Come Know me and my God better
As I reflect on twenty-two years in the ministry and fourteen at CLBC
Someone reminded me recently that I am beginning my fourteenth year at my present call at Catherine Lake Baptist Church. I thought I might reflect on this a bit with hope that it would be of some advantage to those who may come our way or have recently done so, or even those who have been under my ministry the entire time but haven’t ever heard the story.
I went into ministry in the year 2000 as a full-time pastor. It was a church set up for success, elder body, documents, leadership, land, etc. I built a home within the first year literally on a mountain top. Previous to this I had done street ministry, founded a Sunday School class that went from 3 to 30 with people coming to Christ regularly, and was studying all I could about the Bible. That was between 1997 and 2000. My call to ministry came to me after much testing in those three years. God called me to confront three specific situations in my past where I went to people whom I had wronged and saw God’s hand prepare that time, produce amazing mercy, and use me to bear witness of the gospel. I learned God’s voice in those early days, so when God called me to full-time gospel ministry, I knew it. Sleepless nights, banging on the text with a Luther-like fervency, and seeing God line up experiences, expositions, readings, and prayers to make it definite to me that my life was now to be used for God’s glory in preaching. Words cannot contain what God did in those days to produce an inward sense of the calling as well as to confirm it by a church of 1300 people. I thank God when I think of it all—all that he did for me to bring me into ministry. Recently, I read Alistair Begg say that the reason that we are to give as to why we are in the ministry is simply this: the mercy of God. At a conference one time a preacher who was dyslexic and depended on the Lord greatly asked us a pivotal question: Have you ever considered that God called you to the ministry for you? I would say yes, I think part of the reason I am in ministry is that I need the ministry to become what Christ wants to make me to be. He has so chosen to work this way in my life to conform me to Christ because it is the best and chosen way of his perfect wisdom. I thank God for it. I could expand on the texts God used to reach me, but I will be brief, they are 2 Timothy 4 Preach the Word! I read those words not like anyone else normally. I read them on the floor of my bedside desperate to know what God was calling me to do next. I read them as God’s Word to me! I came to a resolution that God called me to preach, but in reality, it was harder after to decide whether to go to school for it. I had a thriving ministry in downtown Greensboro leading teams of people to evangelize there and pray. My Sunday School class was growing. People were being saved. And my pastor urged me now to go get formal training. I resisted the idea and began going through a similarly agonizing search to discern God’s will. The struggle ended when happing upon Ezekiel 2 and a passage in John. I found in Ezekiel I was indeed being sent to pastor God’s people. I found in a passage in John that I was indeed sent. So, I went by faith to get formal training. We told our employer who was a Christian businessman who hired me when I became a Christian. I went with his blessing and found temporary work that did not last long upon my arrival because I would be called to the aforementioned church. To describe how God orchestrated a place to live, work, and then upon my faith in him and his work and calling, how he blessed and confirmed is just beyond description. I thank God for it all! It was a sacrifice for us, though incomparable with many we met who left their country and all their possessions. We had furniture, some money, and food and clothing, while others we met had none. We left family a few hours away, while others left never to see their family again. Nonetheless, our sacrifice was our sacrifice and we believe pleasing in God’s sight however small compared. I want to share more, but I need to stop for now. If it is God’s will, I will pick this up again and tell you more, but for now, perhaps you can glean something about me and my God in what I have written. I pray so. I am very thankful for the present milestone at the church I serve today. It’s fourteen years there now beginning, but it all began twenty-two years ago. It’s been quite a journey, and it’s better today than it has begun. I hope the Lord allows me to share some more with you all soon.