ABILENE, Tex. (BNC) by Ron McElyea — In 2012, some of us purchased land between Abilene and Tuscola, which lies about 16 miles south. This was done with the expectation of growth at the Baker Heights congregation, where I served as an elder. The Lord did give us increase, and on various occasions plans were discussed in many elders’ meetings as to how and when to initiate a seeding.
When you begin to make plans that engage and bring glory to our God, he moves and works in ways that we don’t always understand and certainly on his timetable, not ours.
Another elder, Zane Dennis, and his family, plus my family, along with another Baker Heights family, and a family from another congregation proceeded with plans. There were 13 Baker Heights members and two from another congregation, with five children in this core group. This was communicated to the Baker Heights congregation in a special Sunday meeting in early January. The remaining four Baker Heights elders publicly blessed this decision.
Our first congregational worship service at Remington Ridge was held the first Sunday in February. Zane and myself were installed as elders and three other men were installed as deacons.
The following week, an additional five families joined us from Baker Heights. Since that Sunday, we began meeting in a large conference room of a local hotel. We have had five baptisms in seven months and the Lord has blessed us now with 26 family units (51 adult believers with 24 children). Our number continues to swell with his grace and through evangelism.
Our average attendance on Sunday mornings is 68 with a high of 111 in June. We have meetings and Bible studies in homes throughout the week.
You may visit our website to get some idea of our vision based on the Lord’s mission for his church. We are in the process of completing a contract for a new building to be started prayerfully around the first of November, Lord willing. It’s both an exciting time as well as time to rely on God’s grace and his hand.
Our growth has come from our evangelistic efforts and from members in other local congregations who have felt a need to get busy.
So, in our late 60s, Jerri and I embark on a new journey. It’s amazing how this mission has energized or perhaps re-energized us and many others. It certainly has its ups and downs, but God is so good. Our goals are to “restore, reach out and reveal” Christ to others, allowing God to do his work in us.
In the city of Abilene significant changes have occurred. At least ten congregations of the Lord’s church have closed their doors, and their buildings are now denominations or non-profit businesses. The church has become divided, and many have isolated themselves from each other. As in other places around the world, we have become split between “liberal vs conservative” identities, instead of just being the one body of Christ according to scriptural teachings. Satan has been working long hours, and his success shows.
But in all of these changes, people are still searching for truth, especially many young and broken families. Some in the Lord’s church have become dull and self-satisfied. But if we remain faithful to His word, God will supply, and has supplied. We only need to be workers in his field and he will give the harvest, even in Abilene as his mission field.
The new start was featured in the Abilene Reporter-News June 2, when a service was held June 4 on site with a groundbreaking ceremony.