Thirty years ago (1980) I was taken on as an Associate Pastor in charge of evangelism and church growth at Smith’s Falls Free Methodist Church southwest of Ottawa some forty-five miles. This was my first time-serving in a real church. In those days there were about one hundred forty people in the small church building on McGill Street. The church is now located four miles south of town on Highway 29.
It was fun to pull into the parking lot where now nearly three-hundred-fifty people meet in this town of 10,000 plus people. It was like “Old Home Week” when many of those who were there in our early days are still active though much older. Fortunately, they have held out and now there is sanctuary full of young faces ready to take their places in leadership.
I have known the pastor, Angel Valentin for all of this time. He is a good friend and instrumental in the conversion of my oldest son, Schuyler in 1990. Angel was the speaker at a Men’s Fellowship meeting the Saturday morning Sky responded to the gospel. In some ways we are indebted to each other and build on one another’s’ foundations. A number of those in Angel’s congregation turn out to be those converted under my preaching between 1975 and 85.
There were two services so I preached two different messages. At the better attended 9:30 hour I preached on “The Second Experience.” It was Pentecost Sunday so I spoke on the need to move beyond “presence” and on to “power” and “purity” and these were found in the additional and ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. I won’t preach the message over but I used John 19, where Jesus comes through the wall on the very night of the resurrection, breathes on them and says, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit.” It was then that they were born again and not before. Even after this he tells them to wait for “the Promise of the Father, not many days hence.” Fifty days later the same people were filled with the Holy Spirit while they waited in Jerusalem. I went on to prove my case from Philip in Samaria (Acts 8) and Paul on Straight Street when Ananias came in and laid hands on him and he was subsequently filled with the Holy Spirit and boldness. This promise remains for us, our off spring and to as many as God the Father will call.
In the second message I preached one of my favorite gospel messages entitled, “Like Jumping to Capri,” where I used Romans 10:1-4 and 4:16 as my texts.
After all of this Barb Smail, a gal I led to the Lord in 1980, took us to lunch at Gerbo’s Restaurant where I first met her in 1976. Barb was one tough convert! She brought with her to lunch, her daughter Lori and grand-daughter Lilly. Our friend and hers, Pat Saunders who also became a Christian under my ministry in 1977 came along. Both remain Jeanne’s close friends.
After a good, long lunch we parted company and went on to Stittsville and spent some time on their deck with our friends Randy and Tracy Haw. Randy and Tracy are ACCI missionaries in the Ottawa area and primarily work with people who have addictive backgrounds.