This is the first in a series of special postings I will be doing that will be relating my experiences as the bi-vocational Pastor’s Assistant and Youth Leader at New Life Baptist Church in Gladstone, Missouri to my hobby of rail-fanning.
Have your ticket ready and we’ll get this ride started.
So here’s the deal. About two years ago, I felt God prompting me to call my best friend, a 1990’s graduate of Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri and who had been out of ministry for nearly 15 years, after various pastoral positions around the country that didn’t go well for him left him gun-shy about ministry, and driving an over the road truck, with a challenge.
We talked nearly every day by phone, but had lived nearly three hours apart, with me in Kansas City, he in Pratt, Kansas and hadn’t seen each other in what felt like forever.
I first sought the advice of his father, as he and his wife had practically raised me, and always treated me like a member of their own family, that I also just call “Mom & Dad. They also live just seconds away, across the highway from me.
I called to say he either needed to get a job that would simply have him home with his family more, or get back into ministry….preferably the latter. I thought my having been stuck working 3pn-11pm for years (that now has me job searching) was tough, but not like his being gone for weeks at a time.
He definitely wanted to be home more, but still didn’t know about a return to ministry, but would not discourage me or his folks from praying for God’s will one way or the other.
Through a series of events, I got a call about 10 months ago, stating his church in Pratt and the Southern Baptist Convention were sending him back home to Kansas City, to start the first of what they hoped would be several new churches. God had already confirmed since the day of my initial phone call to him, that when (not if…) this happened, I was to join him in this endeavor. I was all in! It’s how I roll: either 110 % in, or not at all.
A tip from a buddy here in town led to getting us a free place to meet, and on 5/24/15, New Life Baptist Church (realistically a launch team for what will eventually be the full fledged real deal) was born in our current home in the basement of a bank building in Gladstone, Missouri.
Mom & Dad joined the effort from the start, which is a true blessing, and this born again rail-fan was later officially named Pastor’s Assistant, which has me wearing many constantly changing hats, including taking over a later vacated position of leading our youth, a calling I have felt since as long as he was out of ministry, but this is the first time anyone has given me a real shot at it.
For now, we both work other jobs in addition to the ministry. That, and other things, can sometimes feel like one of the freight trains I am so fond of watching, and taking photos and video of like the east-bound Norfolk Southern auto rack manifest in North Kansas City, Missouri pictured above, has just run over our hearts. But, as he likes to say, we have to “pick up our lip, and move on”, so we don’t project the hard times onto those we are responsible to God to faithfully, courageously lead, and encourage. No one said ministry, like rail-fanning was easy.
That is, when we are not rejoicing in victories like our first two salvation decisions and one re-dedication, all in the last two weeks, as fruit of you guessed it… the youth ministry! Those have come just as we are beginning a new focus here in 2016 on evangelism, discipleship and missions.
So it appears that our signals have started coming up green as of late, and we can really notch up, blast the air horn and get up to track speed with this new focus as far down the line as God sees fit!
On the New Life Baptist Line, we keep focused on the fact that God is Good all the time, and all the time….God is Good! And you can take that ticket to the bank!
Well, until next time, I’m John Losh, reminding you to keep Jesus as your engineer, as you leave spiritual Legacies…On The Rails!!!