Good morning. As I write this I am sitting on a folding chair in the hallway of Weinberg Elementary School in Gilbert, AZ. I am readying for worship with the FreedomLIFE Church of Phoenix, which is part of an exciting emphasis by Southern Baptists to plant churches in larger metropolitan cities across the US. The cities were chosen based upon their size and because they each hold near negligible ratio’s of evangelical populations and witness. In short, few people claim to be followers of Christ in these cities – hence, the emphasis.
We are here working with Pastor Shea Ferguson, who, at the call of God upon both he and his wife, Amber, have uprooted themselves and their four children to move here from Georgia and become church planters. ParkwayHills is one of a handful of churches lending them financial support, and this weekend our Missions and Women’s Minister, Suzi Prizer, arranged for us to come and help them with a block party, neighborhood canvassing, partnership with an area pregnancy center, and by bringing encouragement, love and support. Needless to say, for Belinda and me, this has brought back memories of our own journey – one which began for us 28 years ago this month.
So this morning I asked Pastor Shea what he wanted from me for this final day of our visit, and he told me he wanted me to preach. I said, “No, Pastor! You preach! This is your church.” Then he added, ‘but, Pastor, our people need to hear from someone who has already done this, and who can tell them that they, through the power of God, can do this too.’ I understood. So my text in a few moments will be from Matthew 16 – which reminds us that upon Peter’s confession, our confession and the very same confession of all others who will follow, God WILL build His church. And with longing and love in my heart for this pastor, his family and precious church, I will say so once again. And… I will, of course, remember. I will remember the days of Brinker Elementary school in Plano, the handful of families who came in 1989, the challenges we faced, and the joy and miracle we witnessed over and again. For, indeed, it really is so - God WILL, and DOES, build His church, still.
So thank you ParkwayHills for giving me, Belinda, Bobby & Kim Adams, Mark Goode, Jim Hitt, Walter Mickels & Lisa Vanderburg the opportunity to go to Phoenix this weekend and tell this pastor and his small flock what we, too, have seen and know – that, ‘with God all things are possible’ - especially the building of His church. For, as the text says...
You are Peter (Petros), and upon this rock (petra – meaning your confession that I am the Christ) I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail (stand) against it.’ Matthew 16: 18
Blessings from Phoenix, indeed!