As we approached the day set apart for celebrating our fifty years in ministry, Sheldon suggested that we would continue doing ministry for the next fifty years. I pushed pause for a moment of laughter at that thought and then decided, why not? We’ve Come this Far by Faith…who knows. Most likely we don’t have another fifty years to serve God here on earth, but we will press ever forward and upward until we see Christ face to face. Our journey has been precious; so today I’d like to take you on a pictorial journey of celebration by Remembering the Past.
We’ve Come This Far By Faith
The journey began in both our lives prior to our meeting in 1969 when we were college students at Western Kentucky University. We had already answered the call of God to serve Him, “wherever He leads.”
While at Western, Bro. Harlin McGinnis, affectionately called Bro Mac, pastor of the Hilldale Baptist Church, invited us to commute to Clarksville, Tennessee to begin a deaf ministry and teach sign language classes. Bro. Mac made great attempts to learn to sign. It came as no great surprise when he stopped Sheldon mid-sermon. “Sheldon, let me tell this part myself.” In great amusement and joy the entire congregation would watch as he told a story with improvised signs and charades – but remarkably understandable.
Young Girl Takes Interest in Sign Language
A young girl, about 10 or 11 years old, came to classes, sat with the deaf congregation during services and participated in all the deaf fellowship activities. Years later we learned that she had made this her life vocation, becoming a certified interpreter for a legal firm. But an even greater discovery was that the deaf ministry at Hilldale has continued, and that she is still a part of their lives. I think of the verse in Philippians 1:6. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ,” What a joy to have been a part of Gods plan in the lives of that deaf congregation and to see it continue to this day.
Faith Baptist Church, Buckner, Missouri
I’d want you to know about Mr. Fred, clad in bib overalls, singing off-key to the top of his voice, “On the Wings of a Snow White Dove.” I’d want you to know of his unwavering faith and his heart of gold to give every ounce of his being to the God He loved and served. You’d need to meet Joyce, the mother of nine children. Against every adversary and roadblock standing in her way, she overcame and had all nine children dressed and out the door to walk to Sunday School and Worship every week. Tragically killed in a car accident, her children grew up without her; but you’d need to meet those children and see how God honored her faithfulness.
I’d want you to meet Imogene. Oh how she loved this young pastors wife. Living a days journey from family, I don’t know how I would have managed without her friendship and help when my first-born child arrived. I spent hours in her home with baby Sharon. Observing her quiet, constant, consistent faith lived out as she cared for her young family, I learned what Paul speaks of, “the older women teach the younger…” When cancer began to take away her vitality on a daily basis, I discovered the steel resolve in her life was her abounding confidence in God, her Savior and Redeemer.
Victory Chapel and Andrew Baptist Church
Liberty Baptist Church, Auburn Kentucky
I’d take you on a journey where I was busy being a pastors wife, teaching in a Christian school, and taking care of my young children. I was almost too busy to remember what I was called to be; a Christian, ready always to give an answer to the hope that was in me. Almost…! The doorbell rang. A lady down the street wanted to borrow a cowboy hat from our children. I grabbed the hat, and ushered her to the door. I was busy! She didn’t leave. I asked her about her relationship to Christ. “Don’t have one”, she answered. I responded, “Maybe we can talk about that one day.” She didn’t leave. I’m busy…what else do I need to do for her? She just stood there. And THEN it hit me – this was what it’s ALL about. It wasn’t my most shining moment along the journey, but when God got my attention, I listened, and Sonya listened as I shared Christ. There in my living room, she acknowledged her faith in Jesus Christ. I watched as she left clutching her new cowboy hat in her hands, and her new life in Christ in her heart.
You’d have to meet Bobby, the local policeman. Almost everyday Sheldon would see him around town and talk to him about his need for Christ, but to no avail. One evening when Sheldon was driving out to our church, the dreaded blue and red flashing lights came up behind him. Bobby stepped to Sheldon’s window. “Would you please step back to my car and get in?” Once they were both seated, Bobby stated, “I’m ready. How can I know Christ personally?” In the front seat of the police cruiser, Bobby gave his life to Christ. There was the theme again, “be ready always to give an answer to the hope that is within you.”
Davis Memorial Baptist Church and Master of Divinity
Blessed Hope Baptist Church, Troy, Tennessee
First Baptist Church, Walton, Kentucky
Parker Road and Creekside Christian School, Florida
First Baptist Church, Silver Grove, Kentucky
Always a Place in Our Hearts for the Deaf
Our Family Through the Years
Looking Back to Remember, Looking Forward to Rejoice
As I considered writing this post, I realized it would take many volumes to share how God has worked in our lives. So today, I’ve shared just a few highlights.
Precious Foster Children
God sent us twenty-five children to love and parent over a twenty-five year period. They became a part of our family – and a huge part of our church family. I’d have to tell you about the people who embraced these little people, met us at the parking lot and assisted in getting them into Sunday School classes. An extension of our personal calling to minister to these hurting children, our church loved them, invested in their lives, and became intimately involved in the life of each little child.
Yes, We’ve Come this Far By Faith
How could I in a short blog post even hope to encapsulate the joys we’ve experienced on this fifty-year journey of ministry. Along the way we’ve seen the transformation of hundreds of lives as God has placed them in our path. We too have been transformed. We’ve come this far by faith and do not expect anything to change in the future. Ours has been a faith journey and will continue as we embrace the words which have led us thus far, “Wherever He Leads, I’ll Go.”
Anticipating the Future
God has led our paths into Volunteer Missions. I can’t wait to share some of the wonders and the stories of the wonderful people God is placing in our path. Presently we are serving at the Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina, surrounded by the majesty and beauty of the mountains. We can only praise Him, the Creator, for His ever-present leadership in our lives.
Have you recently embarked upon a new venture of faith? I’d love to hear from you and about your journey.