5352 cdd Champions for Christ
Scripture: Philippians 3:18
“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the Cross of Christ:” KJV
Pastor Carol and I visited Foley, Alabama, some years ago and stayed at the New Life In Christ Church Prophet Chamber. Our Hosts Pastors Paul and Carolyn Wilde were warm, friendly and very giving during our stay. We left fully revived and invigorated to proceed with Cross plantings into the future. At that time, we discussed the possibility of returning and planting a Cross for them. The possible site in mind was covered by a beautiful tree. The idea of a Cross was tabled.
Fast forward to 2018 and two tornadoes surrounded Foley, Alabama causing severe damage. Then September 16, 2020 hurricane Sally arrived, more damage ensued. Before everyone could assess damage and regroup hurricane Zeta arrived nine weeks later. When the accumulated damage was surveyed massive repairs were needed to their church and most of seven out buildings. Trees snapped leaving twisted debris everywhere. The cleanup process still goes on today.
This year when we were headed into Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to plant Crosses on our way to Georgia we called to discuss spending time again with them in their Prophet Chamber. We learned the chamber we would use was just restored and would be available for us. And we learned that the massive tree hindering the spot for the Cross from our last visit was taken down by the punishing tornadoes and two back to back hurricanes. Pastor Paul and Carolyn asked for a Cross.
Planting a Cross can be complicated. In one of the top ten largest cities in the USA, by population, a church was refused even a request to submit a permit for a Cross. They planted it anyways!
A proud city of an NFL Franchise, that played in several Super Bowls, holds a church that refused to request a Cross permit because it was “no use” to discuss anything that would expand their Church footprint. They feared, “just a simple request would open a flood of retribution” and they had to live there.
In another major city a church who wanted a Cross decided to not even try to confront a permit request for a Cross out of “dread of reprisal.”
We are learning that planting a Cross tests our resolve to testify boldly for The Lord Jesus Christ.
Today we celebrate our 317th ccm Cross of Hope. Location is Foley, Alabama with Pastors Paul and Carolyn Wilde. Their life with Christ and eight children has established an example of faith for what lies ahead for the church — they are truly Champions for Christ.
Perhaps days are coming when we as Christians will be placed in a situation of boldly choosing Jesus or a world awash in secular humanism.
So, allow me to share with you the challenges in the words of Carolyn of their journey to plant a Cross, at their church of 35 years in Foley, Alabama, during hurricane restoration.
Their story begins in 1986 when they first arrived in Foley, Alabama, on assignment from the Lord, for New Life In Christ Church.
Carolyn explains 8 reasons they were called on to boldly stand up for The Lord Jesus Christ.
WHY THE CROSS IS HATED:
“For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the Cross of Christ.” I Corinthians 1:18 + Philippians 3:18 KJV
WHY WE ARE HATED:
“… ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” Matthew 24:9 KJV
Pastor Paul and Carolyn stood up for Jesus in a hostile Christian situation when requesting a permit for their Cross on church grounds. Here are Carolyn’s 8 reasons they were harassed:
“Reason 1. We stopped the custom of burning Crosses in the city park that had been done for years immediately following the annual Christmas parades. In 1986, the first year we were here, we went before the Kiwanis Club, the sponsor of the event. They voted to stop supporting the burning of the Crosses. Burning Crosses was defended as a “pagan custom” in Foley’s newspaper by the most powerful and largest employer in the area.
Reason 2. The “most worshipful master” of the Freemasons attended our church, accepted Jesus as his Most Worshipful Master. He withdrew from Masonry with a testimony, became a faithful deacon, and worked for Christ until his death. His widow still greets people at our church door.
Reason 3. We stopped the worst bill in the nation against illegal aliens that was about to be enacted in Alabama. We wrote a small booklet named “What Would Jesus Do In Alabama” that stated why we could not abide by Alabama law if it was passed.
Churches and citizens would be banned from offering food, lodging, or transportation to an “alien” without fear of severe penalties and court trials. No citizen could even offer a starving child a piece of bread or a drink of water. It would be illegal to transport a dying alien to seek medical help. The “good Samaritan” Jesus commended would face severe penalties for breaking the law, if he dared to help a wounded person in Alabama.
A representative who supported the bill visited our church when he came to our area on vacation. He read our booklet, got several copies, took them to the Montgomery, Alabama, Capital and the bill was rewritten to allow us to continue to feed the hungry and minister to those with needs.
Reason 4. It is against the law to pass out tracts in Foley. We cannot discontinue our practice of giving Scripture cards to people who desperately need God’s Word – pure Truth – in these days when lies abound.
Reason 5. It is against the law to be homeless in Foley. The homeless are transported by the police to the county line and dropped off. Every effort to open a mission here has failed. We continue to minister to the homeless in Jesus’ name, and have helped many find Christ and become established.
Reason 6. Hundreds of witches ride bicycles through Foley, Alabama streets in honor of Halloween on a designated day in October. We stated their intentions to curse, rather than bless, and included the Scriptures warning against witchcraft. We presented our objections to the city. The witches continue their ride.
Reason 7. Due to the corona virus panic in 2020, churches were only allowed to have a maximum of 9 people in attendance. We have seven buildings on our property. We held two services in 6 of them on Easter Sunday. We had six preachers, chaplains, or teachers, who faithfully ministered God’s Word and offered prayer in each service. We held evening services in the same way. We continued this practice for three weeks, then resumed regular services in obedience to our King’s command to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, especially in these end days.
Reason 8. We feed the hungry with our food program, providing meals to all who come. We were blessed to give nearly 85 tons of food to 10,585 families in 2020. We served more than 14,000 free meals in 2020. As of this date in 2021, our food distribution ministry has expanded.
We also have a clothes room. Everything is given, not sold. Many homeless and destitute people of all races come to our church for food and clothing. Jesus told us that the poor would always be among us. He has instructed us to feed the hungry and provide clothing to those in need. Some would rather see them leave the city, rather than be fed in the city.
We also give food and clothes to many who are neither destitute nor homeless, but they have no income to purchase food at its rapidly escalating cost. The virus has closed their businesses. As a result, many employees have lost their jobs.
For these 8 reasons, we consider it a miracle that the city gave us permission to grant any request that we presented to the Board of Appeals. We are disappointed that they diminished the height of the Cross by ten feet, but they also reminded us that they could ban it as “an accessory structure in the front yard.
We are so thankful that they granted us a unanimous vote to erect the Cross. We pray that those who pass by the Cross will be reminded of the supreme sacrifice Jesus made, in order to save all of us who come to Him from our sins.
Our one purpose is to love and serve our risen Lord forever.”
Editor Comment: Pastor Paul and Carolyn have stood up for Jesus whenever possible. They stand up under difficult circumstances as Champions for Christ.
Our current day super charged political atmosphere in the USA emboldens those who hold contrary thinking to our Christian principles. Some choose to stand down and watch what will happen while others stand up for Jesus Christ to protect our rights.
Pastor Carol and I have enjoyed reading Paul’s and Carolyn’s testimony of living for Christ. Miracle after miracle showered down the love and grace of the Lord in ways that only the God of our universe could supply. Their faithfulness had a price that they were blessed to pay!
Their life story is contained in a book Carolyn has written — We Have Come This Far By Faith — and you can read how through the years the Lord has provided for their every need as Champions for the Lord Jesus Christ.
You can purchase their book We Have Come This Far By Faith on their church website New Life In Christ Church, Foley, AL by Clicking Here.
Prayer: Father thank you for establishing Champions for Christ as examples to us all of how to stand up for Jesus. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
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