The country music band, Alabama, (the best country band ever) recorded these words in their song, Forty Hour Week:
“There are people in this country who work hard every day.
Not for fame or fortune do they strive.
But the fruits of their labor are worth more than their pay.
And it’s time a few of them were recognized.”
I think quite a few in my preaching fraternity fit these lyrics. There are literally hundreds of preachers around our country who faithfully serve God’s church in small towns and rural settings- who often never receive much recognition. Yet they remain about the Father’s business- serving his people, sharing his word, ministering to the sick and hurting, doing their best to grow the kingdom.
I think of my Pensacola friend Tony Black. Tony suffered a stroke several years ago and had to relearn how to speak. Throughout this process Tony never wavered in his determination to preach again. Today he is providing much need experience while preaching for a small rural church in our area. Tony is one of those guys who has an indomitable spirit. He loves the Lord and his church and this has motivated him to overcome great odds to preach the gospel once again.
My long-time friend and college roommate, Les Ferguson, Jr. is another example of preaching dedication and commitment to God and his church. Les preaches for the growing Orange Grove church in Gulfport, MS. Outside of us in this general area, I am not sure how many are aware of the tremendous work God is doing in this church. Les is one of the most effective evangelists I know. He has taught and baptized dozens throughout his ministry there. He has remained in this city faithfully serving through hurricanes, family medical challenges, and the normal ups-and-downs of preaching. A couple of years ago they built a new church facility. Now they are outgrowing it. Preaching and sharing the joys of the Lord is what Les is all about.
Another dear preaching friend is Cecil May III. To me Cecil is the very definition of a local preacher. He has been serving the same church in Fulton, Ky for many years. He is heavily involved in his community and well-known as a man who loves and serves God. He is a man of personal integrity and ministry passion. What a blessing he is to his church and community.
Many preachers serve churches while also working at a “secular” job. These bi-vocational preachers are worthy of special honor. Two of my friends- Jon Mark Smith in McGregor, TX and Brad Adcock in Koscuiscko, MS- mange to balance these responsibilities. I have a special admiration for them. Their passion for preaching and serving the church is evident. Where would many of our churches across this country be without dedicated men like them. They are making a huge difference in their communities and I praise God for them.
But we don’t find these kind of men just at home. My colleagues, Ilia Amosov and Juozas Puodziukaitis labor faithfully serving the kingdom in Vilnius, Lithuania. The Church of Christ they serve is only one of two in the entire country. Unlike other mission points, not many Christian groups travel to Vilnius. Sometimes they admit to feeling a bit isolated, but this does not damper their commitment to preach Christ and mature this first generation church. These brothers are a great encouragement to me. Their courage to persevere is amazing.
All of these brothers remind me of Paul’s words in Romans 10:14-15
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
I praise God for these- my preaching brothers. Their feet are indeed beautiful!