CLAY COUNTY, TN
June 10th through 15th, Jimmy Davis & I traveled to Clay County, TN to make new acquaintances and contacts on behalf of the Antioch Initiative's church-planting work. There are more congregations of the Lord's church in Clay County than any other county in the U.S.
In light of our recent resolve not buy church properties or to rent church facilities, one might wonder why we continue to seek out brethren to share the challenge of planting churches in the U.S. The answer is as follows. First, we have two congregations being supported by year-to-year commitments of good brethren, but one cannot predict when or if circumstances might arise to cause one or more of those supporters to have to end their support. Kevin Donaldson shared an illustration from a brother (I cannot remember who) who said supporting works is like a Ferris Wheel that turns with new people getting on and others getting off. If there is not a continued effort to encourage new people to get on, then, eventually, one can foresee the seats being empty. We would urge all our supporters to stay on and stay the course with us as we seek to see the two congregations in Sayre & Tunkhannock reach financial independence. Sayre (the Valley Cities church) is rapidly moving toward self-support. Yet, we are committed to stand by both church-plants until that happens. Second, as we seek to disciple lost souls in the U.S. and/or to locate Christians who may have moved to regions of the U.S. where no congregation of the church exists in practical distance of where they relocated, we plan to offer our preachers and teachers to deliver lessons and sermons by internet until which time they can locate their own evangelists. As far as meeting places, they can determine where they will meet (whether in a home or free space), yet, the meeting house will be their responsibility alone. Third, we will be in prayer that God will raise up evangelists who are interested in moving to a region of the U.S with the passion to multiple church-plant and elderships who will be raised up to support those messengers and mentors of disciples of Jesus. In short, we pray for and visualize thousands of congregations being planted and becoming self-supporting, self-propagating, and self-led. Although it has been said time and again, anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed!
On Sunday, June 11th, we were permitted to give a report of the Moss congregation in Moss, TN during their Bible class hour and, Dennis Miller (Moss preacher & one of the elders) was gracious in permitting me to preach the morning lesson. The Moss congregation has partnered with us with a $500 per month donation for over one year. Kevin Donaldson (the other Moss elder) provided us with numbers of contacts while in the area leading to some face-to-face meetings, or phone conversations with interested brethren.
On Sunday night, June 12th, through Kevin's recommendation, we were permitted to meet with the six elders of the Walnut Grove congregation and their preacher, Bobby Gore. They listened with much interest and were left with printed publications to deliberate on what role they might play in our work in the future. They had an abbreviated church service on Sunday evening so they could attend the gospel meeting of a sister congregation three miles away. Jimmy and I followed them there and made acquaintance with two other elderships which led to a meeting on Thursday
15th, with the elders of the Hilham congregation with elders Bybee and Johnson--dear brothers, indeed.
Kenny Westmoreland (evangelist of the rapidly growing Beech Bethany congregation in Celina, TN) gave us several contacts. The Beech Bethany congregation is supporting the work $100 per month. Kenny has already come to Montgomery; preached at Elmore congregation; and taught two classes for me at Faulkner University as a guest professor. Kenny is working on his Ph.D. at present.
Other contacts made while in that region were equally exciting. Among them were:
- Don Napier (Deacon of a congregation in Crossville, TN) who is very excited about our work and pledges to seek support from the Crossville congregation and stated his intention to support the work from personal funds as well. Don is a professional writer and publishes a newsletter going out to 19,000 homes. He offered to use his writing skills to assist our work and to do all our printing for free.
- Bobby Lane (Evangelist of the Jefferson Ave. congregation in Cookeville, TN) promised to present our work to his seven elders and to get back to us about a future appointment.
- Nathan Sherrell (Minister of Union Hill congregation) and John Carlisle (member at Union Hill) allowed us to speak at their Wednesday night services on June 14th and are deliberating on their future role in this work.
- Caleb Burnett (Preacher of the Celina congregation in Celina, TN) was called and a message was left.
- Tim McHenry (Preacher of Mt. Gilead congregation) was very friendly over the phone and we look forward to further dialogue when he returns from two weeks at Christian Camp.
- Jimmy & I were joyful to have lunch with the elders of the Sycamore congregation in Cookeville, TN and one of their beloved ministers and our dear brother, Kevin Daughrity. They will be unable to join us in the 2017 summer campaign in Tunkhannock this year, but our closeness to them is a treasure to us. Charles Vaughn (one of the Sycamore elders) gave us some good contacts for the future.
All of this has made us think, yet again, that heaven is going to be a wonderful place--I want to go there--and we all want to see as many lost souls come to Jesus and join us there.
Kenny Westmoreland and others encouraged us to return to Clay County in the Fall of 2017 and promised to give us further contacts.
God bless you all. We love you all. As you know, if something good develops in this work--you will know of it through this reports. On the other hand, if some setback occurs, you will know through these communications. This work is an open-page and may God have mercy on us all. We pray we can be used (working by your sides) to see the gospel cover the U.S. and the world in our generation.
God blessed us to receive a donation of $10,000 from the Westside congregation in Searcy, AR. May God be praised. As you know, all contributions and expenditures are reported in an expanded and unabridged financial report at the end of every year.
More later as God blesses.