By Rev. Brad Dancer, Rural Shade Baptist Church
I need your prayers today. My name is Pastor Brad Dancer. A real human being with real emotions and struggles. The title pastor does not make me infallible or immune to discouragement. My beautiful wife and I serve on the front lines every day to help folks in Tarkington, Texas, and Liberty County.
During normal times, non-apocalyptic virus and media craziness, we volunteer 3 to 4 time a week at our school with mentoring and service projects. We love to see the smile on a kid’s face when we serve them a napkin at school or give them a bible at beach club. During this crazy time, we have put our lives on the line to make sure everyone in our area has food and supplies. We have counseled with hundreds of families that have lost their jobs and don’t know how to get through this moment of sadness, and we are grateful for the opportunity to serve our God and our community.
I am a very proud Son of the Revolution. My 6th great-grandfather, Peter Dancer, came to America in 1749 as an indentured servant, a slave to a rich Englishman. He escaped slavery to make a better life for his family. There is a wanted poster for him that my family still has pictures of to remind us of where we come from and what we fought for. His son, John Dancer, fought in the Revolutionary War to end the tyranny of England and for freedom from oppression from the government. I actually have a 4th great-uncle named George Washington Dancer because my 5th great-grandfather, John, named one of his sons after his hero. My 5th great-grandfather who was the son of a slave was given 200 acres of land in Virginia for his service for the cause of freedom.
My discouragement in this current hour comes one day after the Liberty County Judge Jay Knight signed an executive order making liquor stores essential services and banning church services. Don’t get me wrong, I am not writing this against liquor stores. The great philosopher Tracy Byrd said it best: “If you drink, don’t drive to the watermelon crawl.” I am writing this because the church is the backbone of our community. Churches are feeding folks right now. Churches are counseling folks during this difficult time. Churches are paying electric bills and water bills for the folks suffering. Churches are sending food to the hospitals to help healthcare workers. Even the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, acknowledged that churches are covered under religion freedom and are exempt from the states executive order.
Our church met last Sunday. We practiced physical distancing and spread out in a very large room. We even had Sunday School in large rooms with groups smaller than 10. Church is not a social gathering; we are not a club or a team. We gather for the purpose of worshiping the God of All Creation, the God who gives us every breath we breathe.
Before you say that we can have church online, please understand where we live. The Internet in Tarkington is not fast enough in many areas to stream online church. We have folks in our church that do not own a computer or smart phone. We can take every precaution necessary to make it safe. We can even have church outside in our vehicles to keep from contacting or breathing on each other, but not in Liberty County. Not according to Judge Jay Knight.
So, I ask for your prayers for our community and country. May this crazy time end soon and may freedom continue to reign in these United States of America.
John Stuart Mill said in 1867: “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
The views in this article do not represent the views of the church where I serve, its members, or leadership. I, Brad Dancer, take full responsibility for these words as mine and mine alone.