Since about September Matt has been preaching on Sunday mornings in Turner's Station, Kentucky. I really wish I had pictures to help you imagine this amazing little place. It's in the country off of winding wooded roads. The entire city is comprised of one main street with an old post office that is now someone's home. The city also has a two story old brick bank building that closed about 20 years ago, we were told. There's a Christian church right down the road, but I always mistook it for an old school house - it has a bell out front. We've since seen the school house where most of the church members attended in a two-room style of education. Now it's also a house and has unfortunately lost a bit of the charm it probably had in its plainer days. I was trying to estimate the population and did a quick Google search, they claim 1,200 people... totally astonishing to me. I'm not sure I really believe it. If that's true there must be a lot of them who live quiet lives alone on their secluded and self-sufficient farms, never venturing out - because we rarely see a car pass us as we make the drive. Oh yes, this is important, Turner's Station used to be a railroad stop making it a bigger city then. The train still passes through often and we hear it. The townspeople become concerned with the way the railroad company cares for the tracks and the noise they make as they work on them.
We've been blessed deeply by our time there, and look forward to continuing ministry in such a quaint and welcoming place. On average there are about 12-15 in attendance each Sunday for church... imagine that! Really, it's true, and it's probably not like anything else you've experienced before... I haven't anyway. Church begins with "announcements" usually entailing a weather report and praise to the Lord for His goodness in spite of the weather. We sing together as the piano is played. We listen to CD's for our "special music". Matt shares two Scripture readings as preaches from the Word. He's been preaching through the Gospel of Matthew. Pray for him, this week he's preaching from Matthew 12:22... the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit - expository preaching bring challenges to those who preach no doubt.
Our Sunday School class is held before church, in the back of the sanctuary behind some old wood panel partitions. Then we hear the great wisdom of the most faithful people we've ever met. That's a big claim I realize, but Matt and I both agree. We've heard a woman in the midst of breast cancer say, "Well don't we know He won't do anything to hurt us. We should just trust Him." I've watched her husband grimace in shock as Matt explained that the response of some to the earthquake in Haiti was to ask why God would cause such evil. It was clear that this man had never before considered the like of those thoughts. His response to his wife's suffering through cancer, "Why not us?" They often remind us, and rightly so, that the Bible seems to be pretty "plain" about lots of things. They don't struggle with the complications that theologians almost invent it seems. Rather, their faith is as simple as a child's but as deep and full of perseverance as I've ever seen. Matt has asked on many occasions some hard questions of the faith through Sunday School as challenging passages have come up. Their answers are always clear and direct, never becoming distracted by the secular thinking of so many. They discuss History channel specials about Biblical topics in which the producers mock the truth of Biblical claims, events, etc. To our friends in Turner's Station, they say it takes more faith to believe the outrageous stories and claims made by those on TV than to trust the Bible's straight-forward reality. They've never tried to squirm away from Truth, even difficult Truth. When we discussed sin nature as explained in Psalm 51, some struggled to imagine their infant grandchildren as sinners. As Matt pointed out the Word in various passages and explained the significance of original sin we saw hearts instantly believing God for the Truth He was revealing... not fighting it, not denying it out of inconvenience or a desire to pick-and-choose the easiest theologies.
They lean on the Word and know the Lord in their daily lives. They are such a blessing and source of great wisdom.
There are more great stories about the time-warp it seem like we take as we drive each Sunday from the "city" to the "country" as they call it. There are parts of life I've never known that they commonly experience. I'll have to keep updating with more soon, this is already long I think.