My sister held up very well under all the stress of this trip, and Stephen provided the necessary help to mom and Ellen as well. The exhaustion has been real for sure. Mom did so well, but I have not talked with them since they went back to Texas.
This trip to Lynchburg was about mom. We would have been happy and overjoyed just to see mom and Ellen and Stephen. Mom was the reason for the season. April 15th . She has been the rock of our family. She has remained true to her faith in Christ. She has remained strong in her resolve. She has battled several major illness and yet she has come through very well. When my dad died in 1966, she resolved to continue in her love for the Lord and her family. When we were falling apart in our lives at times, mom would step in and provide the necessary love to bring us back together. More than once one of her children was back home for a while until we got back on our feet. Mom’s will do that you know. This is for another article and another day.
Our trip was great. Charity again was able see the West Virginia Turnpike. And then we got into Virginia. From I-65 we took Route 501. It was 37 miles to Lynchburg. If you had a straight road the distance would have been four miles, I believe. (Ha) Blue Ridge Mountain roads are turning and twisting and climbing for sure. We were glad we had day light so we could see the mountains and valleys below. (Way below!)
I had a few probing questions for Jerry. He spoke on the Emergent Church movement. (A most informative lesson. He has sat down and talked with the founding preachers of this movement.) I asked how he is continuing to reach new people after fifty years of ministry in Lynchburg, and yet has not compromised his biblical position. I inquired how Liberty University is still reaching new young people in today’s cultural climate. I asked how he has been able to see growth in the University not only in number but in quality of education. Stephen asked how he was able to see the sport’s program go Division 1. The Debate Team at Liberty accomplished something no other University has ever done. They won first place in all three major debate contests. How did they do that? Great! I looked at their new church facilities, 6,000 seat auditorium, filled four times on Sunday. (This is not counting Liberty Students who have their own services) I looked carefully how the building was designed. The foyer of the church, amazing. Beautiful. People didn’t mind staying after the services to fellowship. How does this happen I asked? Two hundred people in the choir who don’t drink beer, or smoke, but live godly Christian lives. How does that happen? A praise team that are in love with the Lord. How? How have you been in Lynchburg for 50 years and you still have a desire to see much more accomplished before you die? How do you still preach out of the KJV? How do you have the music that youth will listen to, yet you don’t personally like it? How has he been able to attract some of the best Christian teachers and coaches in the nations? The church and school have 3500 employees.
And while I was asking question, I asked another five or six people on staff their opinion about the ministry. I asked ushers questions.
I asked Mae Arrington who sings in the choir if Jerry was correct about the choir? She said they all love singing, and loved the Lord. She has known Jerry and Macel most of her life, and she said he and Macel are as real a Christian as you will ever want to know.
I talked to the sound tech director, he said, "We designed the building around the sound system. There was not a limit as to cost. And Jerry said, do it right."
I asked, "Jerry how is it that so many churches and pastors are failing to reach people for Christ, and so many of their members are leaving the church?’
Then I asked him, "How is it that you drive your own car with your wife?" I didn’t ask him but I thought it: "How is it that you have sat with Presidents of the U.S. often, and yet today you and your wife are sitting here at O’Charleys eating with my sister, her son, my mother, and Charity and me, for over an hour?" And at no time did I feel uncomfortable.
In both Macel and Jerry Falwell, there was true humility. A very unique quality for those who are in their position.
I must say Charity and I have never been so well treated.
When I recover from this trip and the emotions of Virginia Tech, I am going to take an attempt to put this experience is perspective and post the article on GROW BY LEARNING. And that is how you learn.
Drafted by Charles E. Whisnant April 18, 2007 Proof Checked by Charity April 19th 2007