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CENTRAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN HUNTSVILLE, AL

CENTRAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN HUNTSVILLE, AL

 

Another stop during our historical church tour was a quick stop in Huntsville, AL which brought my wife and me to Central Evangelical Presbyterian Church for lunch with Pastor Dr. Randall Jenkins. Randy was born near Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.  He attended colleges in Indiana and Pennsylvania, and received his undergraduate degree from Washington and Jefferson College.  After working with Youth for Christ for several years he attended Pittsburgh Theological Seminary where he received his Master of Divinity degree. He received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Reformed Theological Seminary at the Charlotte, North Carolina campus in May 2004.  Randy was the Pastor at the Bethany Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, North Carolina for several years before coming to Central Presbyterian Church. He and his wife, Judy, have three daughters, Leah, Grace, and Abby.CAM00280

Unfortunately we did not have much time to spend with Randy but we did manage to get in a quick tour of his church after lunch. A block from the downtown square, Central is one of two downtown Presbyterian churches, being not more than a block from each other. It is a fascinating church building with an unusual sanctuary and beautiful stained glass windows. While we did not have much time to visit, our time together prompted me to study their website where I learned much about this pastor, this congregation and this church that has a colorful past, a dynamic present community involvement and a future vision for their church and for the city where they serve.

EARLY BEGINNINGS*

Huntsville became the first incorporated town in Alabama in 1811. However, the recognized “birth” year of the city is 1805, the year of John Hunt’s arrival. In 1819, Huntsville hosted a constitutional convention in Walker Allen’s large cabinet making shop. The 44 delegates meeting there wrote a constitution for the new state of Alabama. But even before that constitution was penned, the foundation for Central Presbyterian Church had already been laid as the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church, organized on February 4, 1810.

CAM00279In 1828, the first church building, a white frame structure, was erected on the east side of Greene Street between Holmes and Walker Streets. In 1845 the congregation moved to a new church building, believed to have been designed by George Steele, on the corner of Lincoln and Randolph Streets and after 9 years completed a one room square Sanctuary. The building was completed in 1854 and dedicated by the Rev. Robert K. Donnell, the man to whom the Presbyterian Church owes her success in North Alabama.

It was a handsome, one room Doric structure which included a slave balcony and had no basement. The brick building included four immense Corinthian columns on the front, supporting a heavy porch top. A large cupola on the roof housed the church bell.

THEN CAME THE WAR

On the morning of April 11, 1862, Union troops led by General Ormsby M. Mitchel seized Huntsville to sever the Confederacy’s rail communications. The Union troops were forced to retreat some months later, but returned to Huntsville in the fall of 1863 and thereafter used the city as a base of operations for the remainder of the war. While many homes and villages in the surrounding countryside were burned in retaliation for the active guerrilla warfare in the area, Huntsville itself was spared because it housed elements of the Union Army. (Wikipedia)

THE CHURCH MOVED ON

Despite the war, the 1845 building was in good condition when it was razed in 1899 to make room for a larger building. When the razing began on April 30, 1899, the plan was to purchase the adjacent property on Lincoln Street. Since the owners would not sell, the church was designed to fit the property already owned. For that reason, the building was designed high rather than wide and flat. The same architect who designed the building designed the Jewish Synagogue farther down Lincoln Street. The Rev. Joseph W. Caldwell laid the cornerstone and later dedicated the Sanctuary.

Central 03Bricks from the old building were used to build the lower wall of the present church. The Romanesque Revival Sanctuary is octagon in shape. The beautiful stained glass windows are irreplaceable and have been a source of beauty and inspiration for many. They were created by a Bavarian artist that was seeking a church to demonstrate his artistic ability at the same time the church was being built.

In 1957, the Education Wing was constructed to accommodate the influx of new people in Huntsville. Adjacent properties were finally purchased and a courtyard, playground and parking lot were built.

AND CONTINUES TO MOVE

In 1991, the Freeman House at 205 Lincoln Street was purchased for offices and more parking. In 1996, the congregation fulfilled its vision of restoring the house and using it for the glory of God. This historic and gracious house provides the setting for the Hawthorne Conservatory of Music (see below).

In January of 2001 the church purchased the Cooper House, across the street from the church building. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places on January 4, 1973, Cooper House is one of the oldest homes in the Twickenham Historical District. The Cooper House, said to be one of the few antebellum structures of frame construction to survive the Civil War, suited Central’s need for expanded parking, office space and storage. The building needed extensive renovations, which required approval of the Huntsville/Madison County Historical Society. The Historical Society would not allow the church to demolish the home and build a new, larger structure, but they did allow the back porch to be built into additional space. Now called the Family Life Center, the renovated Cooper House fits the church’s vision for additional outreach and new ministry, while preserving the integrity of the historical structure. The beautiful old home was completely restored to accommodate a new Fellowship Hall and kitchen facilities. It is not only used by the church but is available for many community and private events as well.

DENOMINATION AFFILIATIONS and DISAFFILIATIONS

Originating in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the church and denomination reunited in May 1906 with the Presbyterian Church, USA, to become the United Presbyterian Church of North America. In 1958 the Presbyterian Church, USA, united with the United Presbyterian Church of North America, forming the United Presbyterian Church in the USA. And on June 10, 1983, the United Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Presbyterian Church, US, reunited to form the Presbyterian Church (USA), and they were affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) until 2007, when Central left this affiliation.

The church disaffiliation started by first filing a lawsuit asking that the church, not the PC(USA), be declared owner of the congregation’s property. They later followed-up with a congregational meeting to bring the issue to disaffiliate with the denomination to the church members.

The telling of the PC(USA) departure (in part) was related by The Layman Online:

“Central Presbyterian Church in Huntsville, Ala., which recently filed a lawsuit seeking to be declared owner of its property, has voted to disaffiliate from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and align with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

North Alabama Presbytery, however, said the congregational meeting where the vote took place was “improperly called” and has authorized an administrative commission to assume “original jurisdiction” of the church by dismissing the pastor and session.

Central Presbyterian’s pastor, the Rev. Dr. Randy Jenkins, said 142 people voted for disaffiliation at a congregational meeting following worship services March 11. There also were nine “letters of intent,” he said, signed by congregation members who could not be present. The church has about 265 members by Jenkins’ estimation.”

