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  • Writer's pictureAdam Stanford

Letter from the Preacher's Kid

Updated: Apr 12, 2022

The other day, someone asked me if I was related to that preacher, Greg Stanford. To which I replied, “Depends why you’re asking.” We are often embarrassed of our parents, and when we are old enough, we are ready to run away as fast as we can. But we cannot forget who we are. I am Adam Stanford, the only child of Greg Stanford, the middle son of Earl Stanford. Our family has lived in West Tennessee all our lives. I was born in Jackson-Madison County General Hospital and have never lived more than an hour away. I am only five minutes from the church I was born, fifteen minutes from the congregation I spent most of my school days, and my dad pastors again at the church in which I was saved as a young child. I have served in various capacities at four churches in the region. Between his and my ministry, I have gotten to know countless congregations around the West Tennessee area, and 23 of my 29 years of life have been within the Beech River Baptist Association.


To my West Tennessee church family: one cannot deny the love you have for God, your church, your community, and my family. You pray before you even know there is a need. I have been sitting in doctor’s office, no one knowing I am sick, and a receive a text saying, “Praying for you.” Your cooking is next to none. When someone is sick or grieving, their kitchen is overflowing for months. When a disaster arrives, you are the first on site no matter where it is in the world.



WE NEED YOUR HELP

This past year has been a crisis like no other. In a press conference yesterday, one of the JMCGH administrators said to the surrounding community “We’re thankful for your prayers and food, but we need your help.”


Our hospitals are overloaded. The staff is exhausted and sick. Patients can’t find beds. And when this adds up, no one is getting good care. My family saw these dangers last year when my dad was hospitalized with an infection in his leg. Today, the hospital systems are worse than then!


And what are we doing? Many are going business as usual, multiple services a week, full choirs, shoulder to shoulder seating, no masks, meals, events, and revivals. Not only are we not helping, we are causing a lot of the pain and suffering.


“But (insert business/event here) are doing it…..”

Yes, but we set a dangerous precedent when we compare ourselves to the world. Besides, they are not doing it in the name of the LORD. WE ARE! We as churches should be holding ourselves to the highest standards in the community. We serve as a witness to the world, and many of them don’t like what they see, and I don’t blame them.

“But we gotta have faith.”

I tell you what faith is. I have watched my dad over the last year and a half. The same man who, when I was sick as a kid and didn’t want to go to church would say “Throw up and prove it.” When I would he would say “Don’t you feel better now, let’s go.” (I think he stole that from a comedian). When we would have snow and needed to cancel, he would ask, “Is Walmart open? If they are, we can have church too.”


Not once, but THREE times over the past year, the week before a new wave hits, his church has decided to go virtual. Not knowing if the members would stay connected, not knowing if there would be enough money to pay the bills, they were willing to risk it all and try to keep each other and their community safe.


I have watched him have sleepless nights on whether he has made the right decision or not, but from the very beginning, he has been reassured that his main purpose is to protect the flock and feed the flock. After over, forty years of pastoring, he has completely changed his format of studying, preparing, and preaching, learned new tech skills, and keeps up Facebook sermons and Bible studies, radio slots, and online bulletins just to do so.


Our communities are hurting, and we need your help. We need you to make sacrifices to your “normal” way of life and worship to help releave the strain on our community.



What Can You Do?

Pastors

I know you are tired. This has been a stressful year. You have whiplash of changing at every unknown, and PTSD of a plethora of confrontations. Our leaders in state and national conventions have given little help, either by nature of Baptist structure, or fear of conflict. Therefore, all responsibility has fallen on you. You already know what your church needs and has resources for in order to help. I pray you have the strength to keep on during these upcoming days.


Deacons and Staff

Be the Aaron to your Moses. Lift him up and encourage him to do the right thing, even when the loud voices get deafening. If it wasn’t for my dad’s deacons this past year, I don’t know if he would be alive. They have stood by him, pushing him forward and encouraged him to take the leap of faith, even when he didn’t trust himself. We need more like them.


Church Members

Find ways to encourage your pastor. Likely, one of his biggest concerns is that he doesn't want to sow discord among the church. He will go above and beyond, even putting his and his family’s life at risk for you and the church. So often the loud voices overpower, and everyone else just stays silent.


Also, the blessing (and sometimes curse) of Baptist churches is that we are often democratic in governance. If you do not have an opportunity to officially vote, you can vote by wearing your mask, keeping distance, participate in online or drive-up services and meetings.


Remember, it is not selfish or sinful to want to worship in a safe environment. If we have the resources available, we need to use them.


Parents & Grandparents

You may ask, “but what about the kids?” Teaching the kids is important, but scripture never allows one to fully delegate a child’s spiritual growth to the one or two hours of church activities. In fact, Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “You shall teach [the commandments] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” It is your responsibility to ensure that they are taught in all aspects of life. My family has worshipped and studied scripture together more over this past year than we have in decades combined.


Children & Grandchildren

Love thy boomer. They love you. They need you. You need them even more. Teach them new technology and how to safely stay connected. I know, this is hard. Even after 18 months of online streaming, this week, my dad and I got in a fight while setting up his recording. Who knows you may make or capture a memory that will be with you for the rest of your life.


To those of you who are willing to risk your life, your faith is admirable. We all desire to have the faith of David, to stand before the giant with just a sling and a stone. But first, he had to learn to love the sheep.


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