One of the problems with teaching is that your students finally grow up, take on ministries of their own and unfortunately remember the stories that you told in the classroom. Such was the case when I got an email from Stephen Bounds on the other side of Charlotte.
Stephen and his wife Julie were in my evangelism and bible classes at Bethany some six or more years ago. They now have three children, another on the way and have lived in 17 different places since they were married. Stephen wound up overseeing the Plaza Baptist Church in the north Charlotte area dubbed with the regional distinction NO-DA (North Davidson). NO-DA has an interesting reputation. On one side of the street you have the emmerging arts community. These folks have moved in, buying the older and at one time fashionable art-deco homes, remodeling them while on the other side of the street there remains WW II tract housing where as many as twelve or more African-Americans live with their extended families in two (rather small) bedroom homes. In effect, there are two communites in economic and cultural tension.
Stephen felt that he must do something to reach out to the surrounding neighborhoods so he invited me, Jeanne, eight area churches and ministries like Child Evangelism Fellowship to join Plaza Baptist in a festival on their parking lot. Stephen went right ahead facing down the ominous weather forcast of rain, rain and more rain. Stephen is English so this may account for his lack of concern. The weatherman was right. Nevertheless, the churches stood their ground and in the pouring rain continued all afternoon to preach the gospel in a variety of ways from clowning and worship groups to food and clothing give-aways to Hickory Baptist Church and their 2500 grilled wieners. In the picture below, it appears that I have had my fair share of wieners.
I did what I always have done when opportunity presents itself. I did drawings of both “Zaccheus” and then later “The Rich Young Ruler” and preached the gospel. I was once asked by a seminary professor of how I preached my last sermon. He inquired, “Was it expositional or topical?” In those days I didn’t know what those words meant so I just replied with the truth, “Loudly.” I preached “loudly” and in spite of the rain I got of attention and “Amen” agreement with what I had to say. The Baptists can be faulted for many things but one thing they are clear about, they know the old-fashioned, Bible gospel when they hear it.
I am home now, at least until Jeanne is on the mend. It was great to have her with me. Just like the old days when (it is not her calling) she went with me everywhere, supporting and encouraging. I will never take her for granted again. She has been the Lord’s “help meet” and my help mate.