August 20th, 2010

Gearing Up Can Be Daunting For A Layman

By: Ken Bugh

My bride, Liz and I were gifted by the Lord with the blessing of serving six months as the interim pastor for Thornaby Baptist Church in North East England. The experience changed our lives.

The “Call” came at a time in our lives when we could make the move across the Atlantic and we, by affirming circumstances, knew God’s desire was for us to serve in England. For twenty years prior, both of us were involved in many different service positions for our church with being a bible study teacher the only constant. A Bible study teacher, not a preacher … meaning, no pulpit experience. Hear this, “no preaching experience.”

Accepting the call, while still a very prayer filled endeavor was easy because God’s leading was clearly delineated. Liz and I were determined to be obedient. That said, realizing the enormity of what we were stepping into was a whole other matter.

Thornaby Baptist Church UK

Thornaby Baptist Church

Frankly, I was nervous and at the same time thrilled with the opportunity to be used by our Lord to make a difference in a way for us, never experienced before. Who could know but God, that my service in England would become a pivotal time in my walk with Christ and ignite a desire to share the Gospel message like never before.

Pulpit experience came by way of invitations to “supply” preach at area churches and even an invitation to serve a three weeks interim position in West Texas for a church in the process of pastor search.

The Lord led me through the sermon preparation and presentation and I begin to experience His hand holding through the entire endeavor. He taught me that if I would first be faithful to study and pray, then He would be faithful to use what I retained and prepared to mold it into what He wanted to be presented. He taught me to realize the messages would be His and that He would be standing with me as I stood for Him behind a pulpit. He never failed to be there with and for me. This partnership in ministry is the most remarkable realization. It’s truly a Divine unity with His chosen servant.

My confidence strengthen, I was ready to go. Liz trusting my confidence was ready as well and excited by the prospect of the experience.

Finally, the time came for Liz and I to make our move to England. We packed the essentials (who packs for a six month stay anywhere?), selected the very basic reference books I felt were necessary, made sure I had a good Bible software loaded on my laptop and headed to the airport.

We flew to London’s Gatwick airport, gathered our baggage (whew!!), like a caravan maneuvered the mountain size mound of luggage to the airport rail station and loaded ourselves on a train headed to what we would soon be calling “our” Teeside rail station. From there, it was a short drive to our new England home/parsonage. In England a parsonage is called a manse.

92 Lane House Road, Thornaby, Teeside, TS17 8EA

Thornaby Manse, 92 Lane House Road, Thornaby, Teeside, TS17 8EA

We both began serving in the church, the community and even the local schools.

Liz initiated a young girls ministry she called “Chicks Nite” at our Lane House Road manse; they met every Thursday evening. Local teens from our neighborhood and church came over and Liz led them in a short devotional and prayer time; from there, she taught them how to make everything from jewelry to hand-made cards and many other created items. The girls ranged in age from thirteen to eighteen and our home was filled with laughter and fun. I served as the taxi driver and then pretty much stayed away after that. It was a great time to spend in my little “pocket office”, tucked away in an upstairs bedroom in sermon preparation. I only went downstairs in time to eat the snacks Liz prepared.

The six months flew by and much was accomplished. The Lord allowed us to lead seventeen adults to Him and begin baptizing for the first time in many years at Thornaby Baptist. We lived among the most wonderful people and served with many committed Believers to grow a village church.

Since returning, I’ve had many, many opportunities to preach in churches. And now serve as the permanent volunteer pastor for a retirement center in my hometown. Since England, God has given me a pastor’s heart and circumstances for application wherever He leads me. This has been an amazing time in my walk with the Lord.