There were some peculiar charges and moves by the Presbytery in regards to a supposedly “improperly called” meeting, to the point of threatening Pastor Jenkins with removal and intent to dissolve the Session. Indeed, the Presbytery did declare the Session dissolved and ordered the trustees of the church to dismiss the property lawsuit. But Jenkins avoided the presbytery action by renouncing his PC(USA) ordination before they could act and the trustees ignored the threatened takeover of the administration of the church. The Presbytery seemed primarily concerned about property issues while the church was concerned about that AND theological issues. The church declared the split with the PC(USA) was because of longstanding doctrinal difference, disagreement with the direction (theologically and structurally) the denomination was taking, and because the PC(USA) believed that it was the owner of their property rather than the corporation made up of the members of the church. Eventually the lawsuit was settled letting Central leave PC(USA) with property for $250,000 in various payments. In exchange for the payments, the agreement stated, “The presbytery shall quit claim all its right, title and interest in and to any real or personal property, and any present or future interest therein, now or hereafter claimed by Central Presbyterian.” The presbytery also agrees to dismiss the church “to a presbytery of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, or another Reformed body, with any and all real and personal property.”

A COMMUNITY CHURCH

Central Evangelical Presbyterian Church has a long history of being a church that presents the Word of God, cares for one another, puts its money where its priorities are (they have a very high percentage of their budget devoted to missions), and impacts the community through outreach, including an unusual outreach of the Hawthorne Music Conservatory.Central 02

The Hawthorne Conservatory is a unique music ministry of Central EPC. Located in the historic Freeman House in downtown Huntsville, the school offers quality music instruction in a safe and inspiring atmosphere to students of any age, especially those who cannot afford music lessons or instruments. In addition to private lessons, they offer enrichment programming, which consists of specialty group classes and seasonal camps. They also take music into the community, particularly places where music education & enrichment is not easily accessible or affordable. (From the website)

MOVING INTO THE FUTURE

Central Presbyterian Church continues to reach outside of their walls to those men and women who are unchurched and offer a venue and ministry that will touch their hearts with the love of Christ. Their impact on and for the community, and for the kingdom of God, is a great testimony. The church and members generously offer their hearts and their facilities to fulfill community needs so they can utilize their physical assets seven days a week.

Today the church reports just over 300 members. I am glad that the Lord led Central Presbyterian Church leadership and congregation to the EPC. We are blessed to have them among our family of churches. I look forward to a future Sunday when I can visit Central EPC again and worship with the congregation and get to know the church and her people a bit better. If you find yourself in the Huntsville area some weekend, I encourage you to visit them at 406 Randolph Avenue, Huntsville, AL 35801.

*Much of the church history is from the Central EPC website

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2015 in Historical Places, Travels

 

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NEPAL: QUAKE AID IS NEEDED

NEPAL: QUAKE AID IS NEEDED

I interrupt my Historical Church series to bring you an urgent story for TODAY’s GLOBAL CHURCH needs.

2015_Nepal_earthquake_ShakeMap_version_6As you must know, Nepal has suffered an earthquake that has killed thousands, injured many more and destroyed entire villages and communities, including Christian churches. According to the latest Wikipedia report, the 2015 Nepal earthquake occurred at 11:56 NST on April 25, with a magnitude of 7.8 or 8.1 and a maximum Mercalli Intensity (see graph to right) of IX which is violent. Its epicenter was the village of Barpak, Gorkha district, and its hypocenter was at a depth of approximately 9.3 mi. The quake was the most powerful disaster to strike Nepal since the 1934 Nepal-Bihar earthquake.

Continued aftershocks occurred throughout Nepal within 15-20 minute intervals, with one shock reaching a magnitude of 6.7 on April 26 at 12:54 NST. The country also has a continued risk of landslides.

LIVES HAVE BEEN LOST

In Nepal the earthquake killed more than 7,500 and injured more than twice as many, as of 1 May 2015. Nepal’s Prime Minister, Sushil Koirala, has said that the number could reach 10,000. The rural death toll may have been lower than it could have been as villagers were outdoors working when the quake hit.

The Himalayan Times reported that as many as 20,000 foreign nationals may have been visiting Nepal at the time of the earthquake, although reports of foreign deaths were relatively low. Hundreds of people are still considered missing and more than 450,000 are displaced.

A total of 78 deaths were reported in India – 58 in Bihar, 16 in Uttar Pradesh, 3 in West Bengal and 1 in Rajasthan.

Some casualties were also reported in the adjoining areas of China, and Bangladesh.

AVALANCHES ON MOUNT EVEREST

This earthquake caused many avalanches on Mount Everest. At least 19 climbers died, with others injured or missing, making it the deadliest day on the mountain in history. It triggered another huge avalanche in Langtang valley, where 250 were reported missing.

CITIES AND VILLAGES DESTROYED

Hundreds of thousands of houses were destroyed across many districts of the country, with entire villages flattened, especially those near the epicenter. The Tribhuvan International Airport serving Kathmandu was closed immediately after the quake, but was re-opened later in the day for relief operations and, later, for some commercial flights. It subsequently shut down operations sporadically due to aftershocks, and on May 3 was closed temporarily to the largest planes for fear of runway damage. Many workers were not at their posts, either from becoming earthquake casualties or because they were dealing with its after effects. Flights resumed from Pokhara, to the west of the epicenter, on April 27.

Reports from Christian websites reported that some church buildings fell onto the heads of congregations while they were praying, leaving at least 500 Christians dead. Several of the 400 churches in the Kathmandu valley were wiped out.

Hundreds of thousands of people were made homeless with entire villages flattened, across many districts of the country. Centuries-old buildings were destroyed in the Kathmandu Valley, including some at the Kathmandu Durbar Square, the Patan Durbar Square and the Bhaktapur Durbar Square.

ECONOMIC EFFECTS

Concern was expressed that harvests could be reduced or lost this season as people affected by the earthquake would have only a short time to plant crops before the onset of the Monsoon rains.

Nepal, with a total Gross Domestic Product of USD$19.921 billion (according to a 2012 estimate), is one of Asia’s poorest countries, and has little ability to fund a major reconstruction effort on its own. The U.S. Geological Survey initially estimated economic losses from the temblor at 9 percent to 50 percent of gross domestic product, with a best guess of 35 percent. “It’s too hard for now to tell the extent of the damage and the effect on Nepal’s GDP”, according to Hun Kim, an Asian Development Bank (ADB) official.

FROM OUR FRIENDS ON THE GROUND

Friends in Southeast Asia that, for security reasons, need to be unnamed, have sent a couple of recent reports about what they are hearing and seeing.

