One of the songs we love at Wrenn is, “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.” Many times when we sing, thoughts come to our mind of difficulties and struggles the Lord has brought us through; which is quite appropriate. But our God is always protecting and guiding us! Such has been the case for us and our relationship with Wrenn. When situations caused us to leave our home in New Ellenton and the church we had grown to love there, we had no inkling what we would do. Beth had been hired at a local High School, so she had a job but I didn’t know where I would go or if there would be a church desiring my type of ministry and preaching. To make matters worse, Beth had just had hernia surgery and was very much incapacitated, leaving the moving and organizing to me. Jonathan was in his second year at Newberry College, Rebecca was in her fourth year at Bob Jones, so there was only Megan available to help us move. It was rough. We did have help, however, in that my sister Betty had a house she was willing to rent to us at a very reasonable rate. It was so reasonable, I actually raised the amount of rent she was charging us, because I just didn’t see how she could do what she was doing. So, we had a good place to live, Beth had a job, but things were very much in the air regarding me finding the Church God wanted us to serve. In the meantime, I had to find some type of work because all we had was $8,000 left plus a small love offering the church had received for us when we left. When I say we had nothing after that was gone, I mean ZERO! We had put three kids in college and our recent situation had cost over ten-thousand dollars. We weren’t just “cash poor,” we was “dirt poor!” After approaching numerous Southern Baptist Associational offices and being questioned, snubbed and put off by nearly all of them, I had pretty much decided God was through with me in the Ministry. And I began to get very depressed. Ministry was all I had ever known. Oh, sure, I had built and remodeled houses but that was my side-job when our church couldn’t afford to pay us a living wage. All of that was on the side as well, so there was no “resume” I could show where I could do certain building projects. Though Beth did have a job, she started work immediately after very serious and painful surgery. Within a couple of months, she realized the situation she was in at the school was unlike anything she had ever faced before. There was tremendous difficulty in dealing with the kids and seriously weak support from the administrative staff. Beth went from being “Teacher of the Year,” at Aiken Middle, to being a teacher who was swamped, overwhelmed and attacked on nearly every side. Her stress at work became heartbreaking and anger inducing for me. All of that plus the fact that I knew God had called me – without any doubt – to be a Minister of the Gospel. But it looked as if that would end at forty-seven years old. My spirit was slowly being crushed. I took a job with Belk Department Stores in late October early November of 2007, and was able to do a small amount of side jobs to bring in a little money. Eventually, we just couldn’t make it on what Beth brought home and my Belk employment, so we began to live on a charge card while I continued to look for work. I found the market for a forty-seven year old man with no marketable skills was very small. Still, we continued to seek the Lord’s guidance. Then the Lord sent a light into my darkness. Sometime in February or March, T. D. Burgess called out of the blue concerning a book he had wanted to get to me. He asked how the church was doing and when he found out I wasn’t preaching, he was flabbergasted and said, “Brother Jim, do you want to get back into the pulpit?” When I assured him it was my greatest desire, he said, “There’s a little Southern Baptist Church in Greenville. I know the former pastor, John Everhart, very well. Let me give you his number and you call him. I believe you would be a great fit for that church! Well Brother Jim, it seems God didn’t have me call you about a book but about a church” You know the rest! When we began here, God took the darkness, fear and frustration I was wallowing in and turned it completely around! Y’all became our family and have blessed and encouraged us at every, single turn! We cannot say enough how thankful we are that God has place us here and what all of you mean to us! I know Pastor Appreciation Sunday was a month ago, and we have still to send out individual thank-you notes, but please know we are thankful! We were overwhelmed by the kindness you showed us, not just in the cards and gifts – which were a great blessing – but in the kind words so many of you shared with us over the course of that day and long into the week. Personally, outside of my wife and children, I have never felt the love and affection I have felt from all of you at any other point in my life. From the absolute bottom of my heart I say, we say, “thank you!” Our prayer for you is that God will keep you close, meet your needs and heal your hurts. He is wonderful and always does more than we could hope or imagine. We certainly never imagined such a church as Wrenn but God not only imagined it, He created it for His glory and has wondrously allowed us to be home here for the past eleven years! Thank the Lord and thank you so very, very much!
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