Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pleasant Grove Baptist Church

This past weekend I had the distinct pleasure of traveling to the small community known as Herring to attend a church service in a building that has been around for over 100 years. In some parts of the world, that isn't so old, but in the United States, there isn't a whole lot that stands the test of time.

So Sunday morning, Jamie and I traveled over hill and dale until we reached this little church. Currently it is being led by some old friends, Mike and Jan Harriman, and on this particular Sunday, their son (and my former roommate) Luke Harriman was in town and he gave the message. Luke is an excellent teacher, and did a great job using an example to which the community could relate (building a bathroom for the church) to draw a comparison to a spiritual truth. During the message, Luke used the terminology of construction and laying a foundation to ask the question of each one of us--"On what foundation are we building our lives?" He then proceeded to explain to us why Jesus Christ is the best foundation on which to build a life. During the entire time, he referred us back to the Bible and what it has to say about foundations and building, and what makes for a solid foundation.

As I sat there listening to the message, I began to reminisce about other times when I would hear Luke share thoughts during the time we were roommates. I found myself reflecting on how we have each grown, and how we are using our time, talents, and resources to make a contribution to this world, to our communities, to our families, and to the one's we love most dearly. Luke stood before the congregation as a teacher, a husband, and a father, and from what I could see he's doing a great job with all three.

But as much as I could remark on Luke, I have to really focus this little post on the people of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. As one of the parishioners remarked after the time of worship, "There's no longer a grove. Only two tree's remain from the many that once stood on this hill." I couldn't help but think that maybe the grove itself mirrored the slow trimming of the size of the congregation, that only a few members still remained, and yet there was still time to plant and sow and let God cause the growth of a new grove as well as a growing congregation. This work takes time and effort though. It seems like in a world of fast-food and text messaging, it is easy to lose sight of the very real time it takes to build something to last.

The thing that impressed me most about this congregation was their passion to persevere and their passion for growth as a community. Right now they have a couple of outhouses for bathrooms, but that is changing. It takes effort to change, to build a bathroom, and to build on a solid foundation with our lives, but these folks are committed. And stories of their faith and perseverance are being told by folks in Kenya and California and parts in between.

Luke read this passage from Paul's letter to the church at Thessalonica before his message. "We ought always to give thanks to God for you brothers as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly; and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore, we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions you are enduring."

I'd like for you to remember the people in the little country church in Herring, WV, and I'd like for you to remember that whatever it is that you may be pursuing with your life, build on a solid foundation, take your time, and do the work well. We can get in such a rush for results that we fail to build a solid foundation--to my chagrin, I can think of many occasions that this has been true in my life.

May you build a solid foundation and may the good work you are investing in reap much fruit in your own life and beyond.


LaurenB said...

Reading about this church leaves me feeling nostalgic and encouraged! Thanks for sharing.

Charles Michael said...

thanks, billy for all your support. you and jamie come back anytime! it was nice of you to write these kind words about our church.

love, m. and j.