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Monday, October 22, 2007

Faith Baptist Church: Thirty Years Of Ministry

Faith Baptist Church is the church where I am privileged to Pastor and minister the Word of God to God's people. This past weekend our church celebrated its 30th anniversary. It was a grand celebration and a great time of remembering God's faithfulness over the years.

As I have reflected over the last few weeks and especially this past weekend I realize that a good number of my 44 years have been associated with this church. I was one of five charter members that was present this past weekend. I was here at the beginning at the age of 13. It has been a privilege of mine to have had the experience of seeing a church started. I attended Faith Baptist Church from 1976 until 1981 when I moved to Dallas to further my training for ministry. I returned to Faith Baptist Church in 1990 with a wife and four children to assume the Pastorate of this church that I had been intimately familiar with from its inception. But I am getting a head of myself.

My parents along with a few other folks determined after visiting a number of Churches in the area that Freeport, Texas could use a good, solid, independent Baptist Church. There was a woman attending at the time whose brother Pastored the Twin Cities Baptist Church in Temple, Texas. We contacted him for counsel, wisdom, and direction as to how to proceed. It was a providential relationship seeing that no one who wanted to start a church knew what was necessary to do so. Bro. Doyle Lawson was very helpful in helping us through the process and even making several trips from Temple to Freeport to preach for us and oversee what was happening. His church voted to sponsor the new work in Freeport.

It was Bro Doyle Lawson that put us in contact with a Bro. Eugene Blankenship. As events unfolded Bro. Blankenship was called to be the first Pastor of Faith Baptist Mission, soon to be church. Bro. Blankenship came from Tennessee and was greatly used of the Lord for about ten months as our Pastor leading us through the process toward becoming an Independent Baptist Church. When Bro. Blankenship came we were meeting in each other's homes of Wednesday evening and the First Freeport National Bank on Sunday. They had graciously provided us a room on the second floor and we set up for services every Sunday and put everything away after the evening service. Not long after Bro. Blankenship arrived we managed to rent an old laundry place in what was becoming the old part of Freeport. It was in much need of repair and remodeling. So we set ourselves to doing that very thing. Cleaning up, chipping up old tile in order to put down new, painting, cleaning, tearing out counters, moving in chairs, pulpit, piano, and a few other items. In a short time we were ready to start meeting in our newly rented location. Little did we know at the time that we would only be there a short time.

For me something very special happened while we were meeting there. On Sunday morning July 3rd I answered the call of God to preach the word of God. I was fourteen years old. I had come to conclude that God was clearly dealing with my heart about ministry. When I committed myself to that end on that Sunday morning I have not looked back. All through high school it was already settled in my mind as to the direction my future would be taking. I never drive by that building without remembering that Sunday morning when God counted me faithful putting me into the ministry.

Not long after we moved into that rented building a couple of men in town who were trustees for a Baptist church that had disbanded years earlier decided that they would like to donate the property to the Faith Baptist Mission. We were ecstatic because of what God had done on our behalf. The property was at a major intersection in a residential part of Freeport. It was and is a great location. There may be better locations, but there are certainly much worse ones. The property had an old house that had been remodeled to accommodate a church. For years the property had been rented to various religious groups who needed a meeting place. The old house was actually not much to look at. It was more fit to be torn down than used as a meeting place. But it was given to us by God and we rejoiced in the blessing of it. When you walked in the front door the floor was noticeably higher in the middle and descended toward both walls. I do mean noticeably higher. No one would have to put a level on it to see that something was terribly wrong. Consequently the pews were always setting right next to the walls. It had a little lean-to room attached to the back of the house behind where the pulpit sat and was used for Sunday School. There was another little storage shed on the back of the property that was also used for Sunday School. In fact it was in this little storage shed where I taught my first Sunday School class in 1980-81. It was not much, but we were delighted to have it. And we did not owe a dime on it, God himself had provided!

It was in that little converted house with the sway-back floors that on October 20, 1977 that Faith Baptist Church was organized into an Independent, Fundamental, Missionary, Bible-Believing Church.

Over the years the church has seen its share of difficulties and disappointments and it has also seen its share of victories, and times of rejoicing. In fact the victories were usually forged out of the difficulties and disappointments. We have seen God provide over and over again through the years and we have been blessed to be used of God to have an influence in the lives of many people over the last 30 years, some of them still our very good friends.

I have Pastored this dear church for 17 years and 8 months. This has been my first Pastorate and I am assuming it will be my last. God has planted me here. As I look back to that day 30 years ago when God spoke to a 14 year old boy about preaching the word of God it never crossed my mind that I would be Pastoring the very church in which I committed my life to that end. But I am sure that God knew and that he called me for that very purpose.

I rejoice that God has given me the privilege to Pastor the dear folks of Faith Baptist Church. Although the face of our congregation has changed a couple of times over the last almost 18 years I am delighted to have had a part in the lives of the people who have passed through this sacred place. My present congregation I love more than life itself. God has blessed me with some of the finest people who have ever walked God's green earth and it is my continual prayer that their tribe would increase! The Lord has given me some stable people to pastor. Most are actively engaged in the work of the ministry. They are a people that love the truth and expect to be told the truth. They love and respect their preacher and give faithful attention to his long-winded messages.

We were thankful to have Bro Blankenship and his wife with us this past weekend to help us celebrate our 30th anniversary. I realize that I come by my long-windedness honestly enough. I have sat under long-winded preaching practically my whole life. I have concluded the problem is not long-winded preaching, but rather short-winded hearers. God has blessed me with some long-winded hearers.

The other men who have pastored this church are as follows:

Eugene Blankenship ....................... March 6,1977 - January 22, 1978
Jerry West .................................... March 10, 1978 - December 31, 1978
Thomas Beard .............................. February 14,1979 - July 4, 1982
Bill Sutton ..................................... August 18, 1982 - August 18, 1985
John Hare ..................................... September 18, 1985 - August 31, 1988
Jeff McEntire ................................ August 27, 1989 - December 27,1989
James McEntire ............................ February 16, 1990 - Present
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