Devotional: July 30th
In a couple of months my home church will be celebrating her fiftieth anniversary. I am privileged to have been asked to be a part of that celebration. With that coming celebration my mind has been in a reflective mode. I was very young when I first got a taste of the fellowship of the new Church of Christ in Jeffersonville, Ohio. I was all of five years old when I stood with the others who sang while I held my mom's leg and cried. At five, church can be frightening.
I grew up in that church. Through the years there was one building that came to mean so very much to me. No, it wasn't the sanctuary. It was the parsonage. I remember the parsonage and the fun times I used to have visiting with the preachers while I was growing up. The first was a very gentle soul named Bob Wright whose wife Myrna was probably the sweetest person I ever met. Their children at that time were John and Janna Beth. When I was but nine years old I used to ride them piggy back around the house.
The Wrights left in 1960 for, of all places, Cynthiana, Kentucky. Bob became the preacher for the Indian Creek Christian Church there; the same church that employed my oldest son, John, as youth minister a few years ago. With the Wrights' departure came the Howards. Barton and Betty and their daughters, Tammy and Donna, took up residence in the old frame house that sat on an alley in my home town. They had a son named Billy Ray while they were at Jeffersonville. I used to babysit the kids later on after the current parsonage was built on the new site. Betty was my chauffeur to so many different youth functions and became a very loved friend. Like the Wrights, the Howards left also; this time for Upstate New York and new church evangelism.
Behind the Howards came Charles and Judy Lawhon. Charles was six feet four inches tall and a former basketball player at Kentucky Christian College, my alma mater. By this time I was well into my teens and had grown to what was to be my full adult height. Charlie became my buddy who talked basketball with me, but also talked life and the ministry and how the two weren't all that different. A lot of those talks came seated at the kitchen table while Charlie and I had a snack that Judy had fixed for us. The parsonage meant a lot to me because of the good men and women who lived there; preachers and their families who devoted themselves to sharing the gospel.
"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!'" Much has changed since those gentle days of my youth. The Wrights are now in California. The Howards are now divorced. And my buddy Charles Lawhon is happily sharing in the fellowship of heaven. Who and what I am, my family and friends and life, are owed to those wonderful men who loved me with the love of their Lord.
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