I am standing in the rain at a very historic site located deep within the Ozark Mountains just outside the village of Hilda, Missouri. The historic value of this place applies to Jayne and me for a number of very special reasons. It was were our journey began. We just wanted to share this with you.
1. This is the first church I had the privilege to pastor going back to 1971. It was Ozark Chapel, Church of the Nazarene.
2. Jayne and I were married here 39 years ago officiated by Rev James C. Hester, our DS at the time. A number of our invited guests almost turned back thinking that the church surely could not be this deep into the mountains—fortunately, they kept going and all made it on time. Some of the Ozark mountain children attended our wedding barefoot, they didn't have much.
3. Our daughter, Kristy, was born while we were here and she was dedicated by Dr. Remiss Rehfeldt one Sunday morning at this location with about 50 people there to bless us and our new baby girl. She spent many Sundays sleeping in the church nursery between services as it was too far to drive back to Springfield.
4. It was here that we came to know some very amazing mountain folks that blessed us in many ways and taught us many things and were graceful and kind in all things. We have memories of vacation Bible school, Sunday school classes, eating in the homes of folks from backgrounds far different from ours. Most of these special people have gone on now. When we go back to this site, we visit the Brown cemetery a mile down the road where many of them are buried and as we visit their grave site we fondly remember the over 5 years we journeyed together.
As you can see, the Chapel is now in ruins. Be assured this is not how we left it. The congregation picked up and moved into Forsyth, Missouri, many years ago. It now serves that community under the name of Trinity Church of the Nazarene. Neglect and abuse have brought it to this place of disarray but it still remains an historic place for Jayne and me as we remember the people we loved and the amazing things God did there. Sometimes it is just good to stop and look back.