I'm not exactly sure what the difference is between the concepts of "church revitalization" and "church replant". Both begin with an existing group of "called out ones" who are seeking to be obedient to the Great Commission. Both begin with a church location: large, small, new, or old. Both are a lot of work for everyone involved, require tremendous sacrifices, and have the same end results.
We are not sure when the last baptisms took place at the "old church", Eastside Baptist Church. I've heard its been as as long as three years, its been a while. Many records have been lost; the church roll vanished and is being built. So I'm not sure when the congregation experienced the last baptism. Regardless....Today we baptized three people as a brand new church, Oasis at Conway Gardens.
Samuel George is a young man being homeschooled by his parents, they have done an amazing job raising him and teaching him the ways of Christ. He was so excited to be baptized. Carol Krasinski is a senior adult, she has been growing in her faith over recent months. She expressed her desire to be baptized because she was a growing disciple. Her step of obedience meant so much to her as she understood the biblical importance of Scriptural Baptism as a believer.
Sarah was baptized too, on her 16th birthday. Obviously, she's known the Lord as her Savior, she has a strong walk with Jesus. Her ministry is blossoming as she lives her faith before her high school friends. She had five friends with her at church today. Each one at a different stage in their journey getting to know Christ as Sarah prays for them and shares the Good News. Our Sarah is growing up, she is unapologetic about her faith in Christ even as she embraces friends from all walks of life on her HS campus. She is a great missionary with a huge heart of compassion for those who need Jesus.
Tomorrow is Monday, a new day. There is much more to do to the church facilities along with much planning and preparation for the Grand Opening of Oasis at Conway Gardens on October 2nd. We host the Chris Tomlin's Worship Night in America on October 25th. Then we will provide a community Fall Festival on October 30th! I better get back to work.
Saturday, August 27, 2016
Thursday morning about 1am I received a call that one of our long-standing members died in his home. He had not been out of the house to attend church since I became pastor due to his illness. However, his wife Jo was a faith member and participant at the church. She's a short sweet white haired lady from North Carolina who is a bundle of love and grace. She carried her burden for her husband so graciously. When asked how Ron was doing, she always had an honest positive report of God's faithfulness.
I've have had the front row to a beautiful ministry over recent months. For some reason Jo was drawn to Errin (my wife), these ladies would greet each other often and chat up a storm. Jo has always been on Errin's heart, often reminding us to pray for her and Ron, wanting to go by the house and check on her and Ron. I love watching my wife care for others with such beauty. To watch Jo and Errin, two gracious southern women, walk through the deep waters of Jo's needs has been a beautiful sight.
Thursday morning's early call about Ron's passing immediately called Errin to first alert. I tried to let her sleep and get out of the house without her so she could be rested for the heavy workday ahead of her. But this was Jo and in just a few short moments Errin would be waiting for me in the car so she could hold the hand of her dear southern friend.
Maybe I'm just a proud husband who loves to watch his wife serve the Lord and love people. But I think it goes deeper than that. I see Jo, a loving gracious lady in a time of need. A woman who handles difficulty in a way that reflects a godly woman. And I see Errin, who loves to love people. Pouring herself out to care for others. Often willing to sacrifice far more than a good nights rest to meet the needs of others.I see the heart, hands and feet of Jesus.
Jo you are in my prayers as we celebrate your 60 years of marriage to Ron and his home going.
Baby, you are an incredible helpmate, wife, and co-laborer. I love watching God use you in so many ways. You have such a special touch with people and a heart filled with compassion. I know what you're thinking......To God Be The Glory!
Friday, August 19, 2016
Had an awesome experience last spring, it was challenging and eye-opening, but still a huge blessing. I taught on a private school campus that was heavily populated with students from many walks of life. Many, if not most, were Hispanic ,others were AA, Caribbean, and more. I was usually the only Anglo in the classroom.
I wasn't much of a teacher, I gave it my best effort in Economics, World History, and American History. What I did well, I also loved doing and miss it tremendously and that is loving the students. Finding ways to encourage them and help them find purpose and vision for their lives. I assisted them in finding ways to adjust an attitude or behavior. Helping boys understand what a godly man is like and helping girls desire not to settle with a guy just so they will be liked.They were open to having spiritual conversation about Christ, eternal significance and so much more.
Today I was reminded again by my sweet wife that kids need leaders, not lawgivers though rules help us create healthy environments. Those kids saw way past my white skin and saw my heart filled with compassion for them. I think genuine Christ-centered love and compassion blinds us from seeing ethnicity. Be a shepherd, love those you lead.
Friday, August 5, 2016
The Pokémon phenomenon, it's unbelievable. We have turned ourselves into digital Zombies spending a ton of time on something that matters so little. I was at the UCF campus last weekend and I saw the this crowd of people wondering in every direction starring down at their phone. It was bizarre and a bit creepy, looking like mindless zombies.
It seems like almost all of us have gotten into this new craze. I confess my family has participated in the P-mon activity. We've been doing it as a family. Honestly, it's been fun. Admittedly, I'm getting left behind while on level 14 since I'm the driver for my family of digital slayers.
Culture is interesting isn't it? I hear there is something even bigger, better and more mesmerizing just around the corner....Harry Potter!!!
Friday, July 22, 2016
Had to be away for a few days this week. Returned home late last night with the entire family to find the house at 90 degrees. The a/c unit went out and the house was a sauna! So what do we do? Just roll with the circumstances life provides.
ERRIN and I just finished a conversation how nice it will be to be home and in our bed. The kids were ready as well. As we made our 11:30pm arrival at the house we opened the door to the new Hessinger Sauna. So how does my wife handle the situation? She tells the kids to pull out dirty laundry from the luggage, she handles our bags, and grabs some drinks for the kids all while on the phone to set up a reservation for a hotel. Unfortunately, I could get the a/c unit fixed.
The family responded just as I would hope. Even after a very long and tiring day on the road. We demonstrate who we are during surprisingly difficult situations. Last night Team Hessinger knocked it out of the park!!!
Monday, July 11, 2016
Errin and I just spent a week at youth camp. I'm used to creating, leading and speaking at big camps. A camp with 700-900 student is routine for me. Last week's camp had 60 students. It was one of the most most Spirit-filled, life-changing weeks I've experienced in over 30 years of ministry.
The recreation was crazy, fun, and drew the students together in unity as they were challenged to work together. The group Bible Studies addressed some of the hottest topics we are dealing with in our culture. The huddle times allowed young people to openly discuss what they were learning in a biblical environment with loving adults.
The worship services were powerful. The entire group turned their voices and praise loose! I've not been around much passionate worship as we experienced throughout the week. My invitations were simple yet demanding and students responded throughout the week. In all 19 students came to faith in Christ. Others renewed their commitment to the Lord while other went deeper by committing to be far more missional in their journey. What a great week. It's Monday and I'm ready to go again!