1 Peter 4:10 (NIV): "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms."
Shortly after I was hired at Forest Hills Baptist Church, the Mother’s Day Out director left me a message saying she needed to speak with me. When we met, she said she needed to show me something. I followed her to a flower bed just outside one of the entrances to our adult education area. She walked into the flower bed and stood next to a beautiful rose bush. I had noticed this bush in the past. The petals were a deep crimson with a texture like velvet. The stems were bent over under the weight of hundreds of blooms. It was magnificent!
This lady was a long-time member and considered herself to be an unofficial church historian. I could tell by her expression that this particular rose bush was important to her. She declared, "this is 'Preston’s rose' and it is special." My response was, "Who is Preston and why is this rose bush so special?" Her face lit up as she shared the legend of Preston’s rose. She explained that Preston was the very first custodian at the church. He was an older black man working at this all-white church. The original sanctuary and two-story educational building were finished in 1961. Preston was the entire facilities staff. He did everything and he did it well.
Preston loved the Lord. Preston loved THE Church. Preston loved our church and its members. Forest Hills Baptist members loved Preston. One day the pastor came to Preston and told him that the church was about to expand and build a new adult education building. He also told Preston that they would hire a helper that he would supervise. Preston said he was confident that he could handle the additional space and didn’t need any help. The pastor explained that the church appreciated his efforts but wanted to make things easier for him. Preston replied that he had never been a boss, didn’t want to be a boss, and would never be a boss. He was adamant that he could handle the new building.
When the new building was finished, Preston bought the rose bush and planted it outside the new building’s entrance. He lovingly cared for the roses just like he did everything else. The church and the rose bush flourished. As the church grew, the buildings were used more and more. After a couple of years, Preston realized that he could not handle everything by himself. Rather than accept a helper, he announced his retirement. The church showed its appreciation by throwing a retirement party in his honor. Tears ran down his face as the members shared their memories of his nine years of service. As he left the church for the last time, he stopped and watered his beautiful rose bush.
A new custodian and a part-time helper were hired. As the pastor showed the new man around, he asked him to take special care of Preston’s rose. The new guy had a hard time living up to the standard that Preston had set. He was constantly told that he wasn’t doing things the same way Preston did them. Sometimes he heard that Preston did a better job than he did.
One day as the pastor was leaving, he saw the new custodian attacking Preston’s rose bush with a garden hoe. When the pastor asked him why he was doing that, he replied, “I’m sick of hearing about Preston and how he did things.” The two of them went inside to talk about the situation. The pastor thought things would improve; they did not. A few weeks later, a member caught him pouring motor oil on the rose bush in another attempt to kill it. He was fired on the spot. Preston’s rose survived.
As the lady finished the story, I asked her what happened to Preston. She explained that Preston died a few years later and his funeral was held at our church. It was one of the biggest funerals the church had ever had. Everyone talked about how much he loved the Lord and how much he loved this church. And then, she looked at me and asked, “How will you be remembered when you leave?”
For 18 years, I made sure that the bush was well taken care of. Every time I hired a new employee, they were told the legend of Preston’s rose. In 2018, the church announced plans for a major expansion. The flower bed that contained Preston’s rose would be under the new building. So, that fall we carefully dug up that famous rose bush and moved it to a new location. Today, the rose is struggling in its new location. It has survived for a year, but just barely. I never thought that someday I would be praying for a rose bush!
One day, just like Preston, we will all leave the churches where we serve. How will you be remembered? What will your legacy be? I hope they remember Gary Robinson as a man that loved the Lord and this church.
Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (NIV):
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Blessings to all,
Introducing the NACFM 2020 Conference Keynote Speaker
Jeff Struecker is a decorated soldier. At age 18, he enlisted in the United States Army as an Infantryman and retired as a Chaplain with over 22 years of active federal service. In 2017, he was inducted into the US Army Ranger Hall of Fame.
He served for ten years in the 75th Ranger Regiment in positions from Private to Platoon Sergeant. While serving in this unit, Jeff won the David L. Grange Best Ranger Competition in 1996. He taught ROTC at the University of Louisville and was recognized in 1998 as the US Army ROTC, Noncommissioned Officer of the year. Jeff spent his final ten years in the US Army serving as a chaplain in Airborne and Ranger units.
Throughout his career, Jeff has attended numerous professional military schools and has received many awards and commendations. Some of his awards include the Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Pathfinder Badge, Master Parachutists Wings, Military Freefall Master Parachutist Wings, several foreign jump wings and the Combat Action Badge. He has been awarded other commendations and decorations throughout his military career.
His combat experience includes participation in the invasion of Panama, Operation Desert Storm, Black Hawk Down in Somalia, and more than a dozen combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Jeff has been awarded medals for valor in combat and has received many medals as recognition for his service in the US Army.
Jeff holds a Ph.D. from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. He also has several other earned and honorary degrees.
Jeff in an award-winning author with five books in print. He and his wife, Dawn, have five children and two grandchildren.
Church Security - A Critical Element in Today's Church Ministry
If tragedy or disaster struck your church or campus, would you as a Facilities Manager be ready?
Over the past few years, one of the most requested conference sessions continues to be church security. At this year's conference, Lionheart International Service Group will lead a multipart security training as well as breakout sessions.
Federally certified trainers will provide training on critical incident response and management. Learn how your church and your team should respond to a critical incident. They will help you shape a response that brings organization out of chaos. You will be equipped with important and foundational aspects of critical incident preparation and response.
Session 1 - “Security as a Ministry” will help you bridge the conversation between church and security that many leaders struggle over by providing biblical foundations for protecting the campus.
Session 2 - This session includes live training that covers the importance of gun safety, concealed carry, live shooter, protests, disturbances, as well as techniques for positioning and how to position safety team members properly.
In addition to the two main sessions, Lionheart International will also lead breakout sessions. One will be the MILO Range System and another titled, “Before the Bang: Preparing the Mind and Body for Crisis.”
These presentations provide vital, critical information for all aspects of a church and the various ministries therein. The NACFM is excited and thankful to be able to provide this very important learning experience at the 2020 National Conference. Don't miss this!
Click here for video presentation of what to expect.
Chris Farnsworth - Matthews, NC
Israel Garcia - Nashville, TN
Tim Hare - Carrolton,TX
Bruce Hough - Columbia, SC
Richard Jones - Marietta, GA
Brandon Lanham - Nashville, TN
Barrie Royal - Clarksville, TN
Rodney Rupp - Archbold, OH
Perry Shipman - Boerne, TX