“Friends,

We don’t live far from Nepal. Our city is about 200 kilometers south of Kathmandu. You undoubtedly know about the recent destruction in Kathmandu due to the earthquakes that happened there this past weekend.

We’ve felt those tremors and aftershocks here. Many people in our city have been terrified and run outside when things start shaking. Quite a few people have even chosen to sleep in the huge central square of our city. Other than a couple of cracks in the outside of our mall (and a few little ones in our office), we aren’t aware of any damage in our city. In the northern part of our state, closer to the Nepal border, there have been quite a number of deaths and reports of some damage. But none of this compares to the pictures that we are seeing in our newspapers and on TV news of the damage in Kathmandu and other parts of Nepal.

Our organization has had folks working in Nepal for a number of years. In fact, just last week, two Nepali guys were here in our city to lead some training in using ethnic music styles as a way to communicate in oral cultures. Those guys, S and D, are reporting on great needs in their home areas in Nepal.”

And again on May 1, 2015, they wrote:

 “Dear Friends,

We’ll catch up on some of what has been going on here. This past weekend was interesting. We’re about 200 miles due south of Kathmandu. Of course, Kathmandu has been featured in global news lately. The earthquakes that have happened up there and destroyed much of that city, have been felt here…there was a big one and a number of aftershocks. The fact that the first big earthquake came when the weather was unusually stormy for this time of year…dark clouds, heavy winds, and some rain… that gave the whole day a rather apocalyptic feeling. The earthquake occurred when M and J were on their way home after dropping friends at the airport. Seeing everyone out on the street, some running, many looking up to the sky, made J check as well to see if Jesus was coming with a shout…. We can’t imagine what it has been like 200 miles north of here, except for what we see on the news, but knowing how frightened people have been here the last few days and how unsettled we’ve felt, gives us some insights. Fortunately, our state was spared major destruction. There have been dozens of deaths in our state but, of course, the real story has been in Nepal.”

We also have friends in South Asia, J and M. On 5/1/16 they wrote of their experience:

“As many of you must have heard, there was a terrifying earthquake in Nepal. We are less than 200 miles from Kathmandu and felt it strongly on Saturday. I was sitting in our 3rd floor apartment building when I felt the couch jiggling. After a couple of seconds I realized our entire building was swaying. I ran out into the hallway barefooted and fled down the stairs with other neighbors. Others were running up the stairs screaming for their children with terror on their faces. I was picturing our concrete building crumbling down, but it wasn’t bad enough for that to happen. About one minute after gathering outside, a lightning thunderstorm with dark clouds passed over and soaked us. It felt like, ‘wow, our lives seem completely out of our control’. I experienced dizziness and being off-balance the rest of the day. Superstition was strong among our neighbors and our landlord: they believed the moon had turned upside down and had moved from one part of the sky to another.

Several buildings were damaged in our city but nothing too terrible. Our office has several large cracks. There were a few dozen reported deaths in our state to the north of us, but obviously Nepal is where the real horror is. We have several connections there through ministry partners: Many people will be suffering for a long time from this. We pray for the light of the glory of God to shine through the wounds.”

AID THROUGH THE EPC AND FRIENDS

In the wake of the devastating earthquake, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church is recommending World Relief and One Challenge (OC International Ministries) as relief agencies to which donations can be sent. OC International has been a co-op agency with the EPC for many years and has a significant presence in Nepal. Jeff Jeremiah, Stated Clerk expressed:

“It is hard to comprehend the level of destruction and need. Ministries in Nepal—like One Challenge—that desperately want to minister to their neighbors are themselves suffering from the destruction and lack of basic resources.”

GIVING BY WEB

Churches and individuals can donate via websites to relief efforts in any of three ways:

Donate directly to World Relief

Give directly to One Challenge

Give to World Relief via the EPC

GIVING BY MAIL

You can also help by sending a check payable to Evangelical Presbyterian Church and designated World Relief; send to:

Evangelical Presbyterian Church   •   17197 N. Laurel Park Dr., Suite 567   •   Livonia, MI 48152

WON’T YOU PLEASE HELP?

There are thousands (including fellow Christians) in need and we can’t leave it to the secular world or governments to do our calling as Christians. You certainly don’t have to be a part of the EPC to help through these channels!

And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful. Titus 3:14

We need to show Jesus to the people of Nepal and to the world.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36

Blessings, Dan

Photo: “2015 Nepal depremi (3)” by Hilmi Hacaloğlu – http://www.amerikaninsesi.com/media/photogallery/2739517.html. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2015_Nepal_depremi_(3).jpg#/media/File:2015_Nepal_depremi_(3).jpg

@WorldRelief   @OneChallengeInt @EPChurch #NepalEarthquake #NepalQuake

 
 

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SILER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH NEAR CHARLOTTE, NC

SILER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH NEAR CHARLOTTE, NC

Continuing my trail of Evangelical Presbyterian Churches introduced in Discoveries of the Past on March 11, I come to a church just outside of Charlotte, NC. This stop along the way during that “EPC church tour” was Siler Presbyterian Church (EPC) in Wesley Chapel, NC. My wife and I had a nice Italian dinner with Pastor Bruce Powell and his wife, Carrie, on Saturday night, and then worshipped with the congregation on Sunday morning. Bruce has been serving SPC for almost 23 years as their shepherd and pastor. It was obvious during our visit that he is well-loved by the congregation. It was indeed a pleasure to worship in this historic church which has an active membership of around 450 members. On Sunday morning, Bruce gave me a few minutes to bring greetings to the congregation and give a brief explanation about our new ministry. I received a lot of encouragement from members after the service. Pastor Bruce shared a message from Genesis 50:15-26 entitled “God Meant Good.” This sermon was the first of a series of characters in the Bible, first pointing to Moses. Bruce preached with conviction, not shying away from naming sin as sin, but also giving God the praise to be able to use evil for good in His Kingdom work. He is a real gift, not only to his church but also to the EPC. Before worship service we attended a Sunday school class and after worship we were invited to a church lunch to celebrate the new members of the church. Altogether, we had a wonderful visit with Bruce, Carrie and all of the SPC congregation.CAM00271

The church is committed to reaching the local community as they send and support many community activities. Achievement of this is measured by their ability to 1) reach the community, 2) provide hands-on experience to the members of the congregation including families and youth, and 3) provide board members to local organizations when appropriate. The church is involved in a range of activities from food and clothing collections, the Angel Tree Ministry, blood drives, Habitat for Humanity, Scouts …the list goes on!

