A Life In Ministry

admin Thursday, October 5, 2023 Comments Off on A Life In Ministry
A Life In Ministry

Steve and Roseanna James were an effective pastoring team. Now it’s time for transition. They’re not done, but they know what words they hope to hear one day, “Well done, good ‘n faithful servants…”

Steve James has retired, as pastor of Trinity Baptist. He has a story to tell.  Whether it’s a story, or whether it’s a sermon, is between God and the reader…

Grapes Of Wrath Migration

His father’s family called Fort Smith, Arkansas home, until the Great Depression left them even more desperate.  

“Kids would get an orange for Christmas… 

“They thought store bought bread was a luxury.”  

With nothing to lose, the family did the Grapes of Wrath migration, to California. His father Pete, first time, ever, in a hotel, “he spent the whole night flipping light switches on ‘n off, and flushing toilets.” He had never known either.

Through hard work, the family situation rose. His father was a truck driver, his mother held a job, between them they were grossing $1650 a month in 1950s money. “Big house, at Christmas, toys everywhere under the tree.”And then his father, Pete, found Jesus, and went into the ministry.

First church, just a handful of people, mostly family. His father made $25 a week. He drove a school bus, for extra money.

As For Steve The Teenager…

“…I knew about religion, but I had no relationship.  I knew “about” Jesus, but I didn’t know Jesus.”

He graduates from high school in 1969. “You were either a Hippie, or a Hood.  I was a Hood.” (Later in life his mother told him, “Your father and I thought you’d end up in prison.”)

He was churchy at church, and otherwise, elsewhere.  “I felt fake, phony and plastic.”

One night, a visiting preacher made an altar call. Down the aisle, comes the preacher’s kid. His prayer was short, and simple, “Jesus, I’m a sinner. Come into my heart.  That’s all I said, but I meant it.”

A year later, he “felt the call.” Met his future wife, Roseanna, two weeks before college.  It’ll be 50 years, next July…

He graduated from seminary in December of 1978. 

His first church was in Winfield Missouri, “They had a washateria, a city hall, a gas station, and a few empty houses.” Town population was 620. Church attendance doubled, by the time he left.

God Qualifies The Called

Years pass, churches get bigger, James is pastoring in Baytown Texas, when someone tells him about Trinity Baptist, which was about the same size as the Baytown church. He doesn’t act. Time passes, still nothing. When finally he submits his name, someone asks him, why the reluctance?

When James came to Trinity, Nelson Road was two lanes, and this property was rural ‘n rustic.

“The previous pastors were all Dr., Dr., Dr., and I’m just a Bro.  “I drive a white pickup.”

Who doesn’t identify with that?

Moses sent to confront Pharoah, David sent to confront Goliath, Peter sent to pickup where Jesus left off, the history of the church is filled with people whose first instinct was “Who am I, for this job?”

But over and over again, God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called.

The year is 1996. Nelson Road is two lanes. The property where the church now resides felt far away, raw, and rustic. The church has want-to, but isn’t sure what-to, or how-to. And here comes the new preacher…

27 Years Later

The main building was built in 2000.  Then came the next thing, and the next things, until we reach the present, where Trinity Baptist is now settled, and established.

What’s it been like, to be the pastor of Trinity Baptist?

“Everything about Trinity is a God thing,” says James. “God has used every church to teach me something: An informed church, is a happy church; He will provide for whatever He ordains; He is in control, even in difficult situations.”

James has learned, from being on both sides of Hurry versus Wait. He’s been impatient, and learned from it. But he’s also been hesitant, and learned from that too.  He’s recalls a certain situation: 

“It was as if God was saying to me, “Steven, what are you waiting for?

“I’m waiting for You.”

“No.  I’m waiting for you.”

Trinity Baptist was built for growth. Membership is in the thousands, and 1500 attend services any given Sunday.

Go Where You’re Sent, 

Stay Where You’re Put, 

Give What You Got

“Vision” was the emphasized word of James’ last sermon.  “It’s time for a new person, with a new vision.”

He’s 72.  “I’ve been at this for 44 years.  Any other profession, I’d have retired years ago.”  

The same motto that applied to ministry will apply to retirement:

“Go where you’re sent; Stay where you’re put; Give what you got.”

But how exactly, does one retire from the ministry?  

“You don’t retire from spiritual,” says James. Being part of saving someone “changes eternity.”

James has been to Africa more than 20 times.  “If you cut me, I bleed “evangelism.”” Africa is so very one-on-one, “Hut to hut,” he calls it.  

One time, he was walking down a path, the guide suggested they change course, but James urged them to continue.  They came across a man who told them that he’d had a dream, about a white man, carrying a black book.  Eternity changed.

Husband And Wife 

There’s a Bible verse about marriage, about being “equally yoked.”  Complimentary talents, complimentary personality strengths, and clarity about direction, this is part of what made Steve and Roseanna James an effective pastoring team.

James has visited Africa more than 20 times. “You don’t retire from spiritual,” he says.

Now its time for a pause, time for transition. They’re not done, but they know what words they hope to hear one day, “Well done, good ‘n faithful servants…”

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