The first Sunday of June 1997 at once seems like yesterday and like a thousand years ago. That was the date my wife and I and a couple in their 70s started the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina. We had canvassed the area a few weeks ahead of time and, on our first service, had 27 people in attendance. We are now celebrating our 25-year anniversary, which normally leads me to quip, "I started the church when I was 9."
Three years ago, on our 22-year anniversary, I wrote a column about the funny things that have happened along the way, things like setting the entire front lawn on fire, building a steeple in the back room of the church without paying attention to the fact that its base was bigger than the door frame we intended to carry it out through, a fire extinguisher still present from the old fish camp blowing its top right through the roof of the building and a brouhaha over Kool-Aid.
But if you will be so kind as to bear with me as I put my thoughts and my heart on paper once again, I would like to reminisce just a bit about the amazing, heart-strings-tugging things I have been blessed to see through these 25 years. God's people really are the most amazing people on Earth when you get right down to it, and I love being around them.
My wife had a preteen girls activity at our house one afternoon, and it included making homemade cookies. One of our precious young ladies came to her and asked, "Mrs. Dana, would it be OK if I make a cookie to take home to my brother? If not, that's no problem; he can just have mine." Precious kid, that one.
Our bus started picking up a girl who had next to nothing and was being raised by a single and somewhat aged and infirm father. She came to church every Sunday for weeks in a row wearing the same tattered and stained dress and clearly had never had anyone to show her how to take care of herself. Three of our older teenage girls came to her in church and said, "We want to take you out tomorrow for a big day."
They arranged a time to meet and went and picked her up. They took her shopping, and with their own money, bought her a bunch of nice new clothes, got her hair styled and got her a mani-pedi. She walked in the next service beaming from ear to ear like Cinderella at the ball. Hard not to cry when you see something like that.
Just before Christmas one year, three of our bus kids had their apartment burn down. The landlord moved them into another one, but everything — gifts, clothes, furniture — was lost. Within 24 hours, our folks had loaded up a large enclosed trailer twice with everything they needed, including new gifts to go under the tree.
A gentleman and his family once came to our church for a couple of years and then decided we were not exactly what they were looking for. They left on good terms and went to a church just a few miles away. A year or so later, the man came down with very serious cancer, and we found out about it. And on the day he went in for surgery, 24 members of our church were there in the waiting room gathered around his wife, along with some folks from their new church.
He made it through that round. But when it finally got him a year or so later, a bunch of men showed up at their large property unannounced and cut the grass that had been getting out of hand for weeks.
A good family went into court to fight for custody of a child that had been in their home for a good while, and so many people from the church showed up to support them that most of us had to wait outside.
Another family landed on some hard times and lost their means of transportation. Another family in church gave them a vehicle. More handicap ramps have been built both for members and folks in need in the community than I can count. A single mom with small kids was set up with furniture and groceries. Multiple kids in need have been taken in and raised by people who were not even related to them.
One of our charter members, our "church grandmother," got too old and weak to take care of herself and had to move to Atlanta to live with her son and family. But she told him often how much she missed us, and he told us. So an entire busload of people loaded up and drove three and a half hours just to visit her.
Other pastors could doubtless add a library full of instances that they have seen through their ministries. What it boils down to is that God's people are wonderful, the best anywhere. They have not just read the words of Matthew 25:40; they have internalized them. Those words are from Jesus, who said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
I love being around God's people.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at wordofhismouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.