Which comes first: preaching, teaching, or reaching?

By Anthony Banks

I went to the service station on the outskirts of town one day, and I was telling a gentleman about being a new pastor in Turrell. He said, “They need it, all those gang bangers, and drug dealers down there.”  And I wanted to know, What does he want to do to help?

Turrell is an impoverished community. You have to travel to find jobs because there are no jobs here. They have a couple of businesses, a country store, a funeral home, and one little place that sells sandwiches, but basically that’s about it. The majority of people are on a fixed income.

Just from observing, there’s a lack of education, and schools have closed down and combined with others. The drop-out rate is high because of the issues people face. A lot of people battle depression and behavioral problems. There is a real need for counseling. I mean, these things happen because of what people are facing.

Churches should and could ban together to be a stronger force. My mission is to preach the word of God and pray for some healing and restoration in the town. This is why we do what we do at Second Baptist. Basically we are looking at it from both sides. It’s about restoring what should be versus what people are settling for. 

anthony-outside-church-copy
Anthony standing outside Second Baptist

But I used to hear this: “Each one teach one.” However, I am a firm believer in: “You can’t teach a person you can’t reach.”

Paul said, “I became weak to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Cor. 19:22). If Paul didn’t become weak then he couldn’t understand them, and they perceived that he couldn’t understand them. If you’re trying to teach someone but you’re not even trying to reach them, how can they pay attention? You don’t understand their problems.

I have been through what they are going through: through the gang banging, drugs, and living the street life. I’ve had to say, “I understand. I used to feel I had to do the same thing.” I’ve explained, “This is a choice you can make, but you can make a different choice.”

Once you can reach them, you can teach them that’s not the way…

I can talk about how I remember falling into the same trap. When these guys would ride around in nice, fancy cars and had big speakers and shining rims. I remember wanting those things and thought I had to do the same thing to get it, but the whole time God was convicting me, The devil is tricking you—just like he did in the garden.

So I made a decision to live differently. Yeah, when I got hired I wasn’t making the same money as when I dealt with drugs, but Jesus owns everything.

I can say, “He’s not slacking in His promises. If He takes care of the birds of the air, then you have to trust the plans He has for you—this is what you need to hang your hope on. The Bible tells us everything else will pass away, and there will be a new heaven and new earth. Tomorrow is not promised, but if the Lord feeds the birds of the air, how much more will He will take care of you?”

{ I think of what they are doing, and what I have done, so I can relate to them. I want to help them understand there is a better way. }

I think of what they are doing, and what I have done, so I can relate to them. I want to help them understand there is a better way. Once I reach them I can teach them about this Jesus who took my feet out of the miry clay and placed them upon a rock to stay.

But I’m not just targeting people on the streets. There are other people who do not have anything to do with drugs or alcohol, but they have other issues that are taking effect in their life. There are people who aren’t going to church because they’ve been hurt by church folk. I have to minister to that, too, through the love of God.

When I see folks, I let the Spirit lead me. As a man of God—pastor or not—whenever I run into anyone in Turrell or anyplace else, I don’t waste an opportunity. I may not know who they are or if they’re on the streets, but I’ve got to bring God into the equation. Every conversation is a situation to share God in revelation. 

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