Tonight I concluded speaking seven times in a revival at the Johnson Grove Church of Christ, near Brookhaven, Mississippi. I spoke four times Sunday, although one of them was to a smaller group of a dozen hurting souls about their journey through grief.
My first association with Johnson Grove was during the time I worked for Magnolia Bible College. I came down to JGCOC once a month to preach. To my best recollection that was 1988-1989. The longtime minister for the church was Wendell Davis … and I was glad to see him and talk to him this week. Following Wendell’s tenure at JG was my friend Otis Bowman and nowadays my friend Doug Kimble. The youth minister is Ben Huey and I really enjoyed getting to know he and Allison and their children.
The collection of old friends to be found at Johnson Grove is interesting. I met Otis many years ago. I’m not sure how old Doug was when I first met him, maybe he was a teenager. Jeff Frank is a deacon at Johnson Grove and I met him back in the late 1980s when he was still in high school. Jeff Posey is also a deacon at the church and I met him when he was a student at Delta State and I was the Campus Minister … his wife as well. I’m probably leaving some out but there seem to be a lot of connections here.
I arrived with tendonitis in my right knee and have spent the week hobbling around like a peg-leg pirate, but other than that it has been completely delightful. I was envious of a spacious new fellowship area that they have recently completed and which we enjoyed several times! Maggy and I enjoyed so many good conversations with old friends and making new ones. She came away with several new recipes, and believe me these ladies can cook at Johnson Grove!
One might not suspect that a church of Christ located out in the country from a small town in South Mississippi would gather with about two hundred souls on Sundays. As an outsider, here are my thoughts about why Johnson Grove has grown and thrived.
~ Qualities of A Welcoming Church ~
*A Positive Spirit. The tone of the church is not one of disapproval and beating up on Christians. It is an encouraging and positive place to be, filled with happy people.
*A Heritage of Singing. From my first visit with them many years ago I knew this to be a church where good singing held a central place. They have many capable song leaders and sing a blend of new and traditional hymns. They really sing out loud too!
*An Emphasis on Love. They spend a lot of time together, and the investment in an excellent new fellowship hall lets all know that they enjoy eating and talking together.
*A Focus on Youth. Their youth minister and his family are leading a group of 20-30 teenagers. They are all friendly and I enjoyed talking to them some.
*A Willingness To Volunteer. If you are observant you will see several people jumping into action to meet the needs of others. From some awesome cooks to those who were cleaning off tables, everyone was ready to pitch in.
*A Leadership of Mixed Ages that Gets Along Well.
I’m sure there are many other great qualities, but I just enjoyed preaching the Word to them; receiving encouragement from them. Prayer was also an important part of this meeting and I’m thankful for a group of about ten prayerful people who, through text, I knew were praying for me at 7:00 nightly. In the moments before I would get up to preach I would think about those prayers and I believe they helped me. Thanks, friends!
I’m looking forward to getting back to my Forsythe Family, but it was good to be here this week. I was blessed tremendously. The Spirit of the Lord is at work in this place.
I invite any of my new Johnson Grove church friends to check out Forsythe’s web page, where I post our sermon notes and audio. It’s located HERE.
Thanks for reading, JD.