My challenge to you who read this....find the people group you are meant to reach and go all out for Jesus to reach them! It takes all of us doing what each of us are burdened to do. That is what we are purposed to do. God gave each of us specific talents and passions to be used for His glory. Go out and make Daddy proud!
As I sit tonight with mixed emotions, I ponder what tomorrow holds. We will serve our last service at Logan Road. With the day will come an end to an era for us. There will be a fellowship meal after the service and several good-byes, some of which will be tearful. In that body we love so much are many people who just need to be loved and accepted. We all are in need of love and acceptance. In reflecting over the past several weeks, I recall Regan singing one of my favorite songs. The song is Perfect People by Natalie Grant. In the song, we are reminded that..."There's no such thing as perfect people. There's no such thing as a perfect life. So come as you are, broken and scared. Lift up your heart and be amazed. And be changed by a perfect God." Really, isn't that what church and our service in His name should be? It is an awesome song with an awesome message. May we each be encouraged that there is no perfect people, no not one of us. At the same time, shall we each strive to be what He desires of us. The very mindset of this song is exactly why we do what we do....bikers need Jesus too! I have always said that people don't question a pastor who 'has a nursing home ministry', why question the pastor who ministers to bikers? Actually, this week, the Associational Secretary, Tina, introduced me to her mom and said that we 'have a motorcycle ministry.' I told her that we didn't have a motorcycle ministry, that a motorcycle ministry, more specifically, LAHBW, has us.
My challenge to you who read this....find the people group you are meant to reach and go all out for Jesus to reach them! It takes all of us doing what each of us are burdened to do. That is what we are purposed to do. God gave each of us specific talents and passions to be used for His glory. Go out and make Daddy proud!
So, we are diligently seeking what the Lord desires for us. We are sure that He desired Chas to resign from LRBC. What we are not certain of at the moment is where we are to go from here. We have been invited to visit several churches. We are pretty sure we will go visit with friends in Bonifay. Brent is a brother biker/pastor. Actually, Brent & Deborah had the awesome opportunity to serve in a church in the Daytona area that had an awesome outreach opportunity during Bike Week. They are currently back in our area. Brent has a Vulcan 2000...quite a hoss of a bike. Debra used to ride her own Shadow 600. However, she was in an automobile accident and now has rods in her arm which cause pain from the vibrations of riding solo, so she sold her bike & rides with Brent now. We are excited to be able to visit church with them. We are more excited about the possibility of being able to do more motorcycle ministry related, but we still need a church home. Please be in prayer for us as we finish our obligations and commitments at LRBC and look to the future. David and the Giants once sang, '...everybody's gotta spread their wings and run....' Well, we are spreading our wings and running. The song goes on to say, "Remember, life is what you make it, so don't die young. We carry the cross and we pray that we don't get burned, more than who's right or wrong, we've got to live and learn." Sadly, too many times in life, we all carry the cross praying we don't get burned, but often, the burn comes from those who claim the name of Jesus. May it never be that we are burning those around us. May it be that we all spread our wings and run, remembering that it's not who's right or wrong, may we live and learn.
I urge you all to spread your wings and run.
After a long, tiring day at work, Casey, Dana & Zadia came by my office for a visit. Dana told me at the office of a video that Jarrod had posted. She said she could only watch part of it before she simply was so broken-hearted that she had to stop watching. At the time, I had no clue what the video was. We came home, changed clothes and went for Chas to help Ryan the alternator on their van. When we got home around midnight and sat down to eat a quick bite, Chas told me that Hannah Grace needed prayers, this had been posted on our local news website. Hannah Grace is the four-year-old daughter of one of my former teachers who was diagnosed with a very aggressive type of brain tumor two years ago. We have followed her story closely and prayed for her and her family. I watched the video that her daddy, Jarod had posted. This video shares more of their story than I ever could. As I post this, my heart is heavy and I humbly ask for your prayers for the Harrison family. Please visit the link and watch this video.
