G&T

In 1970, a pastor’s wife asked a 20-year-old new convert to help with children’s church. She’d only been in the church a few weeks, and had never taught children. She wasn’t trained. She wasn’t “called.” She was willing.

That day she served the pastor’s wife and helped with the kids. After a few moments, the pastor’s wife reached over and said, “I think you have this. I need to go back and help my husband in the service.”

She left that girl in the children’s church that morning, and the girl kept coming back to serve. She and her husband ministered faithfully. They grew and invested and served and became gifted kids pastors. Dozens of ministers, missionaries, Sunday school teachers, pastor’s wives and pastors have developed through their ministry.

Forty-nine years later, Brenda and Henderson Hoggard are serving the younger generation as children’s pastors. They have built teams, trained workers, designed curriculum and led the children’s ministry of Askewville Assembly with diligence because they said “yes” when asked.

As I lead the church today, I often consider who others will deem worthy to lead. I consider competency, longevity, holiness and influence, but God doesn’t seek a resume of past victories to qualify his servants. God is looking for the willingness to answer the call.

And, if God is generous in His choices, why shouldn’t we be? Why can’t I? We must not make it difficult for those God is bringing in! We have a great work to do, and God uses anyone yielding to Him.

In Acts chapter 15, we find the Jewish people on edge because of this great revival among the Gentiles, and no one is demanding these new converts follow all the Jewish laws! It seems the most major and intimate law is the one they are most concerned about.

A group of strict, Jewish followers just couldn’t get their minds around God embracing those who hadn’t lived under the restrictions they’d endured. They couldn’t see the grace of the law, and so they also couldn’t grant grace to those separated from the law.

The apostles and all the pastors in Jerusalem assembled to discuss the issue. Peter opened up by speaking about Cornelius’ house and that God had fallen powerfully among those that were “afar off.” Barnabas told of God’s miracles among the port cities lining the Mediterranean rim when he and Paul journeyed there. Finally, James, the brother of Jesus, speaks from the heart.: “We must not trouble those turning to God.” He said that entering the family and ministry should be simplest for those who are newest.

How often in the church do we lower the bar for our behavior and raise it for those outside or brand new? We should be most inviting to those who are weak and immature. We should open doors of ministry and service to people immediately after finding Christ!

No one understands grace as much as someone who has just drunk from the well of compassion. My heart is to help people to take it easy on themselves. Give yourself some grace. And make it easy on those far from God. Faith, hope, and love will change anyone’s life. Don’t complicate it. Let’s not make it difficult.

Take it easy and make it easy for “all that are afar off.”

Pastor Emanuel Webb Hoggard is Pastor at Askewville Assembly of God. He can be reached via email at pastorwebb@hotmail.com.

Thadd White is Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance and can be reached via email at twhite@ncweeklies.com.