Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

March 7, 2010


Returning to Trinity is like walking again on holy ground


        “I shall return.” That was the promise General Douglas MacArthur made as he left the Philippine Islands aboard a PT boat in 1942. He did return with an army two years later to free the Philippine people from the Japanese. His return was a high point in his brilliant military career.

        When retiring in 2002 as one of the pastors of Opelika’s Trinity United Methodist Church, I did not promise to return. I did not expect to return. I passed the baton to another pastor. However, the pastors who succeeded me have more than once graciously invited me to return and for this lovely serendipity I am most thankful.

        Returning to Trinity has been exhilarating. It is like going back to a beloved overflowing well when you are thirsty and having a cup of cold water. There I experienced so many times the kindness of God.  There the ground under my feet was often holy ground because I knew God was at work changing the lives and destinies of people, including my own.  

Serving the people in that church for 13 years was a season of joy and fulfillment for me. Those years became the capstone of my ministry and one of the best chapters of my life.

Not that there were no problems; there were plenty. But in the midst of troubles too big for us to handle we learn to depend on God rather than ourselves. And depending on God we discover that it is in the fire that he tempers the steel of our lives. The result is integrity and character that lasts beyond the pain of our trials. It is a sheer joy to realize that God is using your troubles to refine and shape your life. Once you know that you can stand the heat.

        Today I return to Trinity again through the gracious hospitality of the pastors, my friends Joe Lay and Earl Ballard. Joe and Earl are most effective servants of Christ; they know how to do the work of ministry. They know how to love people into the kingdom, how to make hurting people feel that the church on the corner is there for them. And they have earned the respect of the people in the Opelika-Auburn community.

        From what I have heard things at Trinity are in high gear. The church is on the move and the people are busy sharing the love of Christ with the hungry, the lonely, and the needy. Hurting people know they can find help at Trinity.

        Trinity has a reputation. It is known as a church that does more than talk about reaching out; the people do reach out to people in the community and across the world. The people know that “missions” is not just a word; it is the lifeblood of the church. A church without a heart for missions is, and always has been, dead in the water because God is a missionary God.

        Today is a big day for Trinity. The focus is on missions. The theme for worship is “God So Loved the World – Do We?”  Truth is, we too must love the world if we truly love God. You simply cannot love God in isolation, all wrapped up in yourself.

To love God is to love people, all people, wherever they live, and whatever the color of their skin. To love God is to care about whatever breaks the heart of God, and to do what you can to help people of all nations learn to love and worship God.

By noon today decisions will be made by several hundred people, through faith promises, to strengthen the work of more than two dozen mission causes and missionaries all over the world. What an honor is mine – to return on such a day and see the Christ in the faces of those who joyfully serve him in this great church. I will be standing on holy ground. Glory! + + +