Thursday, November 17, 2011
Thank You, Parisview
As I prepare to begin a new chapter of my life and ministry, I owe an incalculable debt of thanks to a fellowship of believers who came to me in a time of great pain and helped me take my own first steps back into the fullness of my ministry and my life.
Two weeks after my very painful departure from my former church, I was contacted by David Smith, deacon chairman at Parisview Baptist Church, to ask if I was willing to explore the possibility of helping Parisview through its own time of transition. I met with the church's deacon ministry and agreed to lead worship for two months. I didn't want to promise more than that because I wasn't sure that I could deliver. My soul was sore. I felt betrayed by a church I'd served for twelve years and had mixed feelings about serving any church after that experience. On June 5, I took my first painful step back into the ministry. I preached my first sermon at Parisview, "You Can Begin Again." The words of that title describe so well the message that the people of Parisview began to preach to me through their actions and their attitudes. They listened to my story. They mourned with me. They praised the good they saw in me and my ministry. They prayed with me and for me. They walked with me, each step of the way, as I began to work the soreness out of my soul and reclaim my place in God's family. We walked together, not for two months, but for five months because, at Parisview, the words "church" and "family" really do belong together. Parisview is a place of grace.
Last Sunday, I preached at St. Andrews Baptist Church in Columbia at the invitation of their pastor search committee. St. Andrews heard me preach a sermon entitled "Grace Is Enough." They heard it because Parisview Baptist Church had written that message upon my heart. Through their ministry to me, grace was enough to heal my heart and renew my strength to serve. Thank you, Parisview. May God bless you as you have blessed me.