03 Feb Still following by Faith 40 years and counting – ‘If you can see it, that ain’t it.’
“I think the spirit of history is still leading us and guiding us — I believe in that.” – U.S. Rep John Lewis
On the shallow surface, 40 years is but a single drip in the bucket of time, but as we dive a little deeper, 40 years is comprised of 480 months, 14,600 days, 350,400 hours, 21,024,000 minutes and 1,261,440,000 seconds — and each of those seconds presents an opportunity to do the right or wrong thing.
Forty years ago, Willie L. Reid made the decision to stop running from the purpose God had put on his life and founded Fellowship Bible Baptist Church. It was a tumultuous time. A lot was going on in the world. The cost of a gallon of gasoline was $1.19; the average price for a new home was $68,000, and while we might wish for those good ‘Old days, we would do well to think again.
In 1980, Jimmy Carter was president of the United States. Inflation was more than 13 percent compared to 1.17 percent in 2019. The U.S. rescue attempt to save 52 American hostages in Tehran, Iran, failed — and that would lead to the election of Ronald Reagan in a landslide victory in November. Ted Turner’s Cable News Network (CNN) made its debut in 1980, coinciding with troubling storm clouds appearing on the American horizon. John Lennon, the former Beatle, was murdered by Mark David Chapman outside his apartment in Manhattan, and most of the country was more concerned with “Who Shot JR”, on the popular prime time soap opera “Dallas,” than affairs of the world.
It is in that atmosphere, which has only grown more toxic, that Pastor Reid founded his ministry on teaching the Holy Word of God in a storefront in Buzzell Village in Warner Robins – which at the time had a population of just 39,600.
While we can add all of the months, days, hours and seconds, it is still amazing that a church, born in a storefront, now occupies the Faith Dome, a landmark facility perched on 48 acres of land that seats thousands. The Faith Dome is now the centerpiece of a five-building campus.
How has a church grown so much so quickly? Simply by faith. Pastor Reid had a saying concerning faith: “If you can see it, that ain’t it.” Time and time again, he challenged his congregation to have an active faith and through his leadership, FBBC has lived out Hebrews 11:1 — “Now faith is confidence in
what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Pastor Reid’s fervent teaching of the Word of God and his constant reminders that each and every person needed their own personal relationship with God, has kept FBBC on the narrow path to the Lord — even during trying times. And there were none more trying than what occurred May 4, 2012, just 16 months after Pastor Reid and the rest of the Fellowship Family marched across the street — from the old sanctuary to the Faith Dome — that our beloved founder was called home on the strains of Matt. 25: 21, Well done, good and
faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.
The Fellowship pulpit was empty for the first time in 32 years — and yet because Pastor Reid had taught his congregation to exercise faith, Fellowship survived. When the call went out that FBBC was searching for a new pastor, responses poured in from 29 states and three foreign countries. Still, the pulpit committee, led by prayer, weren’t directed to choose any of the almost 200 applicants. The search began anew.
Three years after Pastor Reid’s death, the Lord sent Pastor Tolan Morgan and First Lady Laneen Morgan, all the way from Detroit, Mich., to guide the FBBC flock. The church, under Pastor Morgan’s leadership, has continued to grow. FBBC still rides on the promises of the Lord and maintains that, “If you can see it, that ain’t it.”
Written by Charles E. Richardson