As I rode to work today, listening to my ipod, many thoughts were flowing. Where do we go from here? What do we do now? I can't really answer either of those two questions in full, but I can tell you that we are going to apply Matthew 6:33...we are going to 'seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you'. I have thought a lot and prayed more. Uncertainty is sometimes scary, but thankfully, while we do not know the future, we do know WHO holds it. The day was filled with conversations with people who want the very best for us and for the kingdom. As I left work tonight, headed for church, I was encouraged in the day. Moreover, I was encouraged by the kind words that been shared time and again as the day progressed. A part of me didn't really want to go tonight, but a part of me did. It is a bitter-sweet. To love a people so and to want the best for them, to not know what the future holds, and to realize that you will not be blessed to see many of these people on a regular basis. When I got there, I pulled up a chair between Jackie and Danny. Danny and wife, Kathryn have been 'our' deacon family ministry family for our entire time at Logan Road. Danny and Kathryn have been such an encouragement to us and our boys through the years. I told Danny & Kathryn tonight that they will always be our deacon family. We love & appreciate them. Danny said that he is excited to see what is next for us. So are we, but in that process of heading into the great adventure ahead of us, we must take some time to heal. While taking that time for healing, we will ride as much as possible and be involved with as many bikers and events as possible, always looking to see where the Lord is working that we might join Him in His work.
After church, we went with friends, Ryan & Angie to Roy & Jackie's then to Rodeo for some food and fellowship. Both were great. We are blessed to have such great friends and such great opportunities to share the love of Jesus.
We have a busy weekend ahead as we finish clearing out our possessions from our offices and serve our last Sunday at Logan Road. If you have nothing else to pray for, we appreciate your prayers for our beloved body. May the Lord be first and may the few who want legalism and things 'their way' be open to change that glorifies the Lord.
May we ALL place Him first and seek to know Him more!
This week has been somewhat difficult due to the emotional strain from the resignation from Logan Road and the reaction of the majority of the congregation. The morning started with a phone call from Chas' sister to tell him that his dad was going to begin to be cared for by the local hospice. He has battled Alzheimer's for several years and has declined greatly over the past two months. They have begun to puree his food and he doesn't like it, thus eating has declined greatly. It is our understanding that with the rate of decline, he is looking at months. It was difficult for Chas as he received this news, then paperwork faxed to him to sign for the funeral home when the time comes, as well as the handwritten obituary that would be submitted to the printers at the proper time.
This past week or so has been extremely taxing on us, but the Lord's grace is ever present. We have been blessed with good friends who love and encourage us. When we got home from work today, a letter from a couple in the Logan Road congregation was in the mailbox. Chas asked me to open it and read it aloud (we were soaked from riding through a horrible rain storm, but wanted to read it before we changed). I literally had to stop reading the letter several times because I simply couldn't hold my composure. The couple have been in the congregation, and 'members' of Logan Road, at least from Chas' and my perspective, since circa 2003. However, those 2-3 with 'issues' had complained in the past because people, like this couple, would come regularly to worship, but had not 'committed' in membership. We love this couple and many others like them, who love the Lord. Let's face it people, we can become too legalistic in churches. Membership gives you a 'right to vote on important matters' according to some, but doesn't make or break your relationship with the Lord, nor the body of believers. In Acts, they were first called Christians at Antioch, not because they joined a particular fellowship but because they met together and taught. I clearly see in God's word that it is important to meet together and to teach the word (Acts 11:23-26) and that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, however, I do not see where we MUST JOIN A CHURCH BY MEMBERSHIP LETTER.
As I sit and complete this post, I must confess my love for Jesus, my family and friends, many of whom are like family. We simply can not express the love we have felt from our Lord and those with whom the Lord has deemed to meld our hearts with, in our personal day-to-day lives, at Logan Road and in HBW and LAHBW. We are excited as we watch the Lord work mightily in our lives at this time! How Great is Our God, sing with me, How Great is Our God....
It is my hope that through the filling in of our back-story in the previous posts, many of you who may not know us well were able to understand a little bit of who we are and why we do what we do. The experiences shared were intended to be a window into the things that have shaped and molded us as well as to help explain how we got here. There will be glimpses back into other events that have molded us as posts continue. It is all for love of Jesus and out of deep gratitude for what He did on the cross for us that we do what we do. You see, we understand that He loved us in spite of our many faults, not because of anything that we had done. He gave of Himself that we might not experience an eternity in hell. We look around us and see people hurting and people needing to see something to believe in. As stated in an earlier post, my Chas was my something to believe in. He could not die to save me, could not die to redeem me, but he did live a life before me that gave me something to believe in....the Jesus he had found, the Jesus that had made a very positive impact in his life and Who had given him hope and peace in his life.
It is often said that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. We want people to know we care an more importantly, how much He cares. The great adventure we are about to embark on is to continue to pursue to uplift and glorify our Lord through service to Him in LAHBW. We are unsure of much of the future, but we are sure of Who holds the future. We have been encouraged in so many ways in the past 36 or so hours. We, along with Darryl and Karyn want to know Him more and serve Him as He sees fit for us to do so.
