In 1835 a one room schoolhouse sat adjacent to this site. In 1935 it was torn down and the current school was built. Beverly has good memories of going to school in this old school house that served generations of students in the Minford area. She has fond memories of my long time friends Donald Shoemaker and Dave Canter being her teachers at the old Swauger Valley School. When the new Minford schools were built it eventually reverted back to ownership by the Harrison Township Trustees.
Just next door is the Swauger Valley Freewill Baptist Church where Beverly and I had determined to extend a visit for a Sunday morning worship service.
On this 43rd visit to worship with believers in a Scioto County Ohio church it turned out that we had arrived on Pastor appreciation day.
It was Deacon Wayne Donahoe who opened the service and spoke throughout the morning.
He opened the service by saying “I am glad we have this place. There is a difference between a Pastor and a preacher. There has got to be a love for the people of a church and brother Mike fills this role”. He said, “we need to show them how much we love them”, and that is what the church sat out to do all morning long.
Students from the the Junior church came forward to sing a song, “Cornerstone”. It went something like this, “Trust in Jesus…. He is Lord….Through the storm, Lord of all! The youth leader came forward and said we usually have moreteens here than this. She said, “we are thankful for the Pastor and thankful for the Lord”.
The Pastor of Swauger Valley Freewill Baptist Church is Mike Simpson and the Youth Pastor is Scotty Bradford.
Probably as many as a dozen congregation members stood to credit the Pastor for his work in the church, serving the Lord. One fellow said, “I am thankful for the Christmas play I attended. The Pastor had knocked on my door one Saturday morning inviting me to church. Another said that they had laid in the hospital fourty days with Pastor Mike spending much time sitting by my side. Person after person stood with similar stories. Some shared similar kind remarks about Youth Pastor Scotty expressing the good influence he has with the young people of this church.
Speaking of Pastor Mike one said, “how many knocks at the door have saved someone here tonight. One said, “he always has a heart for good, really cares and does a lot for our people, exemplifying a good Pastor.
Then it was back to Deacon Wayne who said, “When you are praising His man you are lifting up Christ. I Love these testomonies”.
The Pastor was called forward and he played down the recognition to himself. He said, “I never looked at it as a job. I could never do it without the deacons, the Sunday School teachers, Scott, Bryan and others”. He said he has been in this capacity as Pastor ten years coming this February. Lastly, he said “God Bless” and let us just keep lifting up Jesus!
Speaking once again Deacon Wayne said, “he is behind the Pastor on the way he wants to see the church grow. If it grows spiritually, it will grow otherwise! The only way it works is to be in the same accord. We will only be as strong as our weakest link. Get behind your preacher”! The Pastor’s wifes name is Laura.
Then he called for the youth Pastor to come forward and give us some of your foolishness, as Bryan jokingly called it.
He pointed out that Pastors have a part in drawing people to a local church. He also pointed out that he and Mike have good wives and helpmates who have helped along the way. He said that his wife Jamey had influenced the message he was giving on this morning. But God has led me to deliver the message today. His opening prayer, “Lord, we pray God that today they (congregation) will be lifted up. In Jesus name, Amen”.
Pastor Scott referred to Galations chapter 6. So I went there and found verse seven to say, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that will he also reap.” Verse 8 says, “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the spirit will of the spirit reap everlasting life”. Pastor Scott pointed out that if you plant corn seeds, corn will come from the ground. If you plant tomato seeds in the ground, tomatoes will come from the ground. Sow what we sow, that is what we will reap. He said to the congregation, God is not mocked. Do what God would have you to do. “Judas touched the very bread that Christ broke. He saw the miracles of Jesus but he mocked Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. He said that all should devour the words of God, the very word of God is given to each of you. Then he asked, “what are you doing as a Christian that is against will. Are you willing to sell out for thirty pieces of silver”. He again emphasized that what a man soweth, so he will also reap. Then he pointed out that some people may sow hatred in a church, there are some things that should not be there. It is possible to sow bad seeds through distrust, back biting and hate. False witness is a punishable sin. God hates it when we speak badly about one and another. If you say something bad about someone in your church they are going to remember that. Sometimes we need to go back and apologize to God for these things.We are going to reap exactly what we sow in our gardens.
Scotty pointed out a challenge for the day. What are each of you sowing? Brother Mike has obviously sowed a lot of good seeds. Each of you here are planting seeds. What kinds of seeds are you throwing into your garden? Maybe someone here today needs to think about where you are getting your seeds. Planting seeds of corruption are a mockery to God. Spread the good seeds outside, go to all the world. The Bible say to plant your seeds outside, not in the tabernacle. “He who sows sparingly, will yield sparingly”. I encourage you to plant good seeds and to plant them plentifully.
A closing song was, “Have thine oh way Lord”. There was a brief alter call. Following was Prayer with an invitation to a special dinner in the fellowship hall next door. In his closing remarks Brother Scott said of the free dinner, “today we are going to be freemeal baptists”. We are not called Freewill Baptists for nothing.
Of particular interest to Beverly and I was that posted above the pulpit was our long time theme and saying “Each one, reach one”!
As believers, let us share the Good News! Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World! Each one, reach one!
See ya in church!
Reach Randy Rucker at Ohiorancher5@gmail.com.