Saturday, January 07, 2006


I just returned from Jacksonville, North Carolina from a visit with my oldest son. My son had told me about a small Baptist Church that he had been visiting that is about 40 minutes from his house, and that he had never in his life felt Christ alive in a church. I decided to drive to North Carolina to visit Mark for his 27th birthday, and to attend Wednesday night church services with him. The name of the church was Emmanuel Baptist Church in Swansboro, North Carolina and the pastor is named Dr. Wakefield.

Upon entering the church, we were greeted by men and women that actually looked us in the eye and grabbed our hand to welcome us. I have been in many churches in my life time, but nothing compared to this welcome. About 35 people left their seats in the pews when the service began and went forward to sing in the choir. For a Wednesday night, it was unbelievable. And the prayers involved the minister and anyone that wanted to come forward getting on their knees and praying out loud. I have been to services where people prayed in tongues, and I could not understand. These folks were praying in audible words, and it did not seem at all out of place. It was beautiful, and I could actually feel a calm spiritualness in the sanctuary.

Then one lady in the choir started to share her feelings of anguish over the showing of Daniel on NBC, and other members of the church spoke out about the showing and how to contact NBC and sponsors. It was like a large family of people talking about problems around a dinner table. And then Pastor Wakefield took the microphone, and was very hoarse but said that he was going to give the best preaching that he could. This pastor was so passionate, humble and walked down from the pulpit many times to express something that he was preaching. The main verse that he focused on was in Matthew 24, verse 36, which talks about the unknown return of Jesus Christ. He was talking about a blind woman that wrote many Christian hymns that said she would know her Lord when she felt the nail imprints in his hand, and walked down to a member of the congregation and said do you feel the power of her belief holding out the palm of his hand.

Then when he preached about gathering your children up to be ready for the reunion with Jesus Christ, I looked around the congregation and realized that there were no youth in the pews. And then the pastor talked about his wonder of what Christ would look like, whether he would be six foot two or only 4 foot that it would not matter to him. Well I was thinking about a passage in the old Testament that talked about how no one could view God and live through it because of his power, and the pastor said the very same thing that I was thinking and directed us to turn to old Testament. I thought of the Left Behind movie where families miss their loved ones in the second coming, and he talked about the Left Behind and that it was not true to the scriptures. I was absolutely overwhelmed because I felt that he was preaching to me only. Mark had told me that he felt when he went to the services that the pastor was speaking directly to him, and I actually felt the same feelings. When the service was over, I was sad as I wanted the pastor to keep preaching. I am telling anyone reading this that I have never in my life felt a sadness when a sermon ended. I had forgot to put my visitors card in the offering plate, and when the service was over I approached the pastor to hand it to him. He looked me in the eyes, and said the youth are in another building and the little ones are in the nursery. I know in my heart that through Christ, he had known what my questions were during the sermon. It was so powerful of an experience, as Mark has been to about 30 churches and he had called me and told me, "Momma, I have never experienced a church like this in my life."

After the service, a lady approached me and ask me if I would come back to the church again. She told me that she had seen my son there, and then she told my son to please keep coming back and she said I wish your Mom lived here to come to this church. I told the lady that I was glad that the church addressed the airing of the Daniel show, and she got tears in her eyes, and said that she quit watching television four years ago but that she could not get away from it because people in the church informed her of what was on. I told her that I was sorry if I upset her by talking about it, and she said that was fine. Her sorrow over the ugliness of what is on television was so great that it made me feel sad. Mark had already took a married couple that are friends of his from Virginia, and the young woman is a Christian from Sweden and she said that she had never been in a church that was so spiritual. They both talked to the pastor, and told him that they were definitely going to share their experience with their Baptist Church in Virginia. The congregation was made up of lower to middle income class, and many Marines were in the congregation. Christ was very much in that church, and I only wish that every Christian could get the opportunity to experience this church.

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