Hey guys,

My story is a little bit different than yours because I was not raised in the Independent Baptist circle. I was raised in an SBC church in Statesville, NC where my dad led the music and taught Sunday School, mom taught SS also and sang the most beautiful alto that you would ever hear, and we were there every week. No ‘Awana’; RA’s. I could listen to any music I chose as long as we didn’t play it too loud. I went to the movies and concerts. But because of an erroneous Youth Sunday School teacher that said that only 144K would be in Heaven, I quickly decided that I was going to miss that boat so if I was going to hell…let’s go all out at it. Got married at 19, became a dad, joined the Navy at 20 in 1981 and wound up in Charleston, SC for my duty station onboard ship. My salvation came after hearing the testimony of a shipmate of mine in 1983, so we began looking for a church once I got back in from sea. We landed at an SBC church in North Charleston, but my wife began attending Trident Baptist after being invited by our neighbors while I was out to sea. She was raised in an Independent Church, so this was a fit for her.  When I got back in from sea, I went to the IFB church with her and my initial thoughts were, “These people are nuts!” But I enjoyed the energy that was in their services, the emphasis on personal evangelism and the folks were just down-right friendly so we joined. I was baptized by Pastor Mike Haynes, a Hyles-Anderson graduate. Almost immediately, the ‘standards’ issue came up and I got sucked in with the emotionalism. I’ve listened to Hyles, Malone, Gray, Ruckman, Maze Jackson, Hudson and Hutson and became fully indoctrinated in the IFB banter. I had a subscription to “The Sword of the Lord.” Got out of the Navy in ’85, came back to Statesville, NC and joined another IFB Church named Harvest where I surrendered to preach in 1988. Started going to Blue Ridge Bible College in ’89 and that school soon became a ‘satellite’ campus (loosely) of Tennessee Temple because all of the lead faculty and President were Temple grads. I remember well preaching at a “KJV Jubilee” and Dr. Lee Roberson being in the congregation…he took notes of my message. But it started going south in 1990 when I was contacted by an SBC Church about coming there and becoming their Youth Minister. I spoke to the SBC pastor about that position and began searching for God’s will in what to answer. As soon as my IFB pastor at Harvest Baptist found out I was speaking to an SBC Church, my wife and I were removed from our teaching positions, we could no longer serve in Children’s Church, I was removed from the preaching schedule at the area nursing homes and could no longer work in the Bus Ministry. He also contacted the school I was attending and informed the school that I ‘was leaving the doctrines of the faith’ and that I should be asked to repent or leave. He showed up at our house on Saturday morning to ‘call me out’. On Sunday, I was called an apostate from the pulpit…and our ‘friends’ endorsed his condemnation with a hearty “Amen!” while lifting their KJV’s over their heads. My wife was livid! On the way home my oldest daughter (9 yrs.) asked, “Daddy, what’s an apostate?” I said, “Honey don’t you worry about that. The apostate is a gland that men have, and women don’t.” She said, “Why would he call you a gland?” I shrugged my shoulders, looked at my shocked wife and read her lips as she told me that I was going to hell for lying. I prayed and the Holy Ghost gave me peace as I read in Hebrews 13:6, “So that we may boldly say, the Lord is my Helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” We took the Youth position. We were told that we were committing “spiritual suicide.” But I was allowed to remain in school and the faculty endorsed my decision by saying, “Those Southern Baptists are going to teach you how to love the people that we don’t. We need to work on that.” We’ve never looked back as God began to bless. But still today if I speak to an SBC Church about coming onboard as Senior Pastor, after 31 years, I still have to answer the question, “Are you Southern Baptist?” Currently, I’m the Senior Pastor of Sandy Creek Baptist in Jetersville, VA and our SBCV Church sits right on the edge of Sailor’s Creek Battlefield. The windows of Heaven are open, and God is still blessing. Before coming here, I helped start 5 Cowboy Churches in NC and learned to love a culture that is way different than what I was accustomed to…we worshipped on Thursdays. God has been so good to us, and I’ll echo what Brother Craig Edwards said, “I wouldn’t go back if I could.” I give God the Glory for it all in the Mighty Name of Jesus Christ! Brian, I’m not sure if I ever heard your dad preach but I had definitely heard of him while I was still in the IFB. We run through Danville on the way home. Maybe we can connect someday. But that’s my story guys and hope that it can help someone.