Front Porch Stories: Looking for Reverend Stewart
By Kathy Bohannon, Special to The Paper
My husband John and I celebrated 44 years of marriage this past Thanksgiving, and we remembered something awesome that happened when we were just two years into our lives together.
We were living in our first home in Douglasville and had been talking about finding a church. He was raised Methodist, I was raised Baptist. “I’d love to find a preacher like Larry Stewart,” I told him. He was very familiar with Reverend Stewart, but only because I’d mentioned him and his preaching style many times.
Reverend Stewart was at the pulpit when I received Christ. He was the first pastor I really listened to, as he was able to speak right into my young heart. He was a rather large man with a booming voice. His manner of preaching included his face turning red as he loudly shared his passion for the word of God. Along with his emphatic messages, there was the occasional slamming of a fist on the pulpit. This assured that my brother Dave and I never fell asleep in church.
I found a love of Baptist hymns as a youth. I learned all the words to “Just as I Am” from the choir that sat facing the congregation. Every Sunday, mom was singing along in that choir loft with her tall hair and pointy glasses, one eye on her music and the other on my brother and me as we sat on the front pew.
It would be in that second year of marriage that we found ourselves on a quest for a church home. We used the latest and greatest technology; a Yellow Pages telephone book and the newspaper. It was decided we would look for a Baptist church. I was overjoyed that John agreed.
One Sunday morning we decided to just get in the car and drive until we saw a Baptist church that appealed to us. We were young and our criteria for finding a church home was quite different than it would be today, but the fact that we were searching at all was a good thing. We weren’t looking for red brick and white columns; just a simple, quiet country church.
I silently prayed for God to lead us as my husband navigated the backroads. We turned this way and that, passing one church after another. I also prayed that God would help us to find a preacher like Larry Stewart.
Several miles into the country, we saw a little white church on the left side of the road. I recall that it was situated down a hill, with a small sign by the highway. We parked the car and had just moments to go in and find a seat.
Music from the choir rang out as we approached the big wooden door. We slowly opened it, hoping not to disrupt, and we found a seat on a pew near the back of the church. After I put my purse and Bible by my side, I looked up and was shocked to see my childhood pastor, Larry Stewart himself, approach the pulpit.
I don’t remember what the sermon was about that day, but I do know that we were led to that church at that time, for reasons only God knew. It was one of many prayers answered throughout the years. I’m always eager to know what God is going to do next. Whatever it is, I know it will be awesome.
Kathy Bohannon is a Christian humorist and inspirational speaker. She and her husband John live in west Newnan. She can be reached at [email protected].