Originally published in The Calhoun Times October 3, 2015.
So did you pick up the Saturday paper a few weeks ago and find a new column written by a guy you don’t know that pastors a church you’ve never heard of? If so, here’s the short version of my history and personal testimony.
I can’t say that I have lived in Calhoun my whole life… but real close to it. I remember shopping at places like TG&Y and Super D before we had Walmart or K-Mart. I remember Big Star on West Line, Johnny’s Restaurant on Hwy 41 and all four locations of Pete’s Music City. But in my experience people either remember those things also or else don’t want to hear about it. So more to the point, I grew up in church. My dad was a preacher, never a church pastor, but I was still one of those kids you hear about with a drug problem; I was drug to church on Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, revival service, cottage prayer meeting, etc. There is a danger with kids raised in church in that parents and other leaders tend to treat them like Christians because they are always at church. By age 12 I was well versed in church culture but was aware of the fact that I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. There was no pressure from my parents or anyone else but I knew that I had never confessed my sins and asked forgiveness. I became a born-again believer June 19th, 1988 on a night that Sammy Allen was preaching at Maranatha Baptist Church.
I graduated from Calhoun High School in 1994 and from Shorter College (now Shorter University) in 1998. I met my wife Teresa while at Shorter and our first apartment was in Rome. We later moved from Rome to Lindale. I had gone to college to become a school teacher. My degree is in History and Political Science but I also graduated from the teacher education program. I don’t know if things have changed or not, but back then history and English teachers were a dime a dozen. In 2003 we made a big move, all the way to southeastern Kentucky. For nine years we lived and taught at Oneida Baptist Institute, a private Christian boarding school for kids in grades 6 – 12. At the time I thought a year or two of experience would make my resume look more attractive and I could find a better job teaching public school. After two years I was no longer interested in public school and wished that I had known about OBI sooner.
As time went by I became more and more involved in the ministry aspect of that particular mission field and less interested in teaching students in the classroom. I announced a call to preach at age 17 and had been licensed by one church and ordained by another before moving to Kentucky. I got to learn all kinds of new things while we were there. I took a 40 hour class to get my CDL and drive a school bus. Mrs. Bunch and I assisted in the drama program, helping to put on 19 different plays. But an increasing amount of my time was spent preaching in chapel, directing Baptist Campus Ministry (the new name for Baptist Student Union) and preaching supply at a local Presbyterian church. I described our work at the time as “a blessing and a challenge every day” and we were blessed to do it until God closed that door and opened another.
A person’s testimony needs to include two things; what God has done and what God is doing now. Your testimony will continue to change into a new story as long as God is still at work in your life. We moved back to Calhoun in 2012 and I published a book, “God is Near; His Promise to His People” in 2014. I have been the pastor of Unity Baptist Church in Plainville since October 1, 2014 and we recently completed our move into the church pastorium. I believe that whatever a person is doing now is always preparation for what happens next. I don’t know what God has in store next, but I often give people this advice: Don’t ask God to lead your steps if you’re not willing to take a walk. I am currently taking classes through the local seminary extension program and was recently asked about writing for a weekly column in the local paper, so that’s nice.
Please visit http://unitybaptist.church for more information about the ministry in Plainville as well as links to my personal blog. And pick up the paper next week when I talk less about me and more about the Gospel.