Thursday, October 27, 2011

I've Been To CHURCH Tonight!

I was one of three Caucasian faces in the crowd at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Ashland, KY tonight. I felt right at home as I attended night four of their Fall Revival Meeting. Several long time friends greeted me at the door, and the old memories came flooding back from years gone by. Man! Do I feel like I've been to church!

(This photo was not taken at New Hope tonight, but I can tell you that it depicts much of what the service there was like.)

Last Friday night, I ran into New Hope's Deacon James Thomas at the Ashland Tomcat Football Game at Putnam Stadium. I hadn't seen Brother Thomas in some time, and after exchanging pleasantries for a few minutes, he said, "We're going to be in revival down at the church next week. You ought to come join us", he said with his usual smile.

"I'd love to worship with you folks again" I told him. "Who's preaching?"

When he told me it would be Pastor Mosley's son in law, Rev. David Peoples, I promised him I would do my best to attend. I had heard this young man before, and I really looked forward to hearing him preach again.

Circumstances and other ministry responsibilities kept me from being able to attend until tonight. I was very tired this evening after a long day of work, and was running low on time, but was able to grab a bite to eat at home, change clothes, and make it to New Hope with five minutes to spare. I was tempted to stay home and rest, but I am glad I made the effort to go.

The service was tremendous!

I have many old friends at New Hope, as we had several joint services and fellowship revivals with them (and nearby Central Baptist) back in the late 90's when I was pastor at Ashland Baptist Church. Pastor Henry Mosley and I built a strong personal relationship with one another and we even traveled on our first short term mission trip to the Philippines together in February of 2000. We were able to work together from time to time, until I was called away to Westmoreland Baptist Church in December of 2002.

We've stayed in touch over the years, and I have even had the New Hope Choir sing for us at Westmoreland, and had Bro. Mosley preach for us. Even though our paths hadn't crossed in a while, we always remember one another in prayer and feel the warmth of the relationship God kindled in us many years ago.

I enjoyed watching the church family come together for worship tonight. It is always a blessing to see the worshippers smiling, exchanging handshakes and hugs, and just genuinely enjoying being there.

There were visitors there tonight from Pastor Peoples Church in Paris, KY and from his former pastorate in Ironton, OH. Bro. Peoples is married to the daughter of Pastor Mosley, and the whole service was just a big homecoming.

The Deacons all sat on the front row, left side. Four visiting pastors, including myself, were asked to come sit on the platform, with Pastor Mosley and Evangelist Peoples.

The piano and drums were loud, the Spirit was moving, and the worship was exuberant. Those people came to have church, and did they have it tonight!

David Peoples (pictured here) preached from Ephesians 5:20 "Now unto Him who can do exceeding, abundantly above all we can ask or think, according to the power that works in us." His message was entitled "Great Expectations" and as the old timers use to say, he really shelled the corn!

The service was lengthy, compared to what many of us are accustomed to, but no one seemed to notice the time. In fact, I didn't see a clock on the wall anywhere in the building. Now THAT is my kind of church.

I never felt out of place there (never have) and it was easy to get into the lively music, and to "scotch" for the preacher as he worked his way into a rhythmic cadence, often bringing the crowd to its feet with applause.

We could sure use some of that spirit and exuberance in many other churches today.

I'm glad I visited New Hope tonight, and got a little taste of Heaven, right there on Carter Avenue.

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