(Photo credit Rhett Powell)
October was Pastor Appreciation month, and it was full of all kinds of affirmation for those in ministry, as people are good to tell their pastors and their church staff how their work and their service is meaningful. A pastor needs no affirmation apart from God and His presence… but it’s encouraging when the body of Christ reaches out and intentionally affirms their shepherd.
I could write a blog doing likewise, appreciating and affirming Wes and the work that he does (and I do love and appreciate him, most definitely!), but the greater sentiment around the parsonage these days is appreciation for where God has taken us and what He’s allowing us to be a part of now.
We’re so thankful that eleven years after leaving seminary, WE ARE STILL IN MINISTRY! This is not the reality for a good number of young men and women who leave the seminary enthusiastic about changing the world for Christ, and we count it as nothing but the grace of God that He allows us to continue to serve Him full-time in ministry, loving and encouraging and equipping the local church. It isn’t always easy, and there are hurts and trials along the way. But overwhelmingly the eternal gains of what we do as we answer God’s call are worth it. (And He uses the hurts and trials. Even the worst of it – He uses it all!)
We’re so thankful for the churches we’ve served in the past. We’re thankful for the friendships and the community of Central Baptist Church in Okinawa, Japan and how seriously they took the Word of God. I’m thankful for the older sisters there who walked with me when I was a new mom and who helped me to understand what biblical community looks like. We’re thankful for Western Heights Baptist Church in Duncan, Oklahoma and all the lessons we learned about ministry in an established church. I’m thankful for those who loved our girls so well and enjoyed those toddler and preschool years with us. We’re thankful for the other young pastors in the community who partnered together so that many small churches worked as one to do big things in missions. We’re thankful for Memorial Baptist Church of Pasadena, Texas, a church that we loved with everything we had. I’m thankful for the opportunities that we had to walk with people as they went through hard seasons, and I’m thankful for all the laughter and tears experienced with my group of older sisters every week in Bible study. We’re thankful for the gift that Wes was given as he learned what it means to be a shepherd, carrying the burdens and the responsibilities of a church and its staff, putting himself last and seeking the best of the body along the way.
We’re so thankful for First Baptist Church of Vidalia, Louisiana. We’re thankful for friendships here, with believers of all ages, from all backgrounds, and all different faith walks. We’re thankful that there’s anticipation and excitement regarding the Word of God. We’re thankful that everyone is welcome at this church. We’re thankful that faith is not without works here, that the church is actively involved in missions, both local and abroad. We’re thankful for the opportunities we get to serve in several different capacities and that Wes is able to be a pastor for the community, not just the church. We’re thankful for a staff that works well together and that includes spouses who love the church and joyfully serve as well. We’re thankful that Wes enjoys a friendship with one of FBCV’s former pastors who is now a member of the church. We’re thankful that our children are loved here and that they’re free to be who they are as believers, not just as the pastor’s children. We’re thankful that we’ve felt welcome from our very first day here and that we’re a part of a community that we love.
And most of all, we’re thankful that God is who He says He is in Scripture, that He has been with us as we’ve walked this ministry road, and that He does His work of convicting us, refining us, and changing us as we continue to serve Him.
So, so thankful!