Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
March 31, 2019
The joy of seeing God at work
Pastor Ken Austin gave me the opportunity to preach last Sunday in his church, the New Walk of Life Church in West Montgomery. Spinning off the church’s name, I preached about our privilege of “walking with Jesus.” I urged the people to keep walking with Jesus here so that one day they can walk with him in the glory of the City of God. It was a great way to celebrate my 87th birthday with my wife Dean by my side and our son Steve running the sound system.
After church we joined the congregation for lunch at the Mercy House, a renovated home up the street that offers assistance to dozens of needy people in that impoverished community. Lunch was provided by a team of people from Saint James United Methodist Church. The team “captain” is Coralie McDavid, who will turn 93 on her next birthday. Every fourth Sunday for two years Coralie has provided delicious food for the congregation which numbers from 75 to 100 every Sunday. Amazingly, no matter how many come to eat, Coralie always has enough food.
To my surprise, the church provided a huge birthday cake which everyone helped me enjoy. Fortunately, the church heeded the advice of the fire department not to light 87 candles! I had not anticipated having a cake nor such a beautiful one decorated handsomely with fruit.
Crystal Johnson, one of the women in the New Walk of Life Church, lost her mother, Mary Walker, last week. Pastor Austin announced that the family did not have the $6,000 needed to bury Mary so he invited the congregation to give a love offering to help with funeral expenses. At the end of worship, we were all surprised when he announced that the offering was $3,500! Monday the pastor appealed to Facebook friends for help and by Wednesday the full $6,000 was in hand and the funeral was scheduled for Saturday. Asked to explain such generosity, Pastor Austin offered his usual explanation, “God is at work in this community!”
With the help of some kind United Methodists in Orange Beach, the church was able recently to secure a bus which Ken uses to bring people to church. The majority of attendees are children and youth so last month Pastor Austin hired a Youth Pastor to share his ministry. His name is Prince Davis, a splendid young college graduate who could be making more money elsewhere but feels called by God to serve alongside Pastor Austin. The addition of a bus and a fine Youth Pastor since Christmas inspires me to echo Pastor Austin’s words: “God is at work in this community!”
Next door to the church is the Pathway House. Only a year ago it was dilapidated old home in ruins, without water or a bathroom. The renovation of that house is another perfect example of “God at Work” on Council Street. Now the redesigned building provides rooms for Sunday School classes on Sunday and community training during the week. Last Sunday night, for example, Dr. Den Trumbull and his wife Nancy, who worshiped with us Sunday morning, offered a Parenting Class using his fine book, Loving By Leading. It was the third such parenting class offered in the church by Doctor Trumbull, a Montgomery pediatrician. Think about it: parents in that community being offered much needed help to discipline and raise their children!
Other helpful training in life skills, such a class on handling finances, is being offered in the beautiful Pathway House facility. This afternoon Janeese Spencer will be at the church to share with women the uplifting principles that undergird her dynamic teaching as the Executive Director of Venture Life Coaching. A truly marvelous learning opportunity for women! Dare I say it again: God is at work in this community!
Turning 87 has made me truly thankful for the many years God has given me. For most of those years I have yearned to use my time to serve Jesus and inspire people to love him and serve him. And I thank God for giving me this yearning, a desire which still energizes my life. The Bible says Methuselah lived 969 years, had children “and then died.” That’s it. Nothing more. But the Bible says that Methuselah’s father Enoch, and his grandson Noah, both “walked with God.” How tragic that nothing could be said about how Methuselah used his years!
The length of one’s days is not as important as what is done with the days one has. As I near the end of my days, my heart’s desire is that I may so serve Jesus that my friends will one day be able to say, “He walked with Jesus.”
I am indebted to three gifted pastors who have allowed me in my “retirement years” to serve Jesus alongside them in their churches – Lester Spencer and Allen Newton at Saint James United Methodist Church and Ken Austin at New Walk of Life Church. These men walk with Jesus. So when you walk with Jesus, you experience the great joy of walking with others who are walking with him. And that joy is so wonderful that now and then you find yourself shouting, “God is at work in this community!” While I cannot actually “see” God, it is enough to see His Handiwork! Glory! + + +