Texts unexpectedly began to come in more frequently and with more urgency … “We need to meet before you leave.” “You must come at 5 pm.”
We’d packed our rig and stopped truck and trailer to visit Jesse the treasurer and confirm with him about a desired meeting with church leadership that was to take place after two February creation conferences (2017). He confirmed with me that a meeting with pastor and deacons was fine after we returned to NC.
However, something happened behind the scenes…still unknown to us…that changed things! Treasurer began frequent, fast, and furious texting me that I had to meet with them at 5 pm, a time after work when deacons said they could meet…never considering our schedule and the needs we had as for months we’d been planning two conferences, the first of which was that very week at Eastside Baptist in nearby Statesville, and the second one the following week at Tabernacle in Virginia Beach.
Though the first conference was only 30 minutes away from our home / home church, the desired meeting with officials would have had to be 30 minutes or less…for me to have time to get back to the conference to make sure of our setup, to have supper with the guest speaker, to make sure of plans, etc. Fact is, the impatience of the treasurer and anyone else behind the scenes demonstrated a complete lack of consideration for our ministry, for what we were doing that week, and for the purpose of the conference to promote foundational truth in NC and around the country! In short, this was a HUGE distraction from truth, not to mention the emotional distraction to us! As I was on the phone seeking counsel , I vividly recall my father-in-law saying, “You do not need to meet with them.”
Hearing that statement with stunned silence, it was a new thought and exactly what I needed to hear at that moment! I had been under a “cloud” of burden to help others see truth. I hadn’t been able to see the proverbial “forest for the trees” as for 8 years I tried to “build bridges” with Scott the new pastor, and with others who I didn’t realize had been bent on not receiving us, our work, or creation truth. For some time, I had the mistaken notion that since I’d known some of these folk for 20+ years–some since my days in high school there–that they were loyal friends. However, it was as John described of Diotrophes…
I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church (3 Jo vs. 9-10).
By nature, I am a people pleaser and don’t like to make waves. I don’t relish conflict, especially with other believers. But truth trumps relationships. The assertion from my father-in-law, who has had many years of ministry experience combined with occasions in dealing with cantankerous folks, was the key to me putting things into perspective for the conference. To a great degree, I was relieved to go forth “with power, with love, and with a sound mind” for the purpose of speaking forth truth during the conference. For the time being, the meeting would wait until after the second conference in VA and from there I would submit my responses in writing to church leadership of our home church in NC.
In the beginning of Creation Family Ministries at Tabernacle (NC), the pastor who married us there in 1993, Brother Phil Vos, had gone to be with the LORD in 2008. He was a true friend and a friend to anyone whether he agreed with them or not. He was truly a servant-hearted man who loved the LORD, who loved people, and who loved to preach God’s Word. He also was a “fix-it” man whom you might see somewhere around the school fixing a broken vacuum cleaner!
As over a few years we began to learn the importance of creation truth, Pastor Vos graciously allowed us to bring in our first creation speaker on a Sunday, Jim Gardner of Canopy Ministries in TN. However, a short video illustrating evil that Brother Gardner used in his presentation caused a bit of consternation as some church families with young children reacted to it. That reaction was instrumental in Brother Gardner reconsidering that video and later removing it from his presentation. But the damage had been done and Brother Vos was hesitant about having in any more creation speakers.
Over time, as Pastor Vos allowed us to conduct a monthly “creation fellowship,” eventually we were blessed to sponsor our first conference, Secrets of the Sea, which took place the night of his funeral after a months-long battle with leukemia. At that time, the leadership of Ambassador Baptist College professor, Dr. Joel Spencer, was truly helpful to the church, and we were encouraged as he excitedly promoted our first big event!
Within a year, Tabernacle chose Scott Hooks as pastor, a man who’d earned a business degree from the University of TN and who later was assistant for 8 years to Clarence Sexton at Temple Baptist / Crown College in Powell, TN. We later learned that this man came as a word-of-mouth referral by our friend Shane, a truck driver who frequently traveled between TN and NC and was a member of Temple Baptist. Being that the change to new leadership took place during the summer, we didn’t officially get to meet Brother Hooks until after we returned from our western trip that year (2009).
However, a bad situation that happened in UT that year resulted in a bad situation at home!
See part 2, “Payson Popery.”