Tonight after I got off work, Chas and a couple whom we love met me at work. We spent some time together just sharing with each other and of course, some time behind bars. We plan on doing just that as the days go on. We share Jesus in love and as much time behind bars as possible. We are encouraged that in the past couple of days, we have had conversations with a couple of couples who, in His time, just might be the next members of LAHBW.
Who knows what the future holds? Not us, for sure, but again, I say, we know who holds the future. Some have mentioned to Chas that they would desire him to start a church. We have no intention of even heading in that direction at this time. What we are sure of is that the Lord desires us to have lots of organized rides and a regular biker Bible study. We will continue to work at our current places of employment (Gulf Coast Education and Wiregrass Hospice). We feel very deeply that these positions are where the Lord wants to use us daily. While many may view these as 'secular' jobs, we are positive that the Lord has us in them for His honor and glory. We are excited as we continue on this journey in to the wild blue yonder. We appreciate your prayers and encourage you to continue to track this journey with us.
Well, as promised, the Logan Road Years are, as follows. Of course, some of the Logan Road years ran simultaneously with the Graceville years. We actually decided to move closer to the church field to be able to be closer to the congregation when we were not at school. This decision came as we lost a dear sweet man to a heart attack the day after we brought Mike home from the hospital. That was January of 1998. So, in June of 1998, we moved to Newton, AL. We were elated that same fall to have our brothers and sisters from HBW in GA to come and spend the weekend with us. It was AWESOME to have them there with us for the weekend. I must confess that I felt as I sold them out a bit on Sunday morning by wearing slacks to church with my vest instead of jeans. I determined after that weekend that I would be me, not who the 'church folk might think I should.' In other words, I began to wear jeans to church all the time. To my surprise, the congregation had absolutely no problem with it. Furthermore, they had no problem with Chas beginning to grow his hair. The summer before, we had the awesome opportunity to go with a few from the church along with the Associational Mission Team to a little place called Holly Beach Louisiana. It was on that trip, just a week after I had hit the dog on the bike and gone down, that I began to experience morning sickness. Believe me, the FIRST thing I did when we returned was to go to Wal-Mart and purchase an EPT....POSITIVE...nine months later, we had our little Mike.
While at Logan Road, we experienced many mountain tops and many valleys. Mountain top experiences included being embraced (even though we were definitely not the typical pastor's family), Chas having the opportunity to baptize David, who had accepted Jesus some years before, but had been afraid to be baptized, opportunities to be able to go and speak at motorcycle events, seeing people work to do things for the kingdom, The visit of our beloved HBW family, relationships built that have and will continue to stand the test of time, and MOST of all, the love of our Father, who provided for us and saw us through much.
Valley experiences were such things as seeing some of the very ones who once boasted of having a 'long-haired pastor' turn 180 degrees, seeing many great people of God lose a battle on this side of Glory and go on before us. The greatest loss in that regard was our beloved Youth Pastor, Hugh. Chas and I had met Hugh and Rhonda at college and the Lord saw fit to bring them on staff with us. They had been with us about three years when Hugh began to experience some stomach issues. What was first thought to be a bowel obstruction was soon found to be stage 4 colon cancer. We were shaken with the diagnosis, but hopeful that a miracle would occur. Hugh went through surgery and chemo. The chemo took so much out of him. He eventually decided to discontinue treatments. I remember very clearly having Hugh spend the weekend with us as we had a youth fund-raiser. He stood outside our house talking to us as we grilled dinner and told us that he 'just might not beat this thing.' This was NOT what I wanted to hear or accept. We loved Hugh, Rhonda and the boys....still do. That was in about May. Hugh continued to travel to the church from Graceville and even carried the youth to youth camp that summer, as well as YEC. We went to youth camp, partly for Chas to be able to share daily devotions, and greatly to be there for Hugh and Rhonda. We admired their faithfulness and resolve. Hugh remained enrolled in college, doing much of the work from home in the fall. Rhonda began to come and fulfill many of Hugh's responsibilities at the church when he was unable to make the trip up. I can not even put into words how our hearts hurt for and with them. We had hoped for a miracle, but Hugh told us he would win this battle one way or the other. We went to see him and Rhonda in September of that year. The purpose for the visit was for them to tell us their wishes regarding Hugh's funeral. Again, this was not supposed to be a conversation we were supposed to be having with a 34 year old man with whom we served and loved so greatly. When we left that night, Hugh stood and hugged us. He and Chas wept on each other's