The Country Preacher–Writing 101

This is my assignment about the most interesting person I’ve met this year.

It has been an interesting summer as we have traveled to see grandkids in Alabama and Tennessee, then to West Virginia to visit my brother-in-law and his family, and go to family reunion there.

It is our practice to find a church to attend wherever we go. While we were in Jackson, Tennessee we found a small church on Bedford White Road called White’s Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. The pastor there is the subject of this assignment.

Bobby Keene has no formal pastoral training. He lives in Lexington, about thirty miles away from the church. He’s country to the core. There is no eloquence in his speech. He’s just country. He mispronounces words with the best of them. He loves to sing and play his guitar. But most of all he loves God and the flock that he ministers to.

Brother Bobby comes to church in blue jeans and a plaid shirt. He speaks with a deep southern twang to rival Alan Jackson. He can’t stand still when he’s preaching. He leaves the pulpit and comes down to where you’re sitting, Bible in hand, and looks eye-to-eye with you as he tells you “What the Good Book” says. He doesn’t give his opinions without stating that this is his understanding of the Scripture. He invites anyone to correct him if they know he’s wrong in his thinking or understanding. He’s not afraid to cry over his sin, and admit that he’s still a sinner (just like the rest of us who are sinners saved by grace). When he preaches about what God has done, and is doing in his life, his voice cracks and his round face turns red as he swallows his tears. He remembers what it cost his Dear Savior to save his soul.

Bobby is not real tall, about five feet, nine inches or so. He’s round in the belly but not a real large man. He likes to eat (like any good Baptist, especially fried chicken) and the church has a potluck supper every second Wednesday evening in the fellowship hall, where they also have prayer meeting and Bible study. He doesn’t need a haircut very often: it’s the old 40’s style military haircut. His blue eyes light up every time he smiles, which is most of the time. Laughter bubbles forth from him as he talks and as he preaches. Church rarely gets started right on the dot. He sits down and visits with folks as they come in. He’s just country.

Bobby is friendly to everyone he meets. There is not a single person that would not be welcome at this church. The congregation is as friendly as its pastor. They all greet newcomers with a smile and a handshake. They give hugs if the newcomer is the first one to hug: they don’t want to be too forward, thereby causing offense.

Bobby’s wife stays home due to a lingering illness. It grieves him to leave her there but he felt led of God to take on this poastorate, and he’s good at it. He keeps in touch with the people under his watch and prays for them continually. There is no deceit and no pride in this man. He does his best to live what he believes. He admits to the congregation when he falls short and seeks their prayers. He truly is a humble servant of God.

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