Southern Georgia is a completely different world from the Chicago area I grew up in. From city streets to country roads. From suburbs to farm fields. From pizza and pasta to delicious fried food. From hurriedness to warm southern hospitality. One of the things I love to see is when a pastor is so uniquely shaped by God to minister in a particular area. Pastor Scott and Cile Messer were born and raised in this far southwestern corner of Georgia and now pastor the Donalsonville Church of the Nazarene, where I was invited to be for revival services April 9-12. I was deeply moved by the sweet welcome that I received from this church --- especially toward someone who obviously had a very different accent (though Trina and I have lived in Tennessee for most of our married lives)!
I was further blessed just to fellowship with Pastor Scott and have some time with him. I loved to hear about his heart and vision for their community. I was especially blessed to see the way he is when he is out among people: truly a pastor to the entire town, loving every person, always having a minute for any person that passed by. It reminded me again of that simple admonition I received as a ministerial student so many years ago: preach the Word and love the people. I want to do that more as we continue,
Running together in Christ,
Sometime last year, I was blessed to get a message from our friend, Dan Taylor. Dan had been the pastor at the Trinity Church of the Nazarene in Decatur, IL, where we had been privileged to go for revival services on a few occasions. About a year ago, Pastor Dan and Teresa had moved to Royalton, IL to become the pastor of the Church of the Nazarene there. Royalton is a very small community in far southern Illinois in an area that had once boomed with coal mining, but which has since suffered from the economic challenges common to so many of our small communities across America. I could not think of a better pastor and wife to minister to and within an area of need. It was obvious from our visit that they are well loved by the people, and we also were warmly greeted. Carey and I were able to drive up from Tennessee and arrive on Saturday evening to begin services on Sunday morning and continue through Wednesday evening. During these days and services, we heard some powerful music sung by a local young man before each message. Jesus once again showed His faithfulness and ability to do what I cannot by supplying His strength and anointing on His Word for every service. Though the spiritual battle was felt, I could see and sense His Word prevailing in the same way that Luke describes in the book of Acts. We were encouraged to see those who responded to the truth of the Word during these times and thank God for the Word being sown and watered in this church. I heard the term “great revival” more than once from people.
It is hard to believe that this was the sixth consecutive year for Carey to travel with me to Issaquah, WA. I look at those old photos and see a 10-year-old little boy beside me who was about half my height, and now I stand beside a young man who is nearly the same height as me and is not only my son, but my friend, support, accountability, and travel partner on trips like this. What a privilege to share these experiences together. I have honestly lost count of the number of times I have been to Mountain Creek Christian Fellowship, but I know it is more than 10 and as many as 15. Just these past few weeks in our online Bible Survey class, we have been looking at the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul and how he went back to the same churches repeatedly, being at the Galatian churches no less than four times, for example. One point we try to make in class is the focus on relationship and disciples that was in Paul’s heart.
We have certainly experienced those ongoing relationships in places like MCCF. We received our normal warm reception at the church from the very first service of this weekend revival and it was so good to see the people again after a year since we had last visited. Under Pastor Vanessa Chitwood’s leadership, the church is now meeting in a more permanent location --- a beautiful church facility they are renting in a beautiful location outside of the city. I felt that the services had a special touch of Jesus’ presence upon them. There was a sweetness in the times of worship, and the still quiet voice of the Holy Spirit speaking deeply through the Word as we shared. It seemed to be time of significant impact with many people testifying to that.
Evangelist, Teacher, Writer,
Husband, and Father