Either way, it was certainly a God thing. Rev. Carlton Ring has done my taxes for me ever since I got into the ministry. As a pastor, he also does my church's tax forms. After going to see him in late January / early February, we began talking as we normally do about church, politics, and family. As I was telling him about what God was doing in our church, I saw an excitement come over him. He began talking about the need for us to find ourselves face down before God again seeking Him for revival, souls saved, people filled with the Spirit, delivered, and healed. I listened as he spoke with passion about his desire. When he finished I told him it sounded like he had a few more sermons left in him. What he said floored me. He responded, "No one really wants to hear an old man." That broke my heart. For one, I know Bro. Carlton and consider him to be a godly man who loves his family, country, and church. Second, in the moment I heard him say that, the Lord spoke to me and said, "Many of my men and women think this." The conversation shifted to the taxes at hand, but my heart was stirred. Upon finishing the taxes, I told Bro. Carlton that I would be happy for him to come preach at my church. As only the old timers' would say, he responded, "Don't just ask me to come Ryan. I'd love to come, but you pray about it first and if God speaks to you to have me come, I'll come and be ready to preach the Word." This attitude is so different than what seems to be prevailing in many circles now. In a day where as a pastor, I receive phone calls asking to come and preach at my church, here is a man of God only agreeing to come preach at my church if God tells me to call him. I will stop to say that I'm not against advertisement and I understand evangelists, singing groups, and others have to put themselves out there, but it can go overboard. Bro. Carlton's approach was certainly refreshing.
I left his office and sat in my car and as soon as I sat down the Lord spoke to me again and said, "One day that will be you should I tarry." I began to cry as I thought about how I feel now not hardly being able to wait to preach again or to do ministry and lead my church in the community day after day and to know that should the Lord tarry, at some point I'll have to give that up due to my age and the limitations that tend to come with it. I'll still have the same desires and drive I'm sure, but I won't have the outlet to do it. I asked the Lord what I could do, and the Legacy Campmeeting was birthed in my heart and will now be an annual event at Free Point Church. I'm not sure how many will come. I'm not sure what will be said about it. I just know it's a God thing. Our men and women who blazed the trail before us in ministry deserve our utmost respect and admiration. They didn't do everything right, but neither do we. What can't be questioned however is there love for God and their church. In many ways, the pastorate has become a glamorous position. With modern technology, a good sized church can make for a nice position. But many of our retired men and women don't know anything of that padded lifestyle. They were Pentecostal before it was popular and all over TV. They sacrificed and endured and God used them mightily. And as I look at the state of our country and the Christian church today, we need to be reminded of those old sacred pathways of prayer, fasting, worship, and scripture that are tried and true and are dwindling in the modern church. We need to return to the basics of our faith. It's my belief that this will happen during this meeting and it will be a constant reminder to us year after year. If you can't tell, I'm excited!
So with that being said, we have a great line up. Sunday night, Bro. Carlton is starting the week off at 6 PM. I've already shared with you how I know Bro. Carlton. I first knew of him through his brother in law, Rev. Jesse Ogden, who is a spiritual father and mentor for me. He was my pastor when I was a teenager and I received my call to ministry under his ministry and with his confirmation. I would later work for him and enjoyed my time with him greatly. Bro. Ogden was definitely on my short list to be a part of this event but due to some recent health problems, I'll have him headlining it next year! (I hope you're reading this Bro. Ogden!)
Monday night, Rev. Lowell Smith is preaching for us. Bro. Smith's son currently pastors my home church of Hazlehurst Church of God. I met Bro. Smith a few years back when he came to one of our Sunday night special services. We talked before service and I felt an immediate connection with him. Talking with him after service, he was such a tremendous encouragement to me. He encouraged me to keep preaching the Word and to not change a thing and that in due season God would enlarge my ministry and the church and he couldn't wait to see it. I responded with thanking him for all of his years of service to the Lord. When I started putting this event together, he immediately came to mind.
Tuesday night, Rev. Richard Lewis is preaching for us. I've always called him Mr. Lewis because before I knew he was a Church of God preacher, I knew him as my 7th grade social studies teacher. I could tell something different about Mr. Lewis when I first met him at the beginning of the school year and I tried hard to make him proud with my work. I had no idea what a profound impact he would have in my life. During my 7th grade year, I felt led to start a Bible Club at the school. We had Y Club and Beta Club, but no Bible Club. My idea was a weekly early morning meeting for prayer and devotion. I spoke to the office about it and was told I would need a teacher to sponsor it. Mr. Lewis immediately came to mind and upon talking to him, the ball got rolling and the first ever Bible Club at Jeff Davis Junior High School was started. I ran it throughout my 7th and 8th grade years as Mr. Lewis remained the sponsor and we met in his classroom on Thursday mornings at 7:15. Upon moving up to High School, Mr. Lewis helped keep the Bible Club going by trying to find new students to run it. I believe it ran steady all the way until he retired from teaching. Mr. Lewis and I never went to the same church but I know God put him in my pathway. He was the first person outside of my local church and family that saw the call of God on my life and fostered it and sowed into it. I owe a great deal to him today.
Wednesday night, Rev. Sam Creamer is preaching for us. I've been knowing Bro. Sam most all my life. He and his family lived just a block or so away from me growing up. The Creamers ended up coming to my home church from pastoring during Bro. Ogden's tenure and it was then that I met Russ. He was 8 years older than me at the time, but we hit it off anyway playing church softball. Eventually I'd go to work for him and now he works for me! How's that for karma . . . (just kidding!) I remember enjoying hearing Bro. Sam preach as a kid. When the anointing would hit him, he looked as if he would explode and the glory of God would come down all around. I'm excited to get to hear him one more time.
When I called each of these men, I was so blessed. I about cried after hanging up the phone each time. The excitement they had when I asked them to come and preach and be a part of this event humbled me and broke me. Each time I hung up the phone, I was taken back to that moment sitting in front of Bro. Carlton's accounting office in Jesup. Some have said that these men are old and their preaching won't be what it used to be. To that I'd say that those individuals are shallow in the spiritual walk with the Lord and don't understand the anointing. The anointing quickens, strengthens, and empowers. Coincidentally, if one or more of these men can't preach as they would like to due to their health, I know that God is going to honor, bless, anoint, and quicken their message to the hearers and we will be blessed for honoring these men and their families. We're going to do some old campmeeting style songs and pull out some hymnals and really honor our heritage. The Bible says to give honor where honor is due and at Free Point, we are very much about looking forward and taking new ground, but we also know where we came from and want to give honor to those who paved the way for our church and many other churches to exist.
So make your plans to be part of our 1st Annual Legacy Campmeeting beginning Sunday night and running through Wednesday night. It's going to be an amazing time! Tell someone about it and get ready for a great move of God!