shoulders. A day or so later, on my daily phone call to check on him, he told me that he cried so that night because he felt as if he and Chas were like David and Jonathon saying good-bye. Still, words I did not want to hear, but at the same time, words that have brought peace and comfort since. One morning in mid-September, Chas and I were in morning staff prayer time/meeting at the school we were on staff at when the church secretary, the pastor's wife from there, walked in with a pained look. She told me that Desiree' had just called....our friend had been healed and was no longer in pain. We were devastated. We immediately went and got our son, David, who was in the youth group and loved Hugh dealy, took him to the principal's office and told him. We then tearfully excused ourselves and headed to Graceville. Two days later, when Chas stood in the pulpit to preach the funeral of our loved one, he gripped the pulpit, cleared his throat and gathered the strength to do the most difficult funeral ever. Later, the associationl secretary, Lisa, told me that she didn't think in the early moments of the service that Chas would be able to get through it. She said that she was thinking that the best thing Chas could do was to ask someone to pray and just sit down, but that she was pleased that he was able to garner the required strength to share what our brother had meant to so many. That day, Logan Road had more people than ever before. There were family, friends, professors, college administrators, associational staff and a lot of broken hearts. Hugh's youth served as honorary pallbearers. My dear sister, Rhonda was such a rock, just as she had been for the entire year of this battle. I will ever love and respect her. The message was truly an oddity for Chas. He is one to alliterate all of his messages, while Hugh was a word-builder. That day, my Chas shared a message in Hugh-fashion...he built a word.
It was decided that we would express to Rhonda the desire to have her continue to work with the youth and come on staff as your youth minister. She did and moved onto to the field after graduation in December. She served with us until the following late spring/early summer. At that time, she left. Personally, I think she just simply needed to rest in Jesus' arms for a while and find who and what He wanted her to be.
Just a few short weeks after Rhonda left, this kid was brought to VBS by her dad. They had just moved to the area. They were neighbors of our friend & member, Debra. She invited them to come & bring their daughter, Regan to VBS. At the time, Debra and I were co-directors. It was our habit to pray each night with the workers before activities began. Before the end of the week, Darryl, Regan's dad, was joining us for prayer time. Oh, did I mention that Darryl had been a Youth Pastor and Missions Pastor? Yup, you guessed it. It was not long until they were regular visitors and we were extending a call to be Youth Pastor. We have had the awesome opportunity to serve with them since then. As God grew our relationship with Darryl and Karyn, He moved on their hearts to get a motorcycle. Can you see where this is going? Yes! We rode many rides together, spent a lot of time behind bars with them and they voiced a desire and calling to be a part of LAHBW! Well, at that point, Cliff and Diane had determined to ride the fence, no longer desiring to be attached to any one ministry and returned their colors. Doobie and Desiree' were busy with their kids, much as we had been for a little while, and were becoming inactive. At the time of this posting, Darryl and Karyn are an active part of LAHBW and Doobie and Desiree' have gotten rid of their bikes and will be turning their colors in until a later time, if the Lord so desires.
Also during our years at LRBC, we were able to finally see three Biker Sunday Services. We had patiently waited on the Lord. He had sent Darryl and Karyn and was slowly sending a few bikers. We never tried to make Logan Road a biker church. We only strived to make it possible for anyone who came to feel welcome. During that process, Chas preached a revival at a church several miles away. During that week, the Lord brought Bob and Elaine Culp into our lives. They were bikers and we gelled. The Culps began to attend LRBC and have been such a blessing to us. Other bikers who became a part of the LRBC family were Moe and Gloria McAda. We have been blessed by these families beyond belief.
Oh, one other event that was somewhat of a valley as well as a mountain top was the VBS at which I was bitten by a cottonmouth snake. I had picked up attendance and was conducting my normal evening walk-through. I opened the fellowship hall door and began to step out the door when my ankle on my right foot felt as if I had just been stung. Almost immediately, I experienced excruciating pain. I looked down and an obviously angry, aggressive adult cottonmouth had bitten me, not once, but twice. I yelled to the teenagers who were setting up for recreation to come kill it. I then limped around the building and entered the end door near our offices. I went in and shut my computer down, packed it up and walked to the fellowship hall to have them get Chas. Long story short here, but I was taken to the hospital, given eleven vials of anti-venom and spent 2 days in ICU. I had sever nerve damage and had to go to physical therapy for three weeks. Praise the Lord, VBS continued and I have almost full range of motion in the foot, with no loss of tissue.
