Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Notes From A Traveling Preacher

By Taft Ayers

I returned home after a long stint of preaching in different cities across the southeast (mostly). I was away and my wife was at home taking care of our first child (who is set to arrive, Lord willing, in October) and herself.

There were many phone calls home, but those really didn't do the trick. I preached in 7 churches over the past two weeks. Why? Because I am still learning the art of saying "no" and not "spreading myself too thin."

Returning home was nice. Beyond nice, it was therapeutic. I leave on Thursday to go to a third world country and do some more preaching. It will be here way too soon. While I was gone (and not honoring my verbal commitment to write for my dear friend, Cammo) there were many things that happened that were blog-worthy with the Christians that I encountered.

I will share some of them with you, to prompt your thinking (and laughter). I won't tell the names or the cities, because, let's be honest, it could have been one of your relatives! Enjoy.

  • I was preaching in a very rural congregation. It was the type of place that you see in the movies. I was only there for two days, but they had me preach 6 times (you try to figure that one out). I felt like a preacher from 1956 who knocked on doors, got in the pulpit, and then knocked some more. It was an old-school gospel meeting. Needless to say, in the 2 days that I was there, many of the blue-haired sisters in Christ took in all of the information about me that they could. They asked me many questions and told me that they had only been to Memphis once. I attempted to tell them where the congregation that I work for is located. When describing our geographic location, it usually goes like this, "get off I-4o at exit 20, travel down Houston Levee. There are some gated communities on the left, once you cross over 64 and then past Macon Road you will find our building on the left." One certain lady re-told this at a luncheon. She told her son (who was 55), "the next time you are heading to Memphis, go see Taft. Get off 40, and once you see the gay community pop up, you're almost there." She left her hearing aid at home that day, really hated my pink and blue tie, or she just has a ROCKING sense of humor. Either way, I was in stitches.

  • Another stint found me in a more urban church. They were very hospitable, but I must admit, they didn't do pot-lucks nearly as well as the previously mentioned church. We had one dinner at the building before I parted ways with them. There was a 4 year old boy with his mother and she was engaging me in a conversation about our son that is on the way. Before we parted ways, she hit me with a very proper, "you will be in our prayers." I thanked her and then her son informed me that he would start praying "right away." It really touched my heart. I also found myself almost in tears when he closed his eyes, had a concentrated look on his face, and began to shift from one foot to the other." I whispered to her (where I didn't think he heard me), "Ma'am, this is sweet. He's praying on the spot." His eyes opened, he looked at me with his baby blues and said, "No. Brother Taft, I haven't prayed yet, I just pooted." Completely hysterical.

  • I found myself in south Georgia (30 miles from Tallahassee) helping with a church that is almost extinct. In this small town, EVERYTHING is racially divided. I met with the men at the church and told them my plans to reach out to the community. They had a map out of areas that I shouldn't "bother with" because they were too dangerous. Translation: A BUNCH OF NON-WHITES DON'T LIVE THERE. I got in the church van, took out the seats and went to that area that the "sweet white church men" (whose only defense was 'we were just raised this way') hadn't highlighted on my map and filled it with 4 families from the ghetto. I came back to the building and informed a lady that bible class would be extra full. By the end of my stint with this church we had moved their numbers for the meeting from 25 on the first night to 108 on the final. 67 non-whites. Please pray for this church. God really used me as a tool to bring them together. I hope that the ignorant mentalities that all of our fellow men possess will move past the hatred and separation and spiritually set the congregation, and town, on fire.

  • God is good all of the time. Long live the bunkhouse.

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