Oak Grove Baptist Church, Grapeland
By Greg Ritchie
The Messenger continues its Sunday Sitdown reports where we speak with our local pastors, educators, businesspeople, students and interesting people of all walks of life in Houston County. To see the full video interview, click on the link below!
When did you first feel the calling to become a preacher?
“It was a process. I was saved as a young teenager and my dad had been a pastor since I was six or seven, but I never thought I would be a preacher. That was just never anything that was on my mind. As I got to my late 20’s, I started trying to get serious about my relationship with God. I started teaching Sunday School, ordained as a deacon, because I started growing in my walk with the Lord. I then began to have these thoughts, ‘Maybe God is putting a call on me to preach but I ignored that for a long time. Probably when I was 35-36, I really began to feel the call. Our interim pastor at the time, Glen Taylor, a good friend of mine – I think he knew I was struggling with it. He told me, ‘When God has a call on your life, there will be three witnesses to help confirm the call. The first is God’s Word, the Bible, calls all who are willing. The second is the Holy Spirit, as through the conviction and God’s personal call on your life you begin to feel that and the third is God’s people. He will use people around you to see that calling on your life and speak to you about it.’ And I could see those three things. By the time I made the decision, I had perfect peace about it and I knew that’s what He wanted me to do.”
What has been the most difficult part of being a preacher?
“I find ministering like anything else – you go through seasons. What’s difficult today might not be so difficult tomorrow. It changes with time. But for me, I work full time. I have a wife and a family and I am also a pastor. It’s a challenge trying to find the right balance in time. A lot of times during the week when I am at work, there’s church stuff I would like to be taking care of, but I can’t, so church stuff gets taken care of in the evenings and a lot of Saturdays when I prepare messages. I think that’s a big part of it for me is just finding that balance of time for all the different responsibilities and commitments and time to rest, too.”
What do you think God wants from each of us?
“I think there are a lot of correct answers to that question. The way I look at it, if you want to run a race, you have to start at the beginning. And if we go to God’s word, King Solomon says to fear God and keep His commandments is the whole duty of man. So when Jesus came on the scene, He gave us two commandments to keep and said to love God with all of your being and love each other. And so if we really look at what God wants from us, I truly believe it’s whenever we see the love He has for us. He displayed that through Jesus Christ on the cross; and we accept Christ and we accept His love. Then, He begins to change our heart to where we want to have a relationship with Him and love Him. And then we can truly love others because it all goes back to love. The whole thread of Scripture is built on love.”
What is your favorite story or passage from the Bible?
“It changes, depending on what’s going on with life. There are different scriptures that speak to you – ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ That’s obviously one we can always look at but one I find myself quoting a lot when I preach. Romans 5:8 that says, ‘God proved His love to us and we were yet sinners.’ Christ died for us. And I just love that verse because it speaks to somebody that maybe struggles with the question, ‘Can God truly love me because of who I am and what I’ve done?’ That verse tells us even in our worst – because of his love for us – Christ died for us. That verse says God doesn’t care about your past. He cares about your future and the future He wants you to have with Him in eternal life. So even while we were yet sinners, He showed us his love in Christ dying for us.”
Oak Grove Baptist Church meets every Sunday for Sunday School at 9:30 a.m. and worship at 10:30 a.m. Visit the church online at www.oakgrovegrapeland.com or in person at 1442 F.M. 2968 in Grapeland.
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]