I could sit here all night sharing mountain top experiences and valleys, but I will not do so tonight. Irony is that as of today, we have resigned. We have loved the Lord and the people of Logan Road Baptist Church. However, when a divisive spirit is allowed by two or three to attempt cause a rift in the body, sometimes the best action is simply to step back and turn them over to their desires. Having said that, it was and is our great love for the Lord and for the majority of the people at the church that Chas, along with Darryl tendered their resignations to a congregation of tearful (with the exception of 3) congregation who came to us asking, 'what will we do now?' As we step away form Logan Road, it is with anxious anticipation that we look to the future and all that our Great an d Mighty Lord has in store. In the words of StevenCurtis Chapman, 'We've got a trail to blaze through the wild blue yonder of God's amazing grace. (We're gonna) follow our leader into the glorious unknown.... AND we pray our Lord's blessings on those people who where so saddened today that they might know Him more and be drawn closer to Him.
Who are these bikers & why do they do what they do? The story of us....The Graceville years AND we finally Patch out!
So, as I stated in the last post, we had resigned from Shoal Creek and were college-bound. We spent the whole night on November 4, 1996 driving to our new hometown of Graceville, Florida. We got there just before daybreak and Chas got a day's sleep before beginning his job at Purdue Farms Poultry Processing Plant. We were thankful that Chas was able to have a job lined up before we arrived. Of course, the many trips we had made in the weeks leading up to that final trip was filled with finding affordable housing, moving possessions, getting a job lined up, etc. We were exhausted from the move and elated at the same time. We were going to begin college in the spring (term would begin in January). I worked trying to get unpacked and settled in and Chas worked nights. I spent many sleepless nights while he was at work. As we could squeeze enough money to do so, we would leave out on Friday morning when Chas got off work and book it back to Gainesville to be able to meet with our brothers and sisters in His Blood Warriors. During one of those first trips back, we were presented our colors. Man, talk about excited, we were! I honestly have to say that my family (parents, in particular) was not very pleased with our decision to pursue motorcycle ministry. They asked that we not wear our vests into their home, as they didn't 'agree'. It even came to a point prior to our moving to Graceville, that we rarely visited and my dad asked why and told me I was to honor him. I told him that I felt I was showing him greater honor by not visiting than to have an argument every time we visited. When we did visit, Chas would pull his leather vest off, fold it up, and lay it in a chair on their porch before entering their home. They eventually said little in opposition, but still opposed. They still opposed until one day when my dad called us to the table to sit down with him & his Bible....I thought, ok, here we go, gonna be another argument. To my dismay, my daddy opened his Bible to Romans chapter 10. He began to read, '14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" After he finished reading, he looked up from his Bible and said, "I don't really understand, but I do understand that everyone needs someone to go to them." Let me just say that I was about to bawl! In his own way, my dad was saying it was not their choice, but that he did understand that we had to do what the Lord had called us to do.
Now, back to Graceville. We enrolled in college and were somewhat a novelty on the little Baptist campus. With enough preacher boys and khaki to kill anyone allergic to khaki, we were there with leather and jeans. People constantly came up to us and said that they wished they could do what we were doing and that they wished they could go to people we were going to. Funny thing is that anyone can, just not everyone will. We simply told them that we all had a people group to go to, we just all had to find that group. We made many friends in Graceville and still cherish some of those friendships as we are blessed to be able to remain in touch with many of them now. We strived to be the best students possible. We were blessed to earn good grades and Chas even served as SGA class representative for a few terms and then as SGA President.
Early in our time in Graceville, we were in the mall in Dothan. Really, we were simply walking and looking, Lord knows we couldn't afford anything from the mall. When we walked out of a toy store, a couple was standing outside the store waiting on us. The guy stuck tracks in our faces and began to witness to us. At that time, we pulled tracks out of our pockets and told him we would like to share with him ;). Basically, they had seen us in leather and assumed that we were lost bikers needin' a savin'. When they found out that this was not the case, they invited us to church to worship with them. Their church was almost an hour from Graceville, but we went to visit. Much to our surprise, the congregation welcomed us warmly. We knew this was the congregation for us. A few weeks and visits to Logan Road Baptist later, we joined. At the time of this post, we are still members of that very church, but more of that story in another post. I will go ahead and state that that pastor resigned a few months later & Chas did some supply work there, was called as interim, then as pastor.
