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For the boy “Growing Up on Dump Ground Road,” every day was filled with new adventures. Sure, there was the daily routine of getting up, cleaning up, dressing up and going to school. Yet, from that point on the day was filled with opportunities to learn and grow. He was blessed with good teachers, loving family members and caring friends. His Aunt Evelyn drove him, his siblings and his cousins to school. Her black and white Chevy Impala was the “Muston School Bus.” As they got older, his cousin, Bill, became the driver. The DGR kid learned a lot on those early morning drives.

Among his closest friends were kids from a variety of backgrounds. Some attended churches of different faiths, with a strange way of ending their morning prayers. He was fascinated by the sign of the cross made by his Catholic classmates. He even had a girl in his class who attended church on Saturday, rather than on Sunday. Her faith would not allow her to participate in class parties on holidays. He was shocked to learn that some friends did not attend any church. This was particularly sad to him, because his dearest friends were those with whom he attended First Baptist Church each week.

The people at his church felt more like family to him than friends. The deacons and Sunday School teachers were like wise uncles and loving aunts. They were quick to praise him or correct him, according to his behavior. His dear friends, Glenn, Debbie and Mary Beth, seemed like cousins or even siblings. It was hard to imagine his life without the support and encouragement of his “faith family.” Even then, he understood that his classmates without a church home were missing out on a major blessing.

The man that God grew from that DGR kid is still troubled that many people do not know the joy of having a close-knit church family. I know that the Lord was preparing me to be a pastor from an early age. He placed a call on my life at age 16, but the training began long before that time. He had me grow up under the tutelage of a godly grandmother and a faithful Christian mother. He gave me a loving pastor to mentor me, in Bro. D. D. Simpson. He put committed men and women in my life to serve as teachers in Sunday School, Training Union and Royal Ambassadors. Long before I stepped foot in a college or seminary class, I was taught the truths of God’s Word. I am forever grateful for the impact that my church family had on my life. I am thankful that God has placed me in a church, for the past 30 years, that shares my understanding of what it means to be the body of Christ and the family of God.

Serving in love, Bro. Jim


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