"...and how shall they hear without a preacher?"

by Jim Allen
(Monroe, Ohio)

I wish to share a letter that I sent to my pastor in the hope that it will encourage you. I am not a pastor. God has not called me to that profession although I cannot think of a more higher calling to have. I teach Sunday school and I have referred to my class often as Berian believers. I believe God has given me the gift of teaching and I will continue to follow His leading for as long as He will allow. We call our class "Legacy". It consists mostly of retired members who love their Lord and His word. Some in our church refer to us as "Seasoned Saints" but we just call ourselves the old folks. I dare not stand in front of this class without truly knowing that my teaching is 100% in line with God's word. They won't stand for it and I pray that what I present is nothing less or more than what God has given us in His word. This world is filled with belivers that love their pastors and want nothing more than the very best for them and their families. Please don't be discouraged with those that don't show you this love. We need you. God needs you. Your names and addresses are too vague to send direct responses. I hope I am not overstepping with this information but I know that my pastor would love to pray with you and if he cannot help your particular circumstance he can direct you to others that can and have helped us. Grace Baptist Church in Mason, Ohio. Please call. Here's the letter I sent:

Bro. Jerry,

I am sending this message with prayer that God will give me the right words to convey what is on my heart and that you will receive them in the loving spirit that they are written. Does that sound scary? Try sitting on this side of the keyboard.

Sunday was an exceptional service. Extremely convicting and God honoring. It was very heart warming to have an invitation. It's been a long time and I always considered an altar call as part of a service that was but an extension of the message. Before I get too far with this and possibly step on your toes, or what's left of them, consider these words the rambling of an old man that loves his pastor and hurts when he shows discouragement.

Shall we take a stroll down memory lane? In 1986 I remember a young man coming to my door and inviting me to his church. At that time I suppose I would be considered as sitting in the second chair. (See. I was listening.) Was I saved? Yes but God was not the most important thing in my life. Life was. Mary Jane and I came to Grace to witness Phil's baptism and we liked what we saw. Later in that same year you and Charlene came to our house and led her and Shawn to the Lord. I can remember that day as if it was yesterday and tears come to my eyes whenever I think of it. It is through the ministry of Grace that Lisa and Jimmy also came to know Jesus along with several of our grandchildren. Ours is only one of many families that your leadership and commitment to our Lord has touched and changed.

It is a long way from the Grange hall to what Grace is today and this journey is but a reflection of a young man's and his wife's commitment to God's leading that is an outstanding witness to the community and to many other ministries around the world. There were times that bills were in jeopardy of being covered and yet your love for missions and your leadership led Grace to be a missions minded church. I know that it is by God's grace that all of these things took place but He put you in charge to lead and you have done so admirably and faithfully. I hope you will share this with Charlene as I am certain she will substantiate some of the points that are contained here.

Let's move on. By faith we took on missionaries. By faith we stepped out to build our own sanctuary. You know quite well that it was only by God's intervention and protection that no one was injured during that phase and what is present today is a light to the world that proclaims His word (without reservation) and is a tribute to His glory.

Where are your children, Jerry? Serving the Lord and being an inspiration to us all. Why? Because of their father and mother's love and obedience to their Lord. Where is the heart of your church? Look at the list of missionaries that are supported. Look at the Tyndale classes that are going on. Look at the dedication of your Sunday school teachers. Look at the love that is shown for those members that need help. The love for God and for His word is but a reflection of your love and your leadership. I wish that my children were serving Him as yours are but I can not make a commitment in their hearts for them as you cannot make a commitment in the hearts of your congregation. Only God can cause that to happen and we as parents and as leaders of the church must continue to show a loving and heart felt example of our commitment to Him.

One more point and I'll let you get back to your studies. I have been a Christian for 55 years but the first half of that time I was not committed to Lord. I never doubted that I was saved but I did not see the importance of serving Him with all of my heart. I was seated in the second chair. For most of the second half I was seated in the first chair but leaned all too often toward the second. Now I am not seated at all but am on my knees in front of the first chair. My time on this earth is growing short much too quickly and all I want now is to share the good news of our Lord. God has given me a gift and through Grace an opportunity to use it. Your leadership has made this possible. If the Lord is leading you to another ministry then I will say AMEN but with a heavy heart to lose a dear friend but please do not allow feelings to influence a decision. Listen to Charlene. Listen to your sons-in-law. Listen to your children. They all have hearts for the Lord, a love for you, and there council is priceless.

So. I hope this has not been a discouragement. It is not meant to be. I lied. I have one more thing to share. My job is beginning to get in the way of my studies and I am a bit concerned. I can't afford not to work. I guess I still have a ways to go in putting my complete faith in the Lord's leading. Pray for me.

Sent With Prayer, (Letter's end)

I have read many of the postings that are presented here and I am so sorrowful for you. I am only a layman and have not had the privilege of attending a bible college. I have been under the teaching of a very gifted pastor and our church has several talented teachers who have taught me much. This coupled with my personal studies have resulted in my current knowledge of scripture and it never ceases to amaze me how God continues to open my eyes to new truths each day. I have, however, noticed that all of the postings I read can be found in scripture as pertaining to churches and the sufferings that you have undergone. Paul's writings cover many and John's in Revelation. You have had the advantage of college professors and their teachings to fall back on but you may find the true teacher, the Holy Spirit, has some new truths to reveal to you in the scriptures. God's word is not a history book. It is alive and just as relevant today as it was at the time it was penned. I don't presume to understand what you have gone through with rejection of those you have been led to pastor. I can only relate by comparing the rejection that I have faced with family and friends. I cannot change a person's heart. Only God can do that. I cannot force someone to accept God's gift of salvation. Some plant, some water but it is only God that gives the increase. My prayers are with you.

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