I have not preached the last two Sundays, after not missing more than one Sunday in twenty five years. The small church we attend now asked me to sit in on the youth session last night. Then the youth minister asked me to teach on the subject of prayer from Matthew 6.
He asked me on the spot.
You have to see this little church. It is white clapboard. The sanctuary holds about 60 people, maximum, and they had 75 or so our first Sunday. Larry Atchley is the pastor, a seminary trained, bivocational pastor who owns his own business to support his work. Two Sundays ago he baptized six people, last Sunday he baptized nine. There are two more needing baptism, so he will take care of that in the next weeks.
They employ a bus ministry, for the area around them is an unincorporated township, trailer houses and poor people. My youth crowd last night was eight high schoolers; six hispanic, one African-American and one anglo. The congregation is almost all hispanic. At the appointed times, people just start to appear from out of nowhere. The church feeds some, houses others, preaches to all. It is really funny; there are so many souls out in the area to reach, but none of the new churches in town have felt led to locate out with the poor people. The only competition is with the Devil. Amazing.
The pastor has been there six years and mostly supports the church through his tithe. He has a B.A. from ETBU and an M.Div. from SWTBS. His wife, who teaches the poor children without taking them apart from the church, has a B.A. and an M.Ed. and brings her two children to the church. The Youth Minister has a B.A. and a M.A., an LPC and is working on his PH.D. in counseling. His wife already has three degrees. They support the church with their tithe.
The average person who attends is younger than 40, hispanic, working hard to get up the ladder in American society. The youth group talk last night was about a boy who was shot, another who was beaten up and another who was kicked out. The little church takes in all of them.
“The Lord must love poor people,” Lincoln said, “because He made so many of them.”
The high school girls talk about college. The boys talk about jobs they hope to get. None of them have cars to support.
My heart cries.
And this over-educated staff never has to change its music, or entertain someone or cater to some cutesy people who are just too simple to get it. The Bible Study last night was Bible study for children and youth. Their parents are still at work because the sun is not yet down when we finish. The boys now have men in front of them who have stayed in school, loved God and preached the Jesus to them. I got fifteen minutes with them last night and quit on time. The kids thanked me for being there with them and asked me to come again and teach. I had to hide my tears.
A couple of the boys hugged me. Two of the girls shook my hand and talked about their college hopes.
My friend and hero Harry Lucenay, a real prophet, went to China to do ministry and stayed. He had large American churches for awhile but he said, “I got tired of arguing with people about who had the biggest boat in the mud puddle.” He and his lovely, precious wife are winning hundreds to Christ in Asia.
Stop arguing over who has the biggest boat in the mud puddle. Stop listening to some angry church member tell you you are over his head. Jesus was over the head of all he touched, as were Paul and Peter. Just tell the story with the words God puts in your mouth and remember you perform before an audience of One, no matter how many people sit in front of you.
Joan and I now unashamedly give financially to Freedom Community Church at 5361 Buffalo Street in Midlothian, Texas 76065. I am happy to say it. We invite you to support this small, small, poor church with financial gifts. Do not send your tithe to this church unless you come here and get involved. Send sacrificial gifts, as Joan and I do.
The church has spent its benevolence budget helping some families this first quarter. They have no money left in the budget for the year. We replenished that last night and I do not care who knows. I prefer my way of doing it with the way others do not do it.
Freedom Community Church
5361 Buffalo Street
Midlothian, TX 76065
Drop by on Sunday. Pray for the little church. Make a sacrificial gift for God’s work among those who are materially poor.