“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry…” (I Timothy 1:12).
I was pastoring the First Baptist Church of Columbus, Mississippi. This was the zenith of our twelve-plus years in that wonderful old church located in the heart of “the Friendly City.”
Here is the background….
In the summer of 1979, we had flown over 70 of our people–adults and youth–to New Jersey where they spent two weeks in a church-building blitz as well as ministering in the community. My son Neil was 16 that summer and went along. He has never forgotten the experience of working alongside successful businessmen and women who rolled up their sleeves and worked like dogs and sweat like…uh, pigs?
The experience was so great for our church, we decided that since we needed a new building for our music ministry in Columbus, rather than contract it out as we might normally do, we could build it ourselves. The summer of 1981 would be highlighted by a two-week period in which we would ask our people to take their vacation from work and act just as if they were in New Jersey or somewhere, and help construct that three-story building. (Yes, we actually hired an on-the-scene construction supervisor, and paid to have the foundation poured and the steel girders erected. Some things you don’t want volunteers doing.)
Anyway, we decided we would raise the money for the project and not go in debt. Our target date for the money was March 1, 1981. Now, I want to share with you excerpts from my journal leading up to that. Every pastor in the audience will see in a heartbeat why this experience ranks as perhaps “the most fun” of all my years in the ministry….