So, in our time in Graceville, we experienced many things, including the blessing of having a son who never complained that he did not always have the things he had once had. We also experienced a miscarriage and then another pregnancy and the birth of our second son. We love our sons very much and words can never express what they mean to us. Both of our boys are truly a blessing from the Lord. We love you David and Mike.
So, we packed four years of college into five and a half. During that time, as I stated, we had a miscarriage, a baby, I had a hysterectomy, and our baby had to have tubes put in his ears, along with tonsils & adenoids removed. While Mike was struggling with the issues that led to tubes and removal of tonsils and adenoids, I became ill with acute epstein barr virus. I still struggle with this (mono in adults) from time-to-time. Through all of this, the Lord never forsook us. He is ever faithful. We finally graduated in 2002. Chas graduated Magna Cum Laude and I graduated Cum Laude.
Also, while in Graceville, we had blessings upon blessings in so many ways. In addition to the blessings our sons were and are, and our grades/honors, we were blessed by friends who took us, wrote a check for a bike, put it on a trailer & said pay us as you can....thanks Bob & Angie! Also, on that same visit to Ga., Bob GAVE Chas an old Goldwing that he had ratted out. Chas aspired to get it going one day. Meanwhile, we both rode the 550 they had blessed us with. On one of my rides to Graceville from Ozark, I hit a dog and went about 50 feet up the pavement. I got back on the bike & rode the broken-up thing back to Ozark. At the time, I didn't know it, but I was pregnant with our Mike. What a blessing! Not only were we going to have a second child after trying for many years and not being able to, he survived a motorcycle accident (I found out the following week I was pregnant).
Ok, so we are feeling pretty blessed, as we should. But then, more blessing....we were going back to Ga. for the holidays and Herman (President at the time of HBW) called and asked Chas to bring a trailer up. He stated that he had a lot of old Goldwing parts and he wanted to give them to Chas for the bike Bob had given him that he had hoped to get running. Well, when we got to Herman & Susan's the whole gang was there. Seemed a little odd, especially because a couple of them were no longer actually members of HBW. But, hey, we were just excited to see our brothers and sisters and to spend a little time with them before heading back to G'ville. Herman asked Chas if he might put the Goldwing up on the trailer to see how she would tie-down because he thought he might start trailering her some. I thought this a bit odd since Herman had recently bought a Harley, but didn't question it. As Herman rode the bike up onto the trailer & got off, the whole gang gathered around...something was up. Herman got off the bike, reached into his pocket and pulled out a tag receipt. He handed it to Chas and said, 'Merry Christmas, I love you brother.' What? Had he just.....yes, he had just GIVEN Chas a bike! WOW! How exciting, how humbling, a flood of emotions an it is still indescribable. Chas still rides that bike. She is not pretty, she is old and needs some work, but he loves her and hopes one day to fully restore her. Oh, by the way, we named her Maybel.
So much occurred during those Graceville years, but I have spent enough time on them for now. In the next post, I will discuss the Logan Road years. Part of these years run simultaneously with the Graceville years, but extend beyond the Graceville years. Come back, read, and walk through the years with us to better help you understand who we are and where we came from.....
