The Impact of a Rural Church on a Young Pastor from India
As a young boy growing up in India, I never thought that one day I would be serving as a pastor in the United States. Just this year, Bishop Davis appointed me to Level Woods UMC, along with my present charge at Wesley Meadows UMC (Elizabethtown District). I must say that it has been a wonderful experience meeting and serving the precious people of God here in the States.
Since the day I arrived at Wesley Meadows United Methodist Church in Hodgenville, Kentucky, I have received abundant love, care, and support not only from my parishioners but also from the community. I have personally experienced the gracious love of God flowing through people who did not look like me or speak my language. This is truly a connection from above, one ordained by Christ.
I would like to share my experiences with this church in five aspects: Physical, Education, Financial, Emotional, and Spiritual.
Physical: The parishioners fed me good ole’ southern cooking, corn bread and beans. At first, I was not used to this type of food, but now I like country food. However, I am still getting used to green beans. When I arrived at Wesley Meadows, five years ago, I was a 20-year-old skinny boy, but now I have gained some weight. Sorry, I will not mention how many pounds I have gained.
Education: I had to really get used to the country slang sayings. Let me share an example with you. One Sunday, during the worship service one of my members, Margaret Whitlock, was sharing about someone who was sick and concluded her prayer concern by saying, “He’s not out of the woods yet.” Well, I did not know what that meant and so I asked her, “If this person is sick, what is he doing in the woods?” At this the whole congregation erupted in laughter. Also, some of the other sayings that I have learnt are as follows: “Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, we will be at church,” “I have a frog in my throat,” and “hill of beans.” You talk about experience! I have and continue to have great learning experiences living in Hodgenville, which is also the birthplace of President Abraham Lincoln.
Financial: Being a rural country church, a majority of parishioners are on fixed income, but that did not hinder them from sending me to gain theological training at Asbury Seminary. Neither I personally nor my family could afford the tuition and boarding at Asbury Seminary, but these faithful people of God, invested in my life so that I could be trained as a spirit-filled, sanctified, evangelistic minister of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Emotional: Since being away from India, Wesley Meadows became my family in this foreign land. In times of loneliness, they have sat and listened to my pain. In times of discouragement, they have reminded me to “keep my chin up,” and to know that in every trial, “this too shall pass.” I am a firm believer that people of God are present all over the world.
A. Prayer- It is in the prayer room at Wesley Meadows where I experienced and learnt about the power of God, through prayer of tears and petitions to the Lord.
B. Faith- I learned that faith is the deep assurance in the Almighty God, who can solve every problem and bring us through every valley, trials and tests we face in this journey of life.
C. Holy Spirit- I learnt that being filled with the Holy Spirit is the key to living a victorious life. Holy Spirit not only gives us the power to preach but also reveals the depth of wisdom and treasure present in the scriptures.
D. Words of Wisdom- Five years ago, Bro. Eugene Centers, my mentor at Wesley Meadows, put his arm around me and kindly said, “Son, there is no preaching without the word of God.” By this statement, he encouraged me to always use the Bible in preaching. I thank God for the life of Bro. Centers and I wish every young preacher would have a mentor like him in their journey of ministry.
It is hard to mention all my experiences in this article, but I must boast in the Lord Jesus Christ, who through his grace united me with the precious saints here in Kentucky, so that we could be in ministry together. I also want to thank the living God for sending missionaries like Bishop Waskom Pickett, Bro. E. Stanley Jones, graduates of Asbury College, Kentucky, and Dr. Sewell Woodward of our conference to serve as his witnesses in India. I am the fruit of the labor of such dedicated missionaries, which has come back to the United States to testify that their labor in Christ has not been in vain.
To God be all Glory and Honor,
Pastor Andrew Singh
Wesley Meadowlarks, combined choir of Wesley Meadows UMC and Level Woods UMC, singing at church in Larue County