Faith Is Not always Easy!
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12 NLT)
My Call To The Ministry
In 1967, a year after Linda and I were married, I began to sense God’s call to the ministry. Our pastor, Rev. J.W. Coker, took us to visit the campuses of William Carey College in Hattiesburg and Mississippi College in Clinton. The day we visited Mississippi College, a friend I had worked with at Citizens National Bank was now working for a bank in Jackson, called my mother and said, “I heard Tommy is coming to Mississippi College. Tell him to call me because I want to hire him as a computer operator.” I worked at Mississippi Bank and Trust in Jackson during college years. I went to school during the day and worked at night. I was alone in the building as I did my work. I remember late one night as I was taking the backup discs, sorted checks, and printed reports to the vault, the elevator got stuck between floors. I was all by myself in the building. I was able to crawl out the top in a small crack and was able to call for help. No cell phones in those days!
During college days I was able to preach all over the state with Baptist Student Union Teams (BSU). I served several large churches in the Mississippi Delta as interim pastor. I cannot imagine any church asking me to preach and then “asking” me to come again! I can’t even imagine what my sermons must have been like! Linda was too sweet to tell me. I would preach on Sunday morning, we would stay in the home of a member for lunch and then we would drive back late at night to Mississippi College after I preached the evening service.
In 1967, Our first child, Michelle, was born during college days. Our son, Tom was born 5 years later when I was pastor at Toomsuba Baptist Church, Toomsuba, MS. While serving Toomsuba Baptist Church, they allowed me to complete college and also attend New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. My next church was FBC Sharon, Laurel, MS. While there, I went back to seminary to earn my Master in Religious Education (MRE) degree. I served as minister of education in Natchez, MS and then went back to our home town and served 17 years as minister of education at Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church in Meridian. I then served 8 years at Heritage Hills Baptist Church in GA before retiring in 2012, when I began cancer treatment.
Linda graduated from Mississippi State University and taught elementary school for 19 years. After serving as a pastor for 17 years, I served as minister of education for 25 years, a total of 42 years of ministry. God has blessed us over all these years and we still have dear friends in former churches.
My 17 years as a pastor: During those 17 years I served 3 churches. I learned that some churches treat their pastors differently. Some expect him to be like the pastor that just left. I did learn that the best pastor in the world is the one that has been gone 3 months! I had great ministries in the churches I served as pastor and I was allowed to complete my college and seminary education.
My 25 years as a minister of education: My last 25 years of ministry was among 3 churches. First I served a church in Natchez for three years and then went back to my hometown, Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church in Meridian where I served 17 years. My final years were spent in Conyers, GA. After serving the church for 8 years, I got cancer and had to retire, the church was very gracious to me and paid my full salary and insurance for months while I began cancer treatment.