Pastor Dustin Benge:
I grew up in a small Southern Baptist church in eastern Kentucky. Four generations of my family had attended the church, and my great-great-grandparents were buried nearby. My grandpa drove the church bus, and my mom played the piano.
I remember the Christian and American flags flanking the stage as we sang patriotic songs every year during VBS. The pastor preached from the KJV, visited the sick, and called unbelievers to repentance. We sang from the Heavenly Highway Hymnbook. I heard the gospel, was saved and called to preach in this church.
When I began theological education, I quickly became puffed up with pride thinking I knew much more than everyone in this little southern church who were not as “intellectual and I was.” Many years later, I came to realize that these faithful farmers, miners, teachers, truck drivers, veterans, and homemakers genuinely loved the Lord, the gospel of Christ, their neighbors, and desired to obey the Bible faithfully.
Could they have been more theologically precise, perhaps? Could the sermons have been more hermeneutically correct, maybe? Could there have been more training for leaders, probably? But I came to realize that I had more to learn from these men and women than I had to teach them. They weren’t perfect, but now that I look back, I was in heaven on earth. This was the church.
We may have degrees and experience, but we must never dismiss those who faithfully serve the Lord. Their names are known only in heaven and within the communities they’ve served. Let’s pray for these warriors of Christ, for they’ll enter glory far ahead many of us.