Friday, December 21

advent 2007

You never know what someone else may find to be a spiritual encouragement. It does not always involve the entire church body, and sometimes it is the simplest act of thoughtfulness. Allow me to share with you three ways the pastors and congregation of First Baptist have arisen to become God’s “good will” to me personally.

Tom Austin was the source of one of those gifts of grace. It was my privilege to present an inspirational message to a meeting of the Savannah Baptist Association. I spoke about “Two Endangered Species” regarding two fundamental doctrines of Baptists. A few days following the address, Tom took the time to write a letter of thanks and appreciation for the message. What a wonderful, thoughtful encouragement to a young minister! I have never forgotten how important it is to let folks know they have provided a good and meaningful service.

A second gift of grace was provided by the congregation as a whole. Two major losses had occurred in my life. My wife of 22 years walked out of my life leaving me to raise three children. Also, the Southern Baptist Convention was no longer a comfortable place for me to practice my faith. Needless to say, I was grieving these two tremendous losses and seeking to find solace for my spirit. First Baptist Church was here to provide me a place to connect, to practice my faith with integrity, and to help heal my wounded spirit. It was around Advent of that year when I joined First Baptist as a member.

The final act of grace, provide by John Finley, Bill Roberts, and a few others, involved the recent “work day” at the church. As you know, a space was cleared and cleaned to allow me a spot to provide pastoral counseling for persons in need of this service. Again, God has blessed through the actions, commitment, and generous good will of all of the people of First Baptist Church. Thank God for each one of you! May the God of “Peace and Good Will” inspire you with the tympanum mysterious in this Advent season to even more meaningful acts of encouraging service.
– Will Barnes

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