I was also happy to learn that the Siler congregation is active in world missions, supporting several families who serve the Lord internationally, with both prayer and monetary support. Among the missionaries they support is one of our EPC World Outreach missionary teams that is serving in Central Asia. They also regularly send church mission teams to Guatemala and the Philippines.

A LONG HISTORY

Siler EPC was organized in Sandy Ridge Township, Union County, North Carolina, on October 29, 1895. Rev. J. W. Siler, Pastor of Providence Church, had been holding regular preaching services under an improvised arbor for two years prior to the organization.

By the request of Rev. Siler and several families in the community, the Presbytery gave permission for the organization of a church and appointed Rev. Siler, Rev. H. M. Dixon and Rev. M. C. Arrowood as organizing ministers. The church began with twenty-nine members. Land for the church building and grounds was donated by M. E. Plyler and his wife. A building was started near the present cemetery. Rev. Siler remained pastor until 1897.

Siler BellIn 1915 the church enjoyed a period of growth and began to outgrow the building. The decision was made to move the building a quarter of a mile down the road and erect a new building. Horse power was used to move the building on logs placed one after another in front of the building. This task took longer than expected and was not completed by the next Sunday. That did not deter the congregation. They simply worshiped in their sanctuary where it sat along the road. The land was donated by J. N. Price and the Belk family donated the bricks for the new building which was completed and dedicated in 1919. Within the year, the front wall of the church cracked. It was decided to remove the bell from the tower as it was determined to be unsafe. The bell was moved out into the yard, and only rung for important occasions.

CONTINUED CHURCH GROWTH

In 1964, the first educational building was added, named in honor of Dr. Q. N. Huneycutt who served as pastor from 1932-1938 and 1951-1964 when he retired. This building houses the current nursery. A Fellowship Hall was completed in 1974 which is the current church office. The manse was also completed in 1974 and a call was extended to Rev. Vernon H. Dodd who became the first full-time minister and served until 1990.

The current two-story educational building was completed in 1988 which was named in honor of Rev. Dodd. In 1992 a call was extended to Rev. Bruce M. Powell who serves as the pastor today. A new Fellowship Hall, with kitchen and large classrooms, was completed in 2002. (History from the Siler website.)

STANDING FOR THE TRUTH IN TODAY’S TIME

CAM00270On September 30, 2012, Siler Presbyterian voted to dismiss from the PCUSA denomination with a 99% vote and join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church denomination with a 98% vote. Decisions for these types of changes are never easy but the session of Siler Presbyterian was more interested in aligning their church with the truth of the Gospel then staying in a long traditional comfort zone. In a 11/8/11 letter to their congregation, the session wrote, “With a great sense of sadness, the Session has concluded that our denomination, the PCUSA, has departed from Scripture, from our Reformed (Presbyterian) heritage, from the holy will of God, and from us at Siler, a congregation of Christians seeking to be faithful to our Lord.” They went on to express, “We believe the PCUSA’s departure is not just an innocent edging away from our Lord’s revealed will in Scripture on minor issues, but they have willfully and knowingly broken with Truth on substantial issues of faith and life.”

Of course, the EPC is excited and blessed to have Siler Presbyterian as part of the family of churches of the EPC. If you are in south Charlotte on any given Sunday, it is well worth the 15 minute drive to visit with the fine folks at Siler EPC. The church is located at 6301 Weddington-Monroe Rd, Wesley Chapel, NC. As mentioned, my wife and I immensely enjoyed our visit to Siler and look forward to a future visit when next in the area.

 

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2015 in Historical Places, Travels

 

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HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF ROCKVILLE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH NEAR CHARLESTON, SC

Rockville 05In my “Discoveries of the Past” series, one of my stops along my journey through the southern states was near Charleston, SC. I had a visit with a great guy and obvious dynamic, but laid-back pastor, Rev. Mark Hunt. Mark shepherds Rockville Presbyterian Church, a member church of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church denomination. He has pastored the church for over 12 years. Mark is the husband of Megan and the father of three children, Andrew, Benjamin and Rebecca. He and his family live a few walking minutes from the church and are very much a part of the community. We immediately struck a friendship at lunch and continued getting to know one another at dinner that same night. Between meals he gave my wife and me a tour of his church which sits in lush, swamp like scenery on Wadmalaw Island, just south of Charleston. Wadmalaw Island is about 10 miles long by 6 miles wide with a population of just over 2600 people. The island is just a couple of miles from the Atlantic Ocean, easily accessible by waterway. The church building is only a few steps to Bohicket Creek. Indeed, their property has a small section of waterfront that they use occasionally for sunrise services. As we walked to the water, we passed between a couple of homes that displayed the characteristics of homes built for hot summer heat. The church is also designed for such with high ceilings and large windows. The church is lacking a steeple because the one that was originally built was blown off during a storm sometime in the past. The church property hosts several large Live Oak trees which are obviously very old by their trunk sizes and the wide spread of their massive limbs. Mark pointed out an unusual sight of a cactus growing out of a limb, some 20 feet off the ground, of the giant oak which is in front of the church. The more recent Fellowship Hall and church offices are in a separate building behind the original 1850 church building.

Rockville Presbyterian Church, sprang from the Johns Island Church formed in 1710. Johns Island is another island adjacent to, and half encircling, Wadmalaw Island. Johns Island Presbyterian Church began as part of Reverend Archibald Stobo’s plan to create five Presbyterian churches in the rural areas of South Carolina. Notably, it is one of the oldest churches in the United States built from a wood frame. Johns Island Presbyterian underwent expansions in 1792 and 1823.

Rockville Presbyterian Church is one of only two churches in the Rockville Historic District. The Church is listed on the National Register which says the following about the Rockville historical district.Rockville 07

“Rockville, one of Charleston County’s oldest surviving summer resorts (ca 1824) is important architecturally, agriculturally, militarily and in the area of transportation and recreation. This summer community’s serene, slow-moving, lifestyle is reflected in its architecture and landscape. Although houses vary in sizes and degree of architectural importance, nearly all have spacious porches, raised foundations, and large central hallways designed for summer comfort and relaxation.

The buildings within Rockville’s Historic District have obvious visual unity. All are well ventilated to take full advantage of sea breezes. Several houses appear to have been year-round residences with architecture adapted for cold weather but still well-ventilated for summer use. The district also includes two churches. Live Oaks draped with Spanish moss and palmettos dominate the landscape and add to the quaint atmosphere of the community.”

