A year ago yesterday, I (along with many gracious brothers and sisters at SWBTS) packed up my Penske truck, tearfully said our goodbyes and my family and I joyfully drove down with eager expectation of the great things God was going to do in and through our lives as we entered our first ever vocational ministry position. What took my friends and me, 4-5 hours to load our moving truck, it took the entire youth and college ministry of Woodlawn 45 minutes to unload our truck into our apartment. The kindness was so moving and exciting.
A year ago today, I began my first day on the job. It was exciting. I had already met so many gracious, kind, and wonderful people in the process. I had been praying for these students by name as I knew that night, Nov. 7th, I would be attending the Wednesday Night activities at the church, beginning my time with those whose names I knew and faces and hearts I’d get to know much more.
Our first Sunday there we were welcomed by the church with a dinner and a plethora of gift cards. Such overwhelming displays of God’s Grace, mercy, and love.
The year definitely came with its challenges in learning the way things are run in the context of Woodlawn. For example, I never took a class in seminary on coaching basketball. I had never coached before and had to learn how the sport was competitively played & done with godliness for our Upward basketball program. The process was a confidence builder for sure and I leaned on some sport-savvy brothers whom I could learn from and I really enjoyed working with them.
In regards to connecting with students, I really enjoyed getting to know each of my students. Through events, through getting a cup of coffee or bite to eat, through the routine of the schedule, through their trials, and through their joys. It is an honor to look back and see what God has done in their lives this past year.
If I were to summarize Woodlawn Baptist Church for you–it is filled with some of the kindest and most biblically-minded people I’ve ever met. They love God’s Word. Not only to hear it preached well to God’s glory but to sing it to God’s glory.
I learned about the importance of having a solid gospel liturgy that directs our hearts and minds to glorify God and not our emotions. That the songs we sing together every Sunday are not the most popular on the radio, but rather the ones (regardless of style) that draw our hearts to the central idea of the text of Scripture being proclaimed that specific Sunday morning.
I’m grateful for my wife, Jillian and sons, Shiloh & Thaddeus, who are great gifts from the Lord that I enjoy being around, to serve, and watch grow into who God has them to be here at Woodlawn. Many have come around them and loved on them. It’s so neat to see the relationships Jillian has built with the young ladies at Woodlawn. As well as the friends Shiloh and Thaddeus have made in our church.
I’m grateful for men like Lewis Richerson and Laramie Minga who have patiently helped me as a young leader develop this past year into a better husband, father, minister, preacher, singer, counselor, and planner by their words and by their example. As strong leaders, they have sought to equip me and let me lead what’s been given to me at this church. I’m glad we get along so well. They are becoming some of my closest friends.
I’m grateful for so many others who have served and shown great hospitality. I can’t help but praise God for the great things he has done and, Lord willing will continue to do here at Woodlawn for many years to come.
Thank you, God, for this year. Let the seeds we sow into the hearts of those at this gathering of believers, every time our doors are open bring forth a harvest of righteousness, faithfulness, and humility in the sheep You have given us to steward well.