I'm back in the saddle again, after spending a couple of days with a delightful group of small town and rural pastors in upstate New York.
The conference was held at the Wesleyan Church in Big Flats. (Big Flats is a great town but not very big! I wonder how big Little Flats is!)
They had me come and speak for a day and a half in an effort to encourage and inspire these faithful soldiers for Jesus who serve in little places. It was a tremendous honor for me to be with them.
Although I went there to bless them, these folks ended up blessing me more! How beautiful to see such commitment and faithfulness to the cause of Christ.
The host pastor, Bern Lytle, for example, has pastored the same congregation for about a quarter of a century -- and he still loves it!! You can see the gleam in his eye! He truly is making a difference in his community.
I was blessed to meet Lynn Ensign, who pastors Mt. Pisgah, a thriving congregation in the middle of nowhere. His roots go back to Wisconsin -- and he was familar with the history of Hayward Wesleyan. He has a passionate heart for God and people. No wonder God is blessing his ministry.
It was good to connect with the Central New York District Superintendent, Wayne Wager. Just a very short time ago, his precious wife, Pat, passed away from cancer. Even as he walks the valley of grief, I noticed how he tenderly encouraged his pastors. They all love him deeply. What a saint!
My good friend Paul James arrived with a vanload of pastors from the eastern part of the state (where he serves as District Superintendent.) They drove hours -- and then had to listen to me speak for hours. I think they deserve a medal!
I was overjoyed when my friends, Steve, Vaughn, Tom and Jay showed up from Victory Highway Wesleyan Church , which is a flagship church in our denomination. It was also great to reconnect with a few of my former FLAME students, who graciously heard my stories twice!
Dan Jones, the sharp, young pastor of Avon Wesleyan Church took me out to dinner and we had a fascinating and engaging conversation on church leadership. This guy is on the ball! He has a great future ahead of him.
A real highlight for me was getting to know Bud Fancy of Pulaski Wesleyan Church (who organized the event.) We're going to be good friends for life! His son, Seth, is an amazing young and godly man who is neck deep in church planting (The Bridge to New Life) -- and loving it!! If I lived within driving distance, I'd definitely go to his church.