A FLASH FROM THE PAST

Wadmalaw Island was landed upon by Captain Robert Sandford and the crew of the Berkeley Bay in mid-June 1666 after an excursion up the Bohicket Creek. It is believed that Sandford landed where Rockville, South Carolina now sits. On June 23, 1666, Captain and crew carried out the ritual of turf and twig, claiming the land for England and the Lords Proprietors.

In 1670, 148 colonists arrived and settled on the west bank of the Ashley (Kiawah) River. They survived the first four years of poor crop production through the generosity of natives who shared beans and corn. They later moved to what is now Charleston.

In more recent times, The Lipton Tea Company operated an experimental tea farm on Wadmalaw Island from 1960 until 1987, when it was sold to Mack Fleming and Bill Hall. These gentlemen converted the experimental farm into a working tea plantation. The Charleston Tea Plantation utilized a converted cotton picker and tobacco harvester to mechanically harvest the tea. The Charleston Tea Plantation sold tea mail order known as American Classic Tea and also produced Sam’s Choice Instant Tea, sold through Sam’s Clubs. American Classic Tea has been the official tea of the White House since 1987. In 2003, Bigelow Tea Company purchased the Charleston Tea Plantation and temporarily closed the plantation in order to renovate it. The plantation reopened in January 2006. Tours are now offered of this last remaining working tea farm in America. Wadmalaw now produces Firefly, a sweet tea flavored vodka. It is popular throughout the Southern United States because of its recognizable flavor and cultural significance.

TIMES OF WAR

The American Revolutionary War arrived on Johns Island in May of 1779 as a body of British troops under the command of General Augustine Prevost. General Prevost established a small force to remain on the island, headed by Lieutenant Colonel John Maitland. Under the command of Sir Henry Clinton, more troops landed on Seabrook Island, beginning February 11, 1780. Clinton’s goal was to cross Johns Island and James Island and lay siege to Charleston. Clinton’s army crossed the Stono River and set up temporary headquarters at Fenwick Hall. Moving to James Island, marching up the west bank of the Ashley River to Old Town Landing then marching south to Charleston, Clinton besieged the city. Charleston surrendered to British forces on May 12, 1780; the occupation lasted until December 1782.

Bloody Creek signDuring the Civil War, The Battle of Bloody Bridge, also known as Burden’s Causeway, occurred on Johns Island in July 1864. This battle was the largest battle on Johns Island during the Civil War. In July of 1864, the Confederates still defending Charleston had control of James Island and Johns Island. On July 2, 1864, Brigadier General John Hatch’s Union troops landed in Legareville and Rockville of Johns Island. Hatch wanted to cross Johns Island, then cross the Stono River and lay siege to James Island. Hatch’s idea was to march up and take Johns Island, then move across the Stono River and take James Island. The Union troops marched about 4 miles across Seabrook to Haulover Cut, which separated Seabrook Island from Johns Island, only to find out the bridge had been burned. After a new bridge was completed, they crossed the bridge and camp for the night. The march up Johns Island continued on July 3rd. The intense heat caused the troops to move only a few miles per day. The Union troops met the Confederate troops where the creek turns into swamp. On July 6th, the Confederates opened fire on the Union camps from James Island in the morning. The Union troops were just opposite Confederate Battery Pringle on James Island, and had occupied a strong position on Burdens Causeway at a small bridge oh the main road that crossed the marsh. In front of them the Confederates holding the high ground at Waterloo Plantation. That small bridge would be forever known as “Bloody Bridge.” Through the three-day battle, involving brave attacks, fierce defense and counter-attacks, around 2,000 South Carolina soldiers held off a Union force of roughly 8,000 men. On July 10th, Confederate scouts discovered that the Union had evacuated the island overnight, going aboard their transports and burning a large quantity of commissary stores. Reported losses were 11 killed and 71 wounded for the Union forces and the Confederates suffered 37 killed and 91 wounded. (from Wikipedia and www.battleofchas.com)

One legend has it that the Confederates used the steeple of Rockville Church as a watch tower, looking for Union ships on the waterway.

A WAR OF A DIFFERENT TYPE – TAKING A STAND FOR THE TRUTH

Rockville was the first church to seek dismissal from Charleston Atlantic Presbytery and had to overcome a drawn-out process and accusations made against Pastor Mark Hunt, but the congregation’s resolve was rewarded. Rockville Presbyterian Church, was eventually released from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and has affiliated with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC).

As reported by the Presbyterian Layman:

Rockville’s decision to seek a new denominational home more in line with its theological position was two-fold. It centered around the authority of Scripture and its interpretation, and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. “It was real simple,” Hunt declared. “Those were the two issues we found to be compelling and important to us. We felt a line had been crossed by the larger church in regard to those issues.” Hunt said joining the EPC was a matter of properly aligning Rockville’s beliefs with those of like-minded Christians. “We felt misaligned. Our values and the vision of our congregation were not in line with those of the national denomination, and we couldn’t be as effective with what we wanted to do and be as a church,” he explained. “The EPC resonated well with us. When we looked in the mirror, what we saw doctrinally was the EPC and felt it was a pretty good reflection of who we are.”

Rockville 03I am glad to say that Rockville is now counted among our EPC churches. The EPC denomination is a family of churches, reformed and Presbyterian, defined by shared core values and bonded by the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. The EPC is a church family centered upon the good news of what God has done for the world through His Son, Jesus Christ. With about 125 members, Rockville Presbyterian Church, her pastor and her congregation are great additions to the EPC family. It was truly a pleasure to meet and visit with Mark and Rockville EPC. I love making new friendships, especially those that have the flavor of lasting a lifetime.

If you ever in the area of Charleston on a Sunday morning, make time drive out into the low country and worship at Rockville EPC. They are located at 2479 Sea Island Yacht Club Road Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487.

Check back later as I continue to relate some more stories from other churches I have visited.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2015 in Historical Places, Travels

 

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DISCOVERIES OF THE PAST

DISCOVERIES OF THE PAST

During the month of January, my wife and I traveled through the Southeast U.S. to visit some of the Evangelical Presbyterian Churches to share our World Outreach ministry needs and objectives. In three weeks we drove 3200 miles through 7 states and had meetings in over a dozen cities. Generally when we travel we especially love to take time to visit historical sites, historical districts in old cities and history museums along our route. Sometimes we will even go out-of-our-way to seek historical and informative sites to visit. This trip was no exception.

