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July 26, 2005

Salvation for a Young Preacher

I received an email from a friend of mine asking me to send him a true story from my life. This is the story.

I was serving my first appointment as the pastor of the Statesboro Circuit. The Circuit consisted of four congregations. The four churches were Charlestown, Springhead and Goloid all located in Screven County and one in Statesboro, Brannen Chapel. Willie Edward Benton was the charge Lay Leader and the charge Pastor/Parish Relations Chair. Benton called me one morning in about my second month of serving the Charge and invited me to lunch, but he was coming by about 9:00 am to pick me up. Well, sure enough about nine he showed up and off we went. He said to me, “Rev. Swanson, I thought it would be good for me to show you around Screven County so you would know how to get around.” I think I might have mumbled something, “Sure.”

We began our tour of about a five mile radius of the three churches and along the way he would point out a house and say, “Now, Mr. & Mrs. Hunter live there. Doug Daniel lives there. The Williams family they live back up in there.” He would add as we passed some homes, “Now, Rev. they haven’t been to church in some time. The man who lives in that house has been sick for a while now and I can’t recall the last time someone served him and his wife communion. This guy has a good job but he never gives to the church. This family stopped coming to the church when we had a split several years ago and now they don’t go to any church at all. The lady that lives there is not a member of our church she is a member of the Baptist church but in times past attended our church every third Sunday. I wonder why she doesn’t come anymore.”

Now, this went on for about an hour and finally, I asked him, “Bro. Benton, are you trying to tell me something?” He stopped the truck and looked at me and said with a curious look in his eye, “Why, Rev. Swanson you are the pastor. I wouldn’t dare try to tell you how to do your job. Now, if you saw something that is stirring in you then maybe you need to let the Lord tell you what to do.” And with that, he headed back to Statesboro and we went to Kentucky Fried Chicken and had lunch together. But, when he dropped me back off at my home I got in my car and did some visiting in those two counties. And for his visit that day I am eternally grateful.

Now, the beautiful part of this story was that Willie Benton went on to be with the Lord in a little more than two years after this. I say it was beautiful because he left a part of him with me and therefore as long as I live he lives and if this story blesses you then he will continue to live. By the way he was only 42 years old when he died.

Posted by Bishop at July 26, 2005 09:51 AM