret to pastoring the same church for forty-seven years?"  I have no secret formula like do this, this, this, or this and it works.  However, one thing is vital.  you need a good wife who supports you and gets involved in every phase of the work.  That is why Doris is "reflecting," giving her thoughts on everything I say.

I am not trying to take credit for what has been accomplished.  I only want to give God the glory, without Whom I am a complete failure.

Please allow me to tell my story and You decide what the secrets are.

The Beginning...

This all began the summer of 1950 when three ministerial students from Trevecca Nazarene College took their small savings from part-time work, bought a tent, and went to Georgia to evangelize during the summer break.  The tent was put up in a couple of places with no apparent signs of real revival.  After praying about where to go next, the Lord directed them to a vacant lot between the small railroad towns of Tennille and Sandersville.  Why here?  There was no Church of the Nazarene, so why not?

One young man, Verlie Campbell played the accordion and the others, Robert Kea and I, Emory Lindsey, led the singing.  We took turns preaching.  From the very first service, God began to move in a wonderful way.  Tears flowed as people confessed their sins and prayed through to definite victory while kneeling in sawdust at an old-fashioned mourner's bench (an altar).

One family, members of another church, thirty miles away, had prayed for years for a Nazarene church to come to the area.  The couple began to instill in the new converts the need for a church.  

Many questions needed to be answered before a church could be organized.  Who would pastor?  How could a small congregation pay a pastor's salary?  Where could they get a building that could easily be turned into a church when there was no money?  Prayer was the secret to starting the church.  The people began to intercede.  The District Superintendent agreed to pay a pastor $15 a week.  Sometimes I got it, sometimes I didn't.  A cotton field was planted and harvested to pay the pastor and the expenses of the church.

None of us boys were married.  I was engaged to be married, but needed to finish college and find a church to pastor.  Evidently as for college, God had other plans.  Trevecca offered a theological degree much like a Bible College does today.  I had decided to pursue the degree, which could be completed in two years.  Because I had to work my way through, I could not take a full load and still lacked a few hours.  The Lord began to press it upon my heart to take the new pastorate and finish my degree through the district home study program for ministers.  Who would have thought that when I left for Trevecca, I would not go back?

We began to look around for a building.  We found that we could buy the old machine shop beside the tent and the lot nearby.  The machine shop had greasy floors that were cement, large sliding doors on three sides and metal windows.  The tent we had been meeting in had been badly torn in a thunderstorm, so we repaired it and continued to meet there while we renovated the old building.

Mama and Daddy were married the next year.
You will hear more about their journey of 
courtship, marriage and ministry
in the following chapters.  

This is one of my favorite photos. 

Mama's smile was contagious. 
She loved to laugh 
and enjoyed every moment of their ministry.

I dedicate this first chapter to her.  
She is my inspiration.


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