This is such a cool story that I had to share. It was neat to me someone from my hometown area. But the story gets better. It is a true example of what rural ministry looks like. Thanks to @PastorQuill for shooting this with me
At Lead the Cause University (Dare2Share) I had breakfast with a seemingly random Youth Pastor from Jonesboro, AR. We got talking about where we were from, and he said the town and It was 15 miles away from where I grew up. I asked his last name, and it was one that I knew locally. I told him where I grew up and come to find out His grandparents were 1.5 miles from the farm I grew up on. We kept talking because it was getting interesting….
He asked if I was related to a guy by the name of Johnny Kuhnert. that He thought I might
be related to. He was right, it was my great uncle (grandmothers brother, dad’s side). This Youth pastor was getting excited. Then He shared why. My great uncle fished (hogging or noodling) for catfish in the local rivers with the grandfather of this youth pastor, and invited the grandfather to church. The grandfather said “no, but you can come get my 8 yr old son” (dad of the youth pastor). At that time this youth pastors grandparents, dad, and siblings were living in a dirt floor shack. My great uncle came to pick up the 8 year old, bought him new shoes for church. My great uncle was not rich, just a coal miner.He took this Youth pastor’s dad to church. He accepted Christ! The only one in a family of violence, poverty, alcohol, and jailtime. This man answered the call to become a pastor.
He raised his kids to know and love Christ, and two of his sons are now in ministry. All because my great uncle was sharing Christ wherever he went. This Youth Pastor’s dad was thrilled to know that a one of the descendants my great uncle is in full-time ministry. My mother knew the family as well, and it almost brought her to tears to know that a child of this rough family is impacting the world for Christ.
Another wrinkle to this story is that my father did the same things when I was young in Southern Illinois. He was just a farmer and coal miner who saw the need to bring children to Christ who were in unchurched homes filled with drugs, violence, poverty, and jail. He helped start a bus ministry in a local church once, Him and my mother would help churches retool their sunday school ministries as well. Today, we would call some of what they did “church revitalization”.
My dad’s father died when my dad was 16 years old. It makes me wonder if he saw the things his uncle was doing and decided he should do the same for Christ. My dad, Great Uncle, and Grandmother (Great uncle’s younger sister) are all dead now, so I don’t have much of a way of knowing this side of heaven.
It’s all about changing family trees.
That is Rural Ministry.