Sometimes life is filled with pleasant surprises, like my weekend recently. I had never been to Yucaipa, Calif., before. There are lots of ways to get there, but it’s still a good two hours from my home. Debbie drove with me as we went to help the Green Valley Christian Foursquare Church celebrate their 60th anniversary.
When I arrived, I was greeted by a smile that has longed been etched in my memory. Bill Hartness’ friendship with my father stretches back to the days of Life Bible College in the 1940s. He then succeeded my dad as pastor in Macon, Ga. I met Bill years ago, after he had moved to California, where he spent most of his ministry life. As we talked, there at Green Valley (where he also had pastored, some time back), his eyes misted as he recalled the fond times that he and his wife Gladys had with my folks.
Debbie and I sat down in the sanctuary beside a woman who gave us a copy of some of her poetry from over 70 years of Foursquare ministry. Greg Valdez, the current pastor at Green Valley, told us that this woman, Viola M. Robertson Layman, and her husband had pastored 14 churches and planted seven of them. Amazing! Then, we met Jerry Vaughn’s mom, who is over 100 years old. After that, we heard the amazing life story of Marie Davis, a spry 98-year-old. She still has her driver’s license, which doesn’t expire till 2011! She told me proudly that she had just renewed her Foursquare credentials for another year. This is just a sampling of the many highly esteemed men and women who have served our church.
We drove back to Santa Clarita, humbled by the fact that we are picking fruit from vines we did not plant, and living in homes that we did not build (Deuteronomy 6:10-12). The foundation of this movement was built by multitudes of people who responded to the call of God and prayers for laborers. They came, they studied, they prayed and fasted and they were shaped and bonded by the friendships they forged. Then they were sent, all around the world! We owe the heritage of The Foursquare Church to these heroes! They are Hall of Famers, all of them, if you ask me! Thank you, Lord, that I got to meet a few of them. My prayer is that my life can make a fraction of the difference their lives have made!