by Robert Earl Houston
FRANKFORT, KY – Today one of our members made her transition from Earth to her Heavenly Home and one of my Deacons’ sister made that same move today. In the last few days Pastors such as Dr. H.L. Hudson, Rev. Lonnie Simon, Dr. William “Bill” Brent, Jr., Rev. Danny Kirk and others locally and across the nation have gone into the couch of nature’s night to awaken upon another shore.
If there is one constant in this life, it is that transitions occur. The ultimate transition is from life unto death (or death unto life, depending upon your perspective). The Bible declares we are just a vapor – here one day and then gone the next. However, no one receives a date of departure – not even gifted and skilled physicians can accurately predict when death shall come. So it is in life – not even gifted preachers and teachers can accurately predict when transitions will occur in life.
When I was a young associate minister, I wanted to pastor in my early 20s. I thought I was ready (silly, wasn’t I?). Only to find out that God’s timetable is very different from mine. I candidated in churches in Pasco, Washington, Seattle, Washington, Pasadena, California – and then God opened a door in my own back yard. That was a transition.
After laboring bi-vocationally, God moved again. I was under consideration by churches across the nation, and then God sent me to the rural part of California – Fresno! That was a transition.
After successfully pastoring there, God moved again. This time, it was to San Diego and all of the time that I was there, God would not allow me to feel comfortable nor “at home.” Neither did I know that God had to take me through a storm to be able to be used in a greater way. But it was a painful transition.
Finally after being in a place of support, comfort and encouragement – Westwood Baptist Church, University Center, God had another transition in store. I had never heard of my church nor of the city prior to coming here. I had only preached in the southwest corner of the state in Paducah and near the border of Clarksville, Tennessee. Matter of fact, I was called by two churches in the same week – one local and First Baptist in Frankfort. The local church was just minutes from my home, located just blocks away from Westwood and right across the street from Tennessee State University. Then I learned that transitions are never for your comfort, they are for the need that God has of you. After praying and fasting, God told me to go to Frankfort. The rest is history.
I say all of this to say to preachers and pastors that transitions come in all forms. Sometimes your assignment is complete. Sometimes your health cannot allow you to serve any longer. Sometimes God has another assignment. Sometimes God may call you home – even unexpectedly. I wish I had a profound answer as to why, but I don’t. What I try to do is serve and serve and serve until the Lord allows to experience transition.
I’m reminded of the transition that was made concerning Pastor Kirk. Here one day and then gone, tragically the next. My pastor, Minister Barton Elliott Harris always says, “the reason why we’re alive is because we have more work to do.” Pastor Kirk’s labors were done. The assignment that God gave him was completed. Although the circumstances were dramatic, God’s hands have now received a faithful servant.
My father in the ministry, Dr. A.B. Devers, I, took me to dinner one night at Denny’s after church and I’ll never forget it. A dear friend of his had just passed away and he wrote numbers from 0 to 100, and wrote “Where is Death?” Sadly, just about three years ago, Dr. Devers surrendered to the transition and now occupies his heavenly home.
So preacher, what should I do? Just serve the Lord, serve His people, do the best you can with what you have, serve faithfully, preach every time like it’s your last time, be instant in season and out of season, develop your mind, love on your family, bring your “A” game to the pulpit, don’t fall into lethargic pastoring and preaching, don’t let people talk you out of serving with excellence and love God. Your transition will come.
Whether it’s into your first pastorate – serve where you are with gladness until that transition. Give God your best.
Whether it’s into a new pastorate – serve where you are with gladness until that transition. Give God your best.
Whether it’s into retirement – serve where you are with gladness until that transition. Give God your best.
Or if it’s into that day when you trade off humanity for immortality; when you see He who was dead and is now alive forever more; when you trade in Stacey’s for slippers, Hickey Freeman suits for majestic robes, stetson hats for crowns – serve where you are with gladness until that transition. Give God your best.
A well-known and respected Youngstown spiritual leader has passed away.
Reverend Lonnie Simon retired from New Bethel Baptist Church in 1996, after serving the church for more than 30 years. The congregation honored Simon with music earlier this month.
His son, Kenneth, now leads the church.
Simon marched with Doctor Martin Luther King Junior during the Civil Rights movement.
“He is going to be greatly missed in this community. We don’t have or see those types of leaders coming up today. He was born and bred for leadership and his life exhibited that from the time that I’ve known him to the present,” said friend Dee Crawford.
Simon is survived by his wife, Florence.