I LOVE TO VISIT HISTORY

Tonto Ruins 1

Tonto National Monument – Arizona

Over the years our travels have taken us to a variety of places marking Native American dwellings, early settlers to America, Revolutionary War sites, Civil War sites and a number of museums and sites commemorating past events. We’ve been known to stop at every historical marker in Natchez Trace 2route turning a two hour drive into three or four hours! One of our favorite drives is along the Natchez Trace, a 444-mile drive from Nashville, TN to Natchez, MS through exceptional scenery and 10,000 years of North American history. Travels west have taken us to ancient Indian dwellings in Arizona and New Mexico, legendary places like Tombstone (yes, there really is a boot hill cemetery) and abandoned ghost towns in California, Arizona and New Mexico. In Eastern ventures we have loved walking the streets of older cities like Williamsburg, Savannah or Charleston and reading the markers on the notable homes and buildings. We have toured Revolutionary War locations like Kings Mountain, Cowpens and Yorktown. We have visited Civil War sites such as Shiloh, Vicksburg, Kennesaw Mountain, and Appomattox. Even in many small towns across America, we have often parked in the town square and simply walked around the square to read the various signs and markers and discover the unique history of the community. One such small town was Covington, TN where they do indeed still have a statue of the Ten Commandments in front of the courthouse!

JANUARY TRIPBoot Hill Sign

During our January trip, we managed to visit a couple of new places for us:

A visit with Myrtle Grove Presbyterian Church (EPC) took us to Wilmington, NC.

“As pleasant and delectable to behold, as is possible to imagine…” is how Giovanni da Verrazano described the Cape Fear region to the French King Francis I after he reportedly became the first European to explore the region back in 1524.

The port city of Wilmington, NC, located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River, was settled in the 1720s. Wilmington’s commercial importance as a major port afforded it a critical role in opposition to the British in the years leading up to the Revolution. Additionally, the city was home to outspoken political leaders who influenced and led the resistance movement in North Carolina. The foremost of these was Wilmington resident Cornelius Harnett, who served in the General Assembly at the time, where he rallied opposition to the Sugar Act in 1764. When the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act the following year, designed to raise revenue for the King with another tax, Wilmington was the center of a series of demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience against it, ultimately resulting in the repeal of the Stamp Act by Parliament in 1766.

During the Civil War, Wilmington was one of the most important points of entry for supplies for the entire Confederate States. Its port traded cotton and tobacco in exchange for foreign goods, such as munitions, clothing and foodstuffs. These cargoes were transferred to railroad cars and sent from the city throughout the Confederacy. This nourished both the southern states in general and specifically General Robert E. Lee’s forces in Virginia. The trade was dependent on the British smugglers and their blockade runner ships, called so because they had to avoid the Union’s imposed maritime barricade. After three small engagements (see Fort Anderson below) along the Cape Fear River, Wilmington was captured by Union forces in the Battle of Wilmington in February 1865, cutting off a valuable resource for Confederate supplies.

WilmingtonWilmington is also the permanent home of the WWII battleship USS North Carolina. We could see her birthed across the river from our motel room. Just outside the motel back door, we could access the one-mile long Riverwalk that runs along the river with lots of historical markers, eateries and the Coast Guard port for the USCGC cutter Diligence. One block off the river was the historic downtown area where we saw a number of old homes, enjoyed a couple of adult beverages and ate dinner.

Before leaving the Wilmington area we stopped for a short visit at the old Brunswick Town Historical District.

St Phillips Church Ruins

St. Philip’s Church: Construction began in 1754, but was not completed until 1768. It took only one day to be destroyed by the British army.

The Brunswick Town Historic District contains the ruins of 18th-century commercial and residential colonial homes, the St. Philip’s Church Ruins, Fort Anderson, and Russellborough, the former governor’s mansion. Brunswick Town, settled in 1726, was a major pre-Revolutionary port razed by British troops in 1776 and never rebuilt.

During the Civil War, Fort Anderson was constructed atop the old town site, and served as part of the Cape Fear River defenses below Wilmington. An anonymous artilleryman of Company E, 36th North Carolina Regiment gave the following report for The Wilmington Journal on May28, 1863:

“We have at length, by the sweat of our brows, and the power of our Fort Andersonbone and muscle, completed one of the most formidable batteries in the Southern Confederacy. Guided and sustained by the energy and perseverance of Major [John J.] Hedrick, commanding (who is a good commander and a gentleman to boot), we have put up a work which will compare favorably with any work of its kind in the county, and now only want certain additions to our armament to feel confident of being able to defy all Yankeedom to reach Wilmington by this route. We have, up to this time, done our full duty in building fortifications for the defense of Wilmington, as well as for the protection of our homes and firesides, our wives and children, and of most of all near and dear to us. If the enemy should ever approach us here, we intend to give him a warm reception. With the help of God, we intend to stand by our guns until the last man falls, or gain the victory.”

Well, after all that confidence, in February 1865, Union forces positioned to attack Fort Anderson. Federals attacked from the land and river. After three days of fighting, the Confederates evacuated the fort in the cover of night. The union forces attacked the next day to find the fort abandoned. So much for all the “until the last man falls” bragging!

During our January trip we also had the chance to revisit Savannah, GA, Charleston, SC, Corinth, MS and Vicksburg, MS. It’s always a treat to visit these historic cities where we seem to always discover something interesting every time we are there.

A HISTORICAL CHURCH TOUR WAS UNEXPECTED

What we did not anticipate on this trip was the number of churches that we visited that turned out to be historical testimonials as well as the home of our EPC congregations. While many of the churches we visited have colorful histories, I particularly want to share the stories of five of the churches.Rockville 08

Now I am NOT a historian in any fashion but I do like to share stories. Over the next weeks or so, I will add to Reflections several individual stories of EPC churches in or near Charleston, SC; Charlotte, NC; Huntsville, AL; Corinth, MS; and Vicksburg, MS. I found the accounts of these churches fascinating for not only the historical content but also for the resolve and devotion of the churches. Most of the church history is from the church websites sprinkled with some area history that I have researched and blended into the telling. I will also include photos that I have taken as well as some historical images. I hope you will come back to Reflections and read along and learn not just about the church’s history but also a little about the area where they reside. some of the stories will be on the longer side. In fact, one of them will be in two parts. They will be laced with links to interesting sites and stories that I hope you will want to follow to get deeper into the stories. If you are part of the EPC I think you will enjoy learning about other churches in our denomination. If you are not a part of the EPC, I hope you will enjoy simply learning about history and the life and times of people of the past.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2015 in Historical Places, Travels

 

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EBOLA OUTBREAK CLOSES AFRICAN BIBLE COLLEGE IN LIBERIA

map-of-ebola-outbreak-in-guinea-sierra-leone-and-liberia-in-west-africaThree West Africa countries have been ravished by an outbreak of the Ebola virus; Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The death toll from the worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history has been blamed for 729 deaths in actually four West African countries this year… 339 in Guinea, 233 in Sierra Leone, 156 in Liberia and one in Nigeria. The numbers tragically continue to grow and Christian workers and institutions are not exempt from the disease’s impact. Recent reports by the World Health Organization say almost half of the 57 new deaths reported occurred in Liberia. Also in Liberia, authorities say 28 out of the 45 health workers who have contracted the disease so far have died. In Sierra Leone, among the deaths was that of the chief doctor treating Ebola, Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan.

