With this post I hope to share with you our burden for Newport as well as some of the blessings and obstacles we face. I may have mentioned before; but I don't remember, how we came about being in Newport. Here it is again in a nutshell.
We were contently serving the Lord at Bethel Baptist Church in Wilson, NC as assistant pastor and wife when we received a message from our pastor about a phone call from Arkansas. A couple, the Parkers, had started a church in Newport about three years before; but now believed the Lord wanted them to go to Alabama and start a church in Bro. Burt's home town. (This was his original burden; but his paster - Pastor Patterson of Jacksonville Baptist Temple - needed a man to fill the pulpit in Newport where souls had been led to the Lord; but there was no good Bible preaching church for them to attend, so the Parkers filled the gap. For three years they drove an hour and a half each way for every service and ministered to these people.) We returned the call and prayed about the move for thirty days. The Lord confirmed that Newport was the place for us in several ways; so we packed our belongings (all that would fit in our van and a small trailer) and headed for Arkansas. You can read more about that "adventure" here.
Now that we have been living in Newport, I can officially say...the honeymoon is over. PLEASE don't misunderstand. I love serving the Lord with my husband. I wouldn't trade being here for the world; but reality has set in. (I am sure those of you who are missionaries or pastors wives especially understand what I am saying.) When we first arrived, everything was new and exciting - even camping out in the church on the weekends; but now (for starters) I am ready to move into a home. We decided to move into the church to save time, money, energy, and to allow us to go visiting and soulwinning on a regular basis. I have been praying fervently for this since I found out I was expecting. Would you join me?
Also, as we have been knocking doors in Newport and Diaz (a SMALL neighboring town), we noticed that there are at least eight government housing editions in Newport alone; plus there are a lot of HUD homes in this area as well. What this means is that there are a lot of people in Newport (population 8,700+) who depend on the government for their housing, food, medical attention, etc. Normally in places like so, these people have a mentality that go along with that lifestyle. They often feel that everyone "owes" them something. We have experienced this first hand. Many have discovered that we are the "new church on the block" (which will soon be changing because two churches are being erected (one Church of Christ and one non-denominational) AND we live in the church; so they "visit" us often (and not on Sunday or Thursday) asking us for diapers, food, milk, formula, gas money, in one case - housing (read all about that here.) ect. We do what we can; but we try to look at this as an opportunity to share the gospel and invite them to church. We have had some takers and one couple has actually been visiting quite frequently. Praise the Lord that as of last week Friday, we have knocked every door in Newport and Diaz. Now we are going back for round two as well as following up on those who seemed interested; but may need a little nudge.
Another thing that happened on visitation recently was while my husband was going door to door, he stopped to talk to a young man about the Lord and the man pulled out a marijuana joint and started rolling it up right in front of him! I was shocked! My husband warned him about the danger of that stuff after he had invited him to church; but he didn't seem to care. OFTEN we knock on doors and when the door opens we smell a strong aroma of what we call herbal essence (marijuana) hit us in the face. It is almost like an epidemic or something. Raymond preaches often about the power of Christ to free people from addictions and the importance for us to make decisions early about staying away from harmful substances.
Once again, I love being involved actively in the lives of other for the Lord's sake; but anyone serving the Lord needs prayer and needs to be praying. Sometimes I have to remind myself that we (my husband and I) may be the only ones praying for many of these folks by name. This year my spiritual challenge is to increase my prayer time dramatically.
This post is getting long so I must end it; but thank all of you for reading! And a special thanks to all of you who pray for us!
Until next time,