by Robert Earl Houston
NASHVILLE, TN – Tomorrow morning I will, Lord willing, stand in the pulpit of my adopted home church, Westwood Baptist Church, University Center for the sixth time in the last nine years, to preach their Church Anniversary.
Westwood holds a very special place in my heart. After almost leaving the ministry following an experience in California, pastor Barton Harris and the people of Westwood were used by God to nurse me back to health in a loving, patient and encouraging way.
I was their guest, thanks to one of their associate ministers, Minister Brian Wilkins, for their Men’s Revival for three days. Upon my arrival, I met Pastor Harris who was actually on his way out of the city to go on holiday with his wife, Carolyn. I was in the hands of his pastoral team for those days and nights and concluded on Sunday preaching at the 11 a.m. service.
When I arrived back in San Diego, I wrote Pastor Harris a thank you letter and then a few weeks later, he invited me to preach their Church Anniversary in October 2005. I agreed and then he said, “have you ever thought about moving to Nashville?” I was surprised and certainly that had never entered into my thoughts and he said that he wanted to offer me an Assistant Pastor staff position, with unique duties from other staff. I told him (it was early September when we talked) we could discuss it when I came there in October, and he said he wanted me in place by the start of their fiscal year, October 1st – so he flew me out to Nashville and we interviewed. I was offered the position and two weeks later I moved to Music City.
What an experience it was. I served at his side faithfully – taught Bible Study, Sunday School, Teachers Meeting, Staff Meetings, Director/Musician for the Men of Praise, and other areas – and it was a fresh start, a new beginning, and a learning experience. Westwood wrapped their arms around me and embraced me as one of their own. To this day, my membership remains at Westwood.
I’m looking forward to standing in that sacred place in the morning. Several members of FBC Frankfort are here now and I’m expecting many more tomorrow. I’m praying for their traveling graces and arriving mercies. There will be a lot of hugs, embraces, kind words, and quiet reflections over the people who have meant so much to me in the past and those of whom I serve at present. It’s the perfect storm of love and fellowship.