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A Weekend to Remember

This past weekend, the family of God at FBC, Broken Arrow, OK, prepared and presented the most humbling, powerful, beautiful, and Christ-honoring recognition for this pastor who has had the great privilege of serving FBCBA for 33 years.  I am beginning my 50th year of ministry so the church “rolled those two big events” (50 years in ministry and 33 years at FBCBA) into one grand celebration in a worship service where we gathered yesterday.  It was truly overwhelming for me.

In that 90 minutes, those that prepared the program had arranged for people to send videos of greeting and well-wishes.   Two very special friends, Dr. Anthony Jordan and Dr. Jimmy Draper spoke words of blessing to the congregation.  One of the “guests” who sent a letter to be read was George Aguilar, the young man who “broke into our church and found Jesus”.  He is now a pastor in El Salvador and loves our LORD deeply.  Our music ministry combined the praise band, pianist, orchestra, praise team, and a full choir to lead a packed house in great songs of faith.  Dr. Pat Taylor, Dr. Will Smallwood, and Dr. Susan DeWoody totally surprised me by awarding me an Honorary Doctor of Ministry Degree from OBU.  I was totally astonished by their act of kindness.

As a part of the recognition, the church gave Jenine and me a very generous retirement package that was so very much appreciated.  The kindness of this church body to us has been “exceeding, abundantly above all that we could ask or think” in every way during our years of service and in caring for us as we retire. Thank you FBCBA!

In recent weeks, our church leadership had encouraged our people to give a gift in honor of the Garland’s to the church’s building fund to expedite the construction of the new facility in Coweta Community Baptist.  And, at the close of the morning service, it was announced this morning that our people had given $380,000 for that gift today.  Praise the LORD, indeed! 

All of the celebration really began with a church wide reception on Saturday as the church folks came to speak words of kindness and farewells.  It was extremely humbling to have “proclamations and resolutions” from the city, our State Senate, from our Governor Stitt, from Congressman Kevin Hern, Senator James Lankford, and from State Senator John Haste.   It was announced at the reception that there would be a street named ‘NICK GARLAND CIRCLE’ in the Neighborhoods Retirement Center that adjoins our church campus. I never would have thought all of those nice things would ever be done for a boy from a small town in Tennessee. 

Our English language is excellent at developing very specific scientific, technological, and “computerese” terms to describe so many things.  However when it comes to something as deeply rooted as the feeling of gratitude, we use the same word “thank you” to express that we are grateful for a bottle of water when we thirst, for the great job a surgeon did to remove a malignant tumor successfully, or to express one’s deepest gratitude for getting to be on the receiving end of incredible kindness.

I wish I had a better, more inclusive, captivating, expansive expression, but English jargon uses “thank you” to say it all.  So, with the sincerest heart of gratitude, a very blessed spirit of appreciation, and a prayer for you to be blessed as you have blessed us, I say enthusiastically, “Thank you!”  We love you all….