Simple Truth

Simple Truth with Shawn Parker

Made in Mississippi

I grew up in a little community called Acton, which is located in Tennessee just north of the Mississippi state line. Though I spent all my formative years in Tennessee, I feel like I owe my life to Mississippi Baptists.

For starters, I was born in Booneville, having been delivered by the hands of Dr. James Preston, a good Baptist doctor who practiced for years in northeast Mississippi. Years later, I had a medical emergency that might have taken me to heaven if it weren’t for the hands of another good Baptist doctor named David Chase.

Truthfully, I wouldn’t have arrived in this world as gracefully and might not have stayed as long without the skilled practice of these Mississippi Baptists.

I grew up in Michie Baptist Church in the sprawling metropolis (tongue is in cheek) of Michie, Tennessee. My childhood pastor was a man named Lathan Bray who was a native of Bruce and had prepared for the ministry at Clarke College, the Baptist-affiliated junior college in Newton that is no longer open.

I came to know the Lord, surrendered to the ministry, and grew in my faith under his pastoral leadership. When I was ten years old, Brother Bray invited a renowned north Mississippi evangelist to preach a week of revival services at our church. That evangelist’s name was Percy Ray, who was from Myrtle and was the instrument of the Holy Spirit to draw me to faith in Jesus Christ.

Years later, I met another Mississippian named Joe McKeever (Joe is actually from Alabama, but wishes he was from Mississippi) while serving in New Orleans. Joe became a good friend and cherished mentor, and was instrumental in my call to be the pastor of First Church, Columbus. He had served there as pastor from 1974 to 1986 and offered my name when they were looking for a pastor after the retirement of Dr. Bobby Douglas.

I spent seventeen years at that great church, during which I came to know a plethora of wonderful Mississippi Baptists. Among those many wonderful people is Dr. Jim Futral, whom I am honored to succeed as the Executive Director-Treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board.

Through these years, Dr. Futral has given encouragement and example that has quite often made the difference in my ministry. I, along with all Mississippians, are the benefactors of his leadership through these last 22 years. My hope is to build on the faithful foundation he has left.

I’ve mentioned a lot of names that have been keenly influential in my life and they are all Mississippi Baptists. Some of them are still with us, while others have gone home to Heaven.

Every one of them has played a significant role in my life for which I am deeply thankful. I hope you see what I mean when I say I owe my life, both physically and spiritually, to Mississippi Baptists.

I look forward to serving alongside you. If you need me, I stand ready to help in the name of Christ. In it all, may the glory and honor be His!

The author may be contacted at simpletruth@mbcb.org.