I was sitting in the main auditorium of a Southern Baptist church in May 1985. It was there that it became very clear to me that I should be at Grace Baptist Church on Weddington Road. It was such clarity; it came from nowhere. I was sitting there thinking about whatever and then my mind was filled with such clarity that there was no choice for me and my family, but go to Grace Baptist and do not go anywhere else.
Shortly after God saved me I had this urge to find a local church and become a member there. This was one of many things that began to happen in my life. I had never had the urge to find a local church and become part of it. My life had changed and I was mysteriously led by someone else. It was a new day, an objectively different day. After salvation I went in search of a local church. I visited a Pentecostal church, Southern Baptist churches, Independent churches and Presbyterian churches. I had no clue about doctrine, the bible’s teaching on the local church and the value of the local church.
Sometime in the Winter or Spring of 84-85 I visited Grace Baptist. I do not remember my first visit. I do remember the experience I had in that church. The most notable experience was walking through the vestibule of that church building and observing many men of the church standing there, with their bibles, while talking about God. This was so odd to me. To hear people talking about God outside the “sanctuary” seemed wrong or something like that. It got worse. I visited some of the members of Grace Baptist in their homes and their conversation would inevitably lead toward God, Christ and what he did for them. It was sort of surreal. I didn’t know you could do that. I don’t know why I thought that way, but that is the way I thought. It was compelling. Some of the men of that church were Gerald Medlin (pastor), Rick Baker, Doug Webb and a few others. Later Jim Greenburg came to the church and it formed some of the fondest memories that I ever had in the local church.
While sitting in that Southern Baptist church that a friend of mine from Delaval invited me I knew I was supposed to be part of Grace Baptist. Therefore, the next Sunday I took my family to Grace Baptist and never left while I was in Monroe. These were my formative years as a new convert. I walked in Grace Baptist in those early days with my Living Bible, an awful paraphrase, not knowing that I had the wrong bible and it was one of the hottest issues in the Independent Baptist movement. I soon noticed that the “guys” all had Scofield Reference Bibles. I got me one, a red leather covered one and carried it proudly. I soon found my place in the vestibule, making up the gauntlet as folk came in the side door. I was one of the boys.