The most difficult part of moving from a place you love is that it is nearly impossible to put into words what someone – somewhere – means to you. This is certainly my experience with the family called Faith Baptist.
Twelve years ago this August I started my studies at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN. This in and of itself was rather shocking since I had never really been known as a strong academic. But I had (and have) a strong commitment to gain head knowledge to match my heart passion. Passion without sound doctrine can be a loose cannon – doing more harm than good. Being the good first-year student that I hoped to be, I had already planned ahead to know exactly which four classes I would take my first year. So when the time came to meet with the registrar, I was thrown a curve when she told me, “History of Christianity is full – pick another class.” After about eight seconds of prayer and fasting, I chose “Pastoral Ministries” with Dr. Danny Sinquefield. Little did I know, in God’s sovereignty I would be allowed to take a third-year class as a first-year student. This one fork in the road, changed the trajectory of quite possibly my entire life.
Over the next several weeks I grew to admire Dr. Sinquefield, professor. It was not long after I began attending Faith Baptist, where he pastored. A week or so after that, he invited me to join the staff of Faith as a College Ministry intern. The rest, as they say, is history. Twelve years later, I’m the intern who never left!
Approximately 562 Sundays later – Sunday June 23 – was my last Sunday on staff at Faith Baptist. There is no possible way to describe the incredible feeling I have whenever I consider all the love and memories I’ve experienced through the years. Perhaps the best picture I can paint is one of horticulture, like the pictures Jesus often painted in His teachings. Faith Baptist Church has been the incredibly fertile soil in which God planted me as a young, wide-eyed minister. With great nurture and care, God has used Faith Baptist to deepen my roots and truly blossom into who it is God has created me to be. This has happened primarily by way of love, discipline, opportunity, compassion, freedom – all the things necessary to lead and guide a person toward maturity in Christ. It is not lost on me some churches, sadly, are not willing to be that healthy, fertile soil for young men in leadership. For this reason, my heart is bursting with gratitude for God’s people.
Bro. Danny has been used by God as a “vinedresser” figure in my life. He has challenged me to grow, led me to change, and counseled me in the ways of spiritual discipline. He has given me the gift of opportunity and blessed me by believing in me – often when I didn’t believe in myself. I will never be able to repay the time, effort, and resources “Doc” has given me; nor will I ever forget these gifts. Instead, as he would want, I stay ever-committed to giving away those gifts he’s instilled in me to others – sharing his legacy of Christ-like love to whomever God brings along my path.
Becca and I cried, smiled, and laughed as we read through dozens of hand-written notes from our church family. As well as being emotionally thoughtful, our church family is financially kind. It is this combination of generosity that leaves us overwhelmed. It is this combination of generosity that God uses to fulfill Acts 1:8. We simply cannot say enough about this church family and how much each and every person means to us.
My hope, is that if you are reading this you will feel the same fondness towards both Christ Jesus and His bride called Faith Baptist. But also, my hope would be that you are motivated to seek-out this kind of community, if you don’t have a church home. There is no replacement for time spent growing in faith amongst a body of believers. For us, our time at Faith Baptist has not been about being on staff or about being members of a church. Faith Baptist has truly been a place where friends become family. Becca, the boys, and I will forever be blessed because we have been loved by Faith.