February 2016 Mind of the Missionary

Congratulations to the University of Alabama football team on becoming National Champions. Thanks to all of those who are harvesting deer and thus making our roads safer. Thanks to those who responded to this column last month and are working on the theme of SERVE ON in our churches.

An idea for a theme for next year came to mind recently, and I want to share it with you. In 1817 the first settlers moved to Pickens County and the Gospel Light was planted here. So, in 2017 we will mark the bicentennial of the Gospel beginning to shine here. By 1822 churches were formed. Revivals and camp meetings were held. A mission to the Choctaw Indian tribe was opened. Efforts were made to evangelize the slaves. As communities and as towns were formed more churches were planted. Through the years more than 70 churches have been connected to our association.  Nearly 10,000 persons have been members of these churches. About 30 persons from these churches have served as foreign missionaries. Nearly 300 have been called into ministry and served congregations here in our country.  If the success of other denominations was added to this, the totals would triple or quadruple.

The light of the Gospel has shined here over these 200 years. So, let’s give thanks for the faithfulness of those who brought it here. Let’s give thanks for those who have been faithful to share and follow this light through the years. And let’s commit to double our efforts to keep it burning brightly in the years to come.

I believe that God has rewarded us for our faithfulness by bringing the Federal Prison here. And we have responded well. The Gospel light has been kindled there and burns brightly. As we reach the women there with the Gospel, as we teach and disciple them, as they return to their homes, many of them even to other countries, the light of the Gospel will be carried from here to many other places. How exciting is this?

My hope is that we will come up with projects and events that will share the light with everyone in our area, will help the light shine more brightly, will support our efforts to send the light to other places, and will give thanks for those who shared the light with us.

Thanks to the 50 or so board members who came to the meeting at Ladow. The vo-tech program is up and going. Impressive. Will be expanded with a new facility in Carrollton soon. To my mind this can really set the course for our county for the next few decades. It is not very likely that a major industry will come to our county. But industrial jobs are within easy commutes to the east and to the west. The widening of US 82 will improve access. If many of our youth get trained to hold these jobs, they will not need to move elsewhere for work.  And for people in our neighboring counties who want their children to be in good, smaller high schools and get well-trained for blue collar jobs, this will be a good option. This is happening in Hale County.

With our children being able to stay and others moving here, the future of our churches will be brighter. And the light of the Gospel will draw them.

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