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Chapter 13: Humming "I Surrender All" (In the Key of D)

 

Sparwars at WhitesburgBIRDIE –
Year three, first church.
By now we had established an annual teen event called: SPARWARS!

REBECCA –
Vernard, a church deacon, taught karate so we built an event which culminated in a big karate feat.

BIRDIE –
Vernard laid his head on one chair and his heels on another. James, another friend, laid concrete slabs on his unsupported middle section and set them on fire. Then James busted the concrete on Vernard’s chest with a sledge hammer!

BIRDIE –
Now what teen wouldn’t love that?

 

 

Vernard at WhitesburgVernard: This dear friend was killed at age 34 when a helicopter he was piloting crashed in 1993.

BIRDIE –
All of us were in Vernard’s karate class. Rebecca and I earned a brown belt!

REBECCA –
I hated every minute of karate. I like hitting and kicking people but then I prefer to run - not stand and dodge while they hit and kick at me.

BIRDIE –
Rebecca started a great singles ministry.

singles
singles
singles
singles

Singles at Whitesburg

This ministry helped hold on to the precious youth when they graduated.

whitesburg youth graduates

REBECCA –
The youth team was called SONDAZE.
Touring the youth every summer got us out of the confines of the church building and into reaching a secular audience.

sondaze 1986

whitesburg youth
sondaze
whitesburg youth
whitesburg sondaze

whitesburg youth team

We developed a point system whereby the teens earned rank and privileges on tour.

BIRDIE –
The top ten point earners never had work duty on tour. The last rankers took bathroom clean up ...

REBECCA –
And that wasn’t pretty!
Youth earned points for anything that added SPIRITUAL value to themselves, their church or their community. Bible study, church attendance, bringing their friends to church ...

BIRDIE –
...Not just our church.
Highest points were earned for bringing non-Christians.

REBECCA –
After becoming a Christian, Lynda asked her non-Christian mom, Kyra, to come to a revival service. Kyra refused until Lynda said, “But mom, look how many points I get if you come!”

whitesburg kyraBIRDIE –
That night Kyra surrendered her life to Jesus!

REBECCA –
Kyra became a right arm to Birdie and me.

BIRDIE –
It took an accountant to keep all the records and a network of leaders.

whitesburg youthteam helpers

REBECCA –
Everything at the church was on the rise.

BIRDIE –
Then one Sunday – rumors swept through the church. There were “strangers” in the sanctuary - a Pastor Search Committee.

REBECCA –
No one listened to the sermon that day. We were all giving the stank-eye to those incognito visitors. We hoped this fiery man-of-God might mess up that day.

BIRDIE –
But he didn’t. And Pastor Joe and Tessie accepted a call to pastor Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC.

Charlotte Observer articleWhen Pastor Joe and Tessie left for Charlotte, the church they were moving to was about the same size as our church. But under Pastor Joe's leadership, it became a mega-church, the largest Southern Baptist church in the Carolinas. This article appeared in the Charlotte Observer a year and a half after Pastor Joe moved to Hickory Grove Baptist Church, documenting the growth the church was experiencing.

REBECCA –
I thought we would die the day they left.

BIRDIE –
Thus began the “interim” period as the church began searching for a new pastor.

REBECCA –
One of my favorite interim stories:

An aged preacher was filling the pulpit. The congregation was resting peacefully. Birdie had to stay awake so the choir knew when to sing next.

BIRDIE –
I have a low, alto voice. But on this day when that sweet, old preacher got to the end of the sermon he announced:

“Every head bowed as Yvonne HUMS the beloved hymn, ‘I Surrender All.'”

REBECCA –
That woke me up!

BIRDIE –
I raised my head and said aloud: “Did you say hum?!”

People! That hymn is in the key of D!
....But I hummed!
And I could hear Rebecca and that traitorous choir, heads bowed, snickering behind me!

REBECCA –
We went a year without a pastor.

BIRDIE –
Which brings us to my favorite interim story.
Finally the committee invited a prospective pastor. He kept the whole congregation waiting in the fellowship hall while he interviewed us!

After small talk he casually asked, “So, do either of you feel called to preach?”
We assured him that he had nothing to fear.

REBECCA –
More questions.
We were getting anxious about the congregation waiting.
Then, a second time, he asked if either of us felt called to preach.
Cordially, we answered, “No.”

But he kept on...and on...

BIRDIE –
I soon forgot about the congregation because Rebecca was slipping into her “You’re getting on my last nerve” state-of-mind.
Then, he said it again.
“Are you certain that neither of you, as women, feel called to preach?”

REBECCA –
“Sir! We already answered that question. But let me assure you. If either of us felt like GOD called us to preach, we would preach WITH ALL OUR HEARTS!”

BIRDIE –
There was silence.

REBECCA –
The church didn’t hire him. ...I guess he left them standing too long.

BIRDIE –
A few months later he called and asked us to come as his church staff.

REBECCA –
I don’t know...
Maybe it wasn’t him who was asking.
Maybe it was God.

BIRDIE –
And maybe HOW Rebecca answered was all God needed to hear.

REBECCA –
God knew if Birdie and I were going to make it in the calling he had ahead for us we were going to have to be willing to hum “I Surrender All”...

BIRDIE –
...even if it was in the key of D.

whitesburg youthteam 1986 sondaze

whitesburg youth
sondaze
whitesburg sondaze

whitesburg singles 024

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Chapter 14: How Do You Know When God Speaks?
Chapter 12: The Footprints of God


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