This week, I met with four men: Alvin Gipson, pastor of Family of Believers Church, Jair Campos, a church planting consultant from our state convention (BGCT), and Rickie Bradshaw, a church planter from our local association (UBA). As you probably know, we are the sponsoring church for Family of Believers. The four of us meet quarterly to hear how Alvin is doing, help him work through problems, pray for him, and offer support. I hope that you pray regularly for this man of God. Starting a church from scratch sounds difficult in theory, but it's even harder in practice. Alvin is a full-time employee of Harris County. He has a wife and children. And now he has taken on a responsibility that must feel like he has adopted 40 newborns. There have certainly been some bumps in the road. Family of Believers has already had to move their meeting location three times, and they are currently looking for new space. Until we and the BGCT began sponsoring them this past year, most of the funding for ministry came directly from Alvin's pocket.
But this past meeting was a time of celebration. Family of Believers had nine new people join on Easter Sunday morning. Soon, they will need to borrow our baptistry to baptize several new believers. The members are becoming more committed to Bible study. One young woman told Alvin, "I never thought I'd quit going to the nightclubs. But I can't get up Sunday morning for Bible Study if I go to the club on Saturday night." Pray for Alvin Gipson and his family. Pray for them to be continually encouraged in their ministry. Pray for God to raise up godly men and women in the congregation who will become disciple-makers themselves.
I have to share one story I heard that night from Rickie Bradshaw. In addition to serving UBA, Rickie is also pastor of Southwest Baptist Church. He started by saying, "On Easter Sunday, three-fourths of my congregation was unsaved." That got our attention. He then told the story: A woman in his community was a Madam. She lived with a man, originally from South America, who was a drug dealer. Recently, this couple came to Rickie's church, heard the Gospel, and gave their lives to Christ. After they were saved, the man moved out of the house and lived with a friend. They came to Rickie and said, "We would like to get married, but we want the wedding to take place in front the entire church on Easter Sunday morning." So that's what they did in worship this past Sunday. The pews were filled with people from the worlds of prostitution and drugs. During Rickie's sermon, after the wedding had been completed, he talked about how the Second Coming of Christ is the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, about how Jesus is coming for His bride. He talked about how Jesus spent a lot of his time with prostitutes. He used the word "Ho," and not in an agricultural sense (Rickie's wife thought he crossed a line with that one). Many people accepted Christ at the end of the service.
Can you imagine a worship service like that? It occurred to me that in Jesus' earthly ministry, that would have been an everyday event. God is still the same today. He is doing incredible things right here in our city...and we get to be a part of them!