One week of adventure traversing the great state of Texas has taught me something about our Texas District: Every ministry is a story of the Gospel; every person can be Jesus’ story of grace.
My visits reminded me of the faith “hall of fame” in Hebrews chapter 11: “And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.” Hebrews 11:32–34
Like the writer of the book of Hebrews, I can only name a few of the “great cloud of witnesses” that fill our precious district. In San Angelo, I saw how a courageous congregation bought a YMCA and kept adding buildings so the children of the community could be blessed by education and care that centered on Jesus and his love. In Midland, I was introduced to “Bibleville,” a colorful and welcoming children’s ministry space that bore witness to a self-sacrificial group of Christ-followers investing in new generations.
I met bi-vocational pastors who use every waking hour to bring the living Word of God to congregations and communities. Then there were the multi-point parish pastors who love the people and wouldn’t think of leaving them without an equipper, shepherd and friend. Three pastors were covering ten congregations and a preaching station! Sounds like the “traditionally aggressive” LCMS I know and give thanks for.
I heard about a young girl named Jillian who listened to God’s call and moved from West Texas to Uganda to teach and bless deaf children there.
Then there were the ESL classes and the new church plants and new Evangelists and vibrant community outreach. Heroes of faith!
I witnessed the gifts of God’s people courageously being harnessed to overcome the world’s influence, to lift up the broken and outcast, to share the promises of God, and to close the “lion’s mouths” of hopelessness and anxiety. I was privileged to experience schools and churches that quench the fire of a meaningless present and eternity.
This is our Texas District. These are the servants of God who speak the truth in love. These are our colleagues and partners in mission and ministry. They are shining lights of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This week, there will be more stories to tell!
By Rev. Michael Newman
Texas District President