A friend of mine, Larry Brown, teaches at the African Bible College in Malawi, fortunately far from the center of the breakout. He sent me a notice he just got from Paul Chinchen, president of African Bible College [Liberia / Malawi / Uganda].

“Due to the Ebola crisis in Liberia, Sierra Leone & Guinea, African Bible Colleges has made the decision to postpone the fall opening of ABC University in Yekepa, Liberia.

At present our Liberian faculty and staff at the campus in Yekepa are at low risk. The ABC University is 200 miles from the Ebola outbreaks in Monrovia and Lofa County. Meanwhile the 6 American and Canadian missionary staff who were scheduled to be at the college this fall are all stateside for the summer.

The Ebola crisis in West Africa is the worst in history. More people have died than in all other Ebola outbreaks combined. The U.S Government has withdrawn all of its Peace Corps staff from the region, SIM is evacuating 60 missionaries from the three countries — as have Samaritans Purse and COTN. Meanwhile the President of Sierra Leone (where some of our ABC students come from) has closed all schools and government offices. In Liberia the President has stopped all public gatherings, closed all land border crossings, and at least three airlines have stopped flights to Monrovia, including Delta Airlines.

Please be in diligent prayer for the two missionaries who contracted Ebola at the SIM/ELWA Hospital in Monrovia – (our ABC Monrovia Guest House is located on the same SIM compound). Both Dr Kent Brantly (Samaritans Purse) & Nancy Writebol (SIM) were working with Ebola patients when they became ill. They are at a very critical stage right now and your prayers are urgently needed.

ABC will make the decision when to reopen the campus in Yekepa when the Ebola crisis is under control. Meanwhile our mission has started work on literature that will be printed, translated and distributed by our ABC staff in Liberia that will educate local people on the virus, and how to prevent or control future outbreaks.”

Fox News reported (online, 7/31) about the workers that ABC President Chinchen mentions, and the seriousness of the Ebola disease.

Two gravely ill American medical workers in Liberia who were infected with the Ebola virus are said to be in stable condition as the humanitarian organization Samaritan’s Purse works to bring them back to the U.S. for treatment.

Dr. Kent Brantly, the second American stricken by the disease, yesterday was offered an experimental serum but only one dose was provided. “Dr. Brantly asked that it be given to Nancy Writebol,” a nurse working with him who also infected, Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse said in a press release. “However, Dr. Brantly received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy who had survived Ebola because of Dr. Brantly’s care. The young boy and his family wanted to be able to help the doctor that saved his life.”

Samaritan’s Purse is working with the government to bring Brantly and Writebol back to the U.S. for treatment. Graham told Fox News that all agreements are in place and that he hopes they will be on a specially-equipped aircraft back home in a few days. He also noted that the plane will likely have to make a stop for refueling.

With regards to the experimental serum and blood treatment administered to two American patients, Frieden said the CDC does not know the details of what was given. The CDC have not found any evidence that any treatments are effective against Ebola.

“There are no proven treatments, no proven vaccines and there is not likely to be one for at least a year, even in the best case scenario,” he said.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is worsening and is the largest known in history and it will take at least 3-6 months, if everything goes well, to manage the outbreak, Frieden noted.

“It’s not going to be quick, it’s not going to be easy, but we know what to do,” he said. “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”

African Bible College In Liberia Has Seen Tough Times Before…

The first African Bible College campus was opened in 1978 in the West African country of Liberia by Jack and Nell Chinchen. In December of 1989, the civil war began in Liberia.  The Liberian Civil War claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Liberians (one out of every 17 people in the country) and sent a million refugees into camps in neighboring countries. And then in 1999 the Second Liberian Civil War broke out which further disrupted the operation of ABS.

ABC Liberia managed to stay open on and off during the early years of the war, but in 1992 the college was forced to close down completely for the next 16 years. In November of 2008, after two years of clearing brush and complete renovation of staff houses, dormitories, classrooms, offices and dining hall, the college was once again up and running.

…And The College Carries-On the Good Fight

The chief aim of African Bible College is to train Godly men and women for Christian leadership and service. The curriculum is designed to prepare the college’s graduates for Christian vocation. The degree is designed to be either terminal or preparatory for further education. Students are being trained for Christian leadership; consequently, the college desires students who are committed to God’s guidance and dedicated to the Lord’s service. ABC is distinctively a Bible college, and its courses are designed to hold to the highest academic standards. Its four-year program is of university standard, and the degree offered is parallel to the Bachelor of Arts degree awarded by other international universities and liberal arts colleges.

ABS is training Christian leaders that take their training to the world where they live. Today African Bible Colleges has nearly 800 graduates serving in a wide spectrum of Christian ministry from program production at TransWorld Radio, orphan care with Children of the Nations, leadership positions at Campus Crusade (Life Ministries), and HIV ministries with World Relief, to planting churches in the former communist stronghold of Mozambique. These are only a few of the places ABC graduates are making an impact and they are proving to be a key component in the evangelization and transformation of Africa.

Prayer Needs

1.  Pray for the people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia that are affected by Ebola either personally or by family members.
2.  Pray that African Bible College will be able to re-open soon so they can continue their work of preparing students.
3.  Pray that Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol will survive their sickness and live-on to continue their mission in Africa.
4.  Pray that God will show His glory during this season of suffering in West Africa.

 

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2014 in World Christianity

 

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THIS MISSION TRIP COULD HAVE BEEN HIS LAST

THIS MISSION TRIP COULD HAVE BEEN HIS LAST

“During this time of intense prayer I did not ask that Carroll’s life or my life be spared, but that I would have the strength and courage to be faithful to the end, whatever that might be.” These words reflect a desperate prayer from Shirley as her husband, Carroll, was being attacked by a group of robbers when they broke into their temporary home, wielding machetes.