Well, as stated in the last post, we moved into the pastorium at the Creek about a week or so before Christmas. Early in service as supply there, we had taken the youth to a couple of concerts. Al Denson had been at Emmanuel College and David and the Giants had been in Elberton. The youth were totally in awe. They had NEVER been introduced to contemporary Christian music. Really, they had NO clue it existed. They loved it, but some of the older adults thought it to be heresy. Long story short here, I became the youth worker/teacher. We did the normal youth things like fundraisers, Shine On & Super WOW trips, concerts, etc. While in our first year there, Chas' grandfather succumb to cancer. This was especially difficult for Chas. That same year, we experienced a house fire due to faulty wiring in the wall behind the clothes dryer. We spent 3 weeks in a motel room and almost 3 months in a rental while the house received a make-over. In the next two years, we experienced highs and lows in ministry and life in general. Sometime in that second year, we received a phone call early one morning (before daybreak). Chas' only brother had shot a man and was on the run. We were obviously shaken and concerned. Chas' brother turned himself in later that day. Some time later, he went to trial and was convicted of manslaughter. Chas' brother had been the true biker in the family and while there were odd circumstances in their family, Chas & his brother had been close in the past. We came to the painful realization that when we 'cleaned up and became what the church folk told us we needed to look like,' we had lost several connections. One of those connections lost was the connect Chas had with his brother. We determined then and there to go back to what we had surrendered to: to go into the highways and hedges and compel people to come in. We needed to reach people by being who we were and are in Christ. We began to be burdened for bikers more and more. Then, a guy with whom I had gone to school with and had many classes with who was a biker to the bone began to cross our path regularly. Speaking of people crossing our path regularly, I neglected to tell you all about a friend, Angie. She had been a friend from high school and we had gone our separate ways. While we were at Carnesville Baptist, we began to see her time and time again. We never failed to invite her to church. We ALWAYS invited her to come to church with us.....what we were supposed to do, right? WRONG!!!! Let me explain. We always invited her, but never took the time to tell her of the difference Jesus had made in our lives and marriage. Big mistake......Why? You ask? Well one Monday morning, I went to work and my boss was talking about this horrible accident which had happened in South Carolina. I didn't think much of it. Later that morning, my boss came to my classroom and asked me to take a call from Chas in her office instead of the classroom. I did. What Chas had to tell me is that the horrible accident in South Carolina had claimed the life of our friend, Angie. I was shaken, but not as much as when I went to the visitation. She was almost unrecognizable. That night, when I closed my eyes, all I could see was Angie behind/in flames asking me why I had not told her about Jesus. What a sobering moment so-to-speak. I realized that it is not about inviting people to go to church or even going to church. It is about Jesus and the love He has for us and desires for us to have for others.
Now, that we have taken that little side-trip to visit Angie and my conviction there, back to Sammy, the biker in our path. You see, Sammy had been locked up, had come to know Jesus and had even been to Bible College. After all that, he & his wife divorced and he had lost custody of his sons. Every time we would see him, he would tell us how he felt like Job. He had lost his wife, sons, bla, bla, bla....Well, I always told him he sounded more like Jonah than Job. He was living the old life again and running from the Lord. As our paths crossed more and more, the Lord began to bring him to the Creek. We ended up doing many things with Sammy & new wife, Laura. Sammy & Chas spent a lot of time discussing going to bikers and maybe starting a Christian bike club. They even batted ideas around about what colors we might design. Then, on Father's day of 1996, David and I took Chas out to lunch in Toccoa. We ate at the Bamboo House. To our joy and amazement, there was a couple in there who, get this, had leather vests and Christian colors. More specifically, His Blood Warriors Colors. We exchanged information and chatted briefly. Later that week, we received a phone call from one of the other members in the group telling us we were welcome to visit them at the clubhouse for Friday night Bible study. We were so excited. We went and immediately, we knew this group of people was the group for us. We were just not sure if they felt the same way. We went to a few meetings and on a particular night, we were asked to leave before business meeting. We prayed all the way back home that night, not knowing what was going on, but sensing that there was an issue within the group. As with all groups, there was & the very couple who had been at the Bamboo House and our first encounter were leaving the group. We continued to meet with HBW and go to events with them. We attended July Jam for Jesus, a Fall Festival in Gainesville, and Feast of Trumpets Rally with them. We expressed interest in joining the group, shared our testimonies and waited the required time. In the midst of all of this, we planned a church run for Shoal Creek. That night, Sammy's bike broke down on the way to the church and he rode in on it in the back of a truck. Many people at the church boycotted the event, but we still had over 100 people present. One member present, was so pleased to have all three of her children in church for the first time in years!
Just a few weeks prior to the Church Run, we had been at Super WOW with the youth. Chas came to me after one of Ken Smith's messages and said, 'We need to talk.' He said that he didn't know how I would feel about what he was about to say, but he felt we needed to go to seminary. I simply opened my journal that I had taken notes in and showed him what I had written in the margin. It simply read, 'Look out seminary, here we come.' So, we talked to Ken and he suggested that we visit a little college in Graceville, FL, which was for ministers who had only gone to high school, been called into ministry and were a little older than most who enroll in college. We visited the school anticipating to visit many more schools before making a decision. We didn't need to visit any more, we knew immediately that this was the school for us. We struggled with telling those we served and loved. We had been conducting a weeknight Bible study at the house. While it had been open for anyone who wanted to attend, only two ladies chose to do so. We had done the Experiencing God, Mind of Christ, In His Presence, and When God Speaks with these ladies. We were near the end of the last one when Chas resigned. The ladies told us that they knew God was dealing with us and they would even leave our house and go down the road, stop & pray for us. Our last Sunday there was the last Sunday in October 1996. We went on a Church Run with HBW the following Sunday and met with those two ladies on Tuesday night to have the final Bible Study. One of them even picked up Chas' favorite meal for the night...the Varsity hotdogs. We drove all night to get to Graceville and Chas slept that day to be able to begin the night shift job he had gotten. Shoal Creek was a roller coaster ride for sure. We, again, have relationships with some from the Creek that we are ever grateful for and are blessed to remain in contact with. However, like most every place of service, some thanked God & Greyhound we were gone. The best things to come from the Creek were the relationships, which we still have and our introduction to HBW.
