Blog # 34
In July of 1967 Bess and I moved to Little Rock to become pastors of Cedar Lane Nazarene Church. The church had built a beautiful new worship center and lovely parsonage and was ready for dynamic growth from an average attendance of 110. The congregation had elected a tremendous Sunday school superintendent, a great leader with a vision for growth. RAY GABBARD stands out as one of the most outstanding lay leaders in all of my pastoral ministry. We became great friends and worked together to cast an exciting vision for the church. He was vice president of Orbit Valve in Little Rock and a tremendous motivator of other laymen. He was dearly loved and greatly appreciated by the entire church family. When I needed someone to help me to motivate and inspire the church body, I always turned to Ray.
The Holy Spirit helped me to inspire the congregation for a bus ministry outreach. Ray became my right hand to make it become a fabulous outreach. At the height of the ministry we had 5 buses bringing people to church on Sundays. Ray motivated people to become involved in reaching others for Christ. As a result we had a great team of dedicated and committed workers. Ray and I set the example for others to follow. He and I devoted Saturdays to the bus ministry. We walked the streets together enlisting riders to ride the buses on Sundays.
The growth of the church demanded more room to accommodate the increase in attendance. Ray became a key leader in the renovation of the old sanctuary building into a chapel and Sunday school rooms. In a little over three years the average attendance increased from 110 to near 350. Without a doubt it was one of the most exciting places I have pastored. I did not know it then, but it was preparing me for a much larger ministry that was ahead for me in another church, and speaking across America and Canada.
It really is fun pastoring an exciting and growing church!
LEAVING THE MOUNTAINS / BOUND FOR THE BEACHES
We left the mountains yesterday on our trek to wonderful Central Florida, the land of beaches and sunshine. For many years Charles called it, Paradise. Well now, he has a 2nd Paradise, the land of Smoky Mountains.
We stayed long enough at our mountain view cabin this time to witness the remains of Spring, the entire Summer, and Autumn...thru the peak of colors and the falling of leaves. The peak was later this year; it came in early November.
And WOW, what a WONDER GOD is! As I looked out the big window one morning, I was moved with the incredible beauty and the richness of the colors. It was as if God put a big, sky-consuming rainbow of rich colors in front of us. And, as we drove on the Foothills Parkway, it near moved us to tears of joy and thanksgiving at God’s gift of nature.
Every season has its beauty and blessing of God. In the midst of all the Spring, Summer, and Fall beauty of these mountains, we have been (or maybe I should say, “I have been…”) like nomads, like pilgrims on a journey, wandering in the wilderness, like trying to find our way. And we continue that journey as we relocate to Florida for a few months.
Decisions! Decisions! Decisions! May God help us. And I can testify to God’s faithfulness. He’s true to His Word. He will never leave or forsake us.
At this stage and age of our lives, we have begun the final climb to the top of God’s mountain. We pray it will be a safe journey, a beautiful journey, and an extended journey. May God be praised with our living.
We’ll soon be at our Florida dwelling; ready to greet each day’s joys and challenges. Thank you, Jesus, for safe travels. Make us a blessing to someone today, sweet Jesus. Bess