My friend Carroll stands just over 5 feet tall. He is in his 80’s now. He is a very gentle man of God. Talking to him one is immediately put at ease as he shares about his mission in life since retirement. No one would suspect the near death experience he endured that would have turned many people away from the call of taking the Word to remote parts of the globe. He had retired as a professor at the University of Tennessee to become associated with Worldwide Discipleship Association as a missionary. Even in his seventies, Carroll felt the desire and calling of God to reach out to unknown places and give hope and rest to unknown people. In recent years he and his wife have taken a number of short-term mission trips, some with their church, Cedar Springs EPC in Knoxville, to places such as Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya, Romania, Tuva (Russia), Myanmar and Peru. One of those trips to Tanzania in 2006 was nearly the last trip Carroll would take. Not because of getting older, but because of a vicious attack.

THEIR STORY

Carroll and Shirley had arrived in Tanzania safely and had met with some mission friends already on the ground. They had had meetings during the day and were resting comfortably at the mission compound, serving as their temporary home, that evening after dinner. The compound is surrounded by high walls and considered a safe-haven from such attacks. After dinner Shirley retreated to the bathroom area, where the lighting was the best, to read her book. Carroll went to the bedroom to rest. Suddenly, Shirley was shockingly distracted from her book when she heard a rough voice demand, “Give me your money!” She heard Carroll yell her name in a panicked voice as the assault on him began. Rather than rushing to his aid, which probably would have resulted in her being attacked as well, she turned to the Lord in frantic prayer. As she hid herself in a bathroom stall, she cried out to Jesus with prayers, “Jesus…Jesus…Jesus” and “Please help Carroll” and for herself, “Make me faithful to the end.” She thought for sure that after the attackers were finished with Carroll, she would be next.

As three men had broken into the dormitory, a table had turned over blocking direct attack from two of the men. The third man began beating Carroll on his head and shoulders with the side of a machete, demanding money. One swipe of the machete came full force with the blade. Carroll’s arm was sliced open on the underside from wrist to elbow. After his arm was cut, the attacker told Carroll to kneel. Holding his arm to staunch to flow of blood, Carroll looked in to the eyes of his attacker and proclaimed, “Jesus” with a command, “In the name of Jesus, I command you to leave.” One of the attackers cried, “Let’s get out of here.” Carroll felt the presence of the Holy Spirit fill the room and caused the three men to become frightened and flee. If Carroll had gone to his knees at the robbers demand, he probably would have suffered much worse. As it was he was bleeding profusely from his arm wound and was close to death from loss of blood. Meanwhile, Shirley had continued to pray and proclaiming Jesus as the victor and protector of their lives in time of trouble.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.
Psalm 138:7

The thieves had left with no money and only a small tape recorder with, ironically, a worship tape inside.

Carroll was guided to their friend’s house in the compound by what he felt was “an angle on each side of him.” Upon hearing of the attack, several staff members went to the dormitory and rescued Shirley. A tourniquet was applied to Carroll’s arm but much too loosely so he had to continually hold his arm tightly to try to slow the bleeding. They stopped at the police station on the way to the hospital to report the attack. Seeing that the bleeding was not slowing, Shirley hurried the group on to the hospital. She saw that Carroll was getting weaker and closer to death and they filled out paperwork. As it turned out, a police accident report had to be presented to the hospital for treatment. She prayed words of life over Carroll all the way to the hospital.

When they arrived at the hospital, Shirley ran from the vehicle into the hospital and called for a doctor as loud as she could yell. He came immediately and followed her to the car where Carroll was still bleeding liberally and near to passing out completely. Carroll had blood all over him and the car and no one knew just how badly he was beaten or the extent of his injuries. The doctor did not begin treatment immediately but kept watching him. The nurse could not get an IV into Carroll’s vein and it took the doctor to get it inserted. He estimated that Carroll had lost about forty percent of his blood. His blood pressure was zero over zero, and it remained that way for several hours. The doctor stitched his arm but failed to repair the cut artery. During two days at the hospital, Christian friends brought meals to Carroll and Shirley since the hospital did not provide them. The hospital did what they could with limited supplies and resources. After leaving the hospital they arranged to immediately fly home arriving in Knoxville the next day. They immediately went to the University of Tennessee Hospital emergency room. They checked-out Carroll and seemed to think all was well and sent him home. A week later, he was back at the hospital with severe pain. They were going to send him home again except their daughter, a registered nurse, suspected something else was wrong and insisted they do some more tests. When a vascular surgeon saw the test results, he sent Carroll to surgery immediately. After cutting open his arm open from wrist to elbow and repairing the slashed artery, he stated that Carroll had compartment syndrome and came within two hours of losing his hand. Blood had been pooling in his arm with no place to go.

Carroll stayed in the hospital for eight more days with two more surgeries. Today, Carroll still has a little pain in his arm. When I talked with him he was upbeat, humorous and more than willing to share his story as well as show me the 12” scar that goes from wrist to elbow. Shirley concluded her testimony, “We are thankful that we are both alive and can continue to serve our Savior in Tanzania and other parts of the world as we follow the Lord’s leading for our lives.”

IF WE CAN JUST BE LIKE THEM

I reflect on this story not to cause alarm or fear from the tragedy of the events, but for the joy of the ongoing story. What an inspiration to meet a couple that have gone through so much yet joyfully risk it again to continue with their calling around the globe! I admire those that have taken up their cross in dangerous places and face persecution and possibly death every day. It’s not work one takes lightly or without reason. As written in my last blog, A New Mission Has Begun, my wife and I recently took vows while being commissioned as missionaries for World Outreach of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). The last vow to which we said “I do,” was one of being willing to suffer and possibly die for the sake of the mission. While we are not going off to live in a remote part of the world, part of our ministry is to visit those places where EPC World Outreach missionaries are living and working. Some of those places are dangerous. I pray that we never have to face any physical peril in the mission field. But I also pray if we do have to face the danger we can meet the challenges with the faith, strength and tenacity that our friends Carroll and Shirley displayed in their time of trial as well as the many that have gone before us facing persecution and enduring all the inflictions for the cause of Christ. As Shirley proclaimed, I hope to “have the strength and courage to be faithful to the end, whatever that might be.”

“Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him…” 
2 Timothy 2:10-11

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2014 in Mission

 

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