Next post: the Graceville years...We finally PATCH OUT WITH HIS BLOOD WARRIORS.
After surrendering to the call to serve the Lord, we kept doing exactly what we were doing. We stayed faithful to the Lord and to that little church....Carnesville Baptist Church. While there, I taught a children's Sunday School class and Chas taught the youth and at times, an adult class. The adult class was called the Alliance Class...we were incredibly blessed during those first years. We look fondly back at those years as some of the best of our lives. We loved each other in the class and the youth were, well, youth!!! They went through things all youth go through & we loved them all not because of anything they did, but in spite of all they did ;). One Sunday morning when we were leaving church, two of those youth, Grover & Craig, jumped on the back of the truck (we had a Toyota diesel w/no tailgate). They were sitting there bouncing their feet on the pavement singing the Flintstones' song. As we made the first couple stops & turns, they didn't get off & go back to their cars. Chas had just told me that he was gonna have to turn around and take them back when the unthinkable happened. Just as Chas looked up into the rear-view, Grover's tennis shoes grabbed the pavement and jerked him off the truck into the road. We stopped immediately & ran to him. As Chas turned him over in the road, he immediately went into a seizure. Chas turned to me & said, "Go get help." Well, I think I must have been a bit in shock, so I simply yelled, "HELP!" Of course, then Chas emphasized that I needed to GO GET HELP, so I jumped in the truck, strung it out & came around the curve at the church yelling for Tina, the resident nurse. Long story short, Grover had a hair-lined fracture and a blood clot. He had seizures all the way to Athens Regional (the ambulance decided to by-pass the local hospital due to severity of the injury). When we finished filling out police reports and got to the hospital, we were expecting Grover's parents to be poised to stone us. Instead, they allowed us to go into the ER to see him. Later, Grover's dad came to Chas & told him that he, in no way held him responsible, as 'boys will be boys.' Grover spent 2 days in Neuro-ICU. On the third day, I was at work & looked up to see Grover outside my classroom waving at me through the window! He had been released from the hospital and he had his mom bring him by to see me. I was so relieved and humbled. When Grover went back for his re-check, the doctor told him that 'medically speaking, (he) was very lucky.' Grover responded to the doctor that his God was a healer. How awesome is that? Yup, pretty awesome on SO MANY LEVELS.
We spent a total of three years at that little church just doing what we were doing: loving Jesus, loving the people in our lives and being loved by Him and them. That last summer (1993), we felt the Lord calling us to pursue a pastorate. Chas prepared a resume' and gave it to our Associational Director of Missions to critique. In the meanwhile, Chas had been share at a local church's Senior Adult group. That church's pastor resigned and Chas was asked to come and do some supply work. While all of this was going on, our DOM had given Chas' resume' to another church (um, he was supposed to critique' it). Anyway, that church called, wanted Chas to come and meet with them. They wanted to have him come in lieu of a call. So, here we are, dealing with two churches at the same time. What to do? What to do? Well, the church Chas had been supplying at wanted to extend a call & we felt if the Lord wanted us there, the vote would be as such. The vote was. We were officially serving at Shoal Creek Baptist in early December, 1993. Chas was ordained there and we move into the pastorium like a week and a half before Christmas.
In the next post, I will reflect on the Shoal Creek years. But, before I end the Carnesville Baptist Church years, I just want to say again that those were some of the best years of our lives in so many ways. We were blessed to have built relationships that have stood the test of time and geography. To all of you who were with us at Carnesville Baptist, we love you and are looking forward to seeing you all for the Youth Group Reunion you have planned for August. I still have all of your names listed in a Bible and pray for you all regularly. I am blessed to be able to have contact with so many of you via facebook. See you soon!
My name is Sonja. I am known as Road Rash, for obvious reasons. I have been a member of His Blood Warriors since 1996 I served as Secretary of LAHBW since the charter began in February 2002. In October, I became International Secretary and currently serve in that position.