When God opened the door for our family to move to First Baptist Church in Kingsville in 1985, I had several trusted friends who urged me not to go. Some were concerned about the reputation of the church to which I was being called. They had been in a series of years of struggle much of which concerned a disconnect with pastors. Others flatly stated that I would “kill my career” by moving to South Texas. That statement invited this response, “I don’t have a career. I have a call from God.” In fact it was the ten years in South Texas that helped shape me for the ministry. Our ministry in Kingsville was miraculous and filled with meaning. There is something about the lands south of San Antonio that stir my heart as to what the work of God is really all about. The pastors who serve there often serve in obscurity. During my years there, I would have former friends say things like “I thought you moved out of state, or I thought you left the ministry.” Those who serve there often must train up every leader who serves by their side. There is a constant need for committed leaders and teachers to disciple those who are reached. If they can afford staff, it is often difficult to get staff people to leave the Dallas metropolitan, Houston, Austin, or San Antonio areas to come to the lands of South Texas. I had several experiences while there talking to people who were serving part time in Dallas, but preferred that to serving on my staff in Kingsville. It is strange how people who claim God has called them to ministry sometimes seem to feel that the call is restricted to places where they would rather live and serve.
To my brothers and sisters who serve in South Texas, I say: You are doing a vital work. Be faithful, and God will make you fruitful. You are even now seeing the future of our entire state. What you are learning and experiencing will be necessary to the future leaders of Texas. “I thank God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:3-6)