Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Message From My Daddy

I'm preparing to leave today to visit the country of Tchad. It seems I need to do a million thngs but right now I want to stop and leave just a short note here. We have just come through the International Council meeting of three days, followed immediately by two days with my Area Field Director's Council. One day early this week I reached home about 6:00pm thoroughly wrung out. You know? Tired. Exhausted. Spent emotionally and physically. I had made some small offerings in these meetings with the hopes of it being a blessing but it did not seem well-received. "This is too ambiguous." "This needs to be refined." "Let's send this back to the World Missions Board for some work." And "Do we really need to be meeting here and talking about such items as this?" So as you can imagine, my brow was furrowed and my spirit was low. I needed a "picker upper". Ahhh, I thought. I need a coke. But alas, when I opened the fridge door there was no sign of soda water.

So Off to the grocery store I went. Just inside the entrance to the store a young lady with two small chidren approached me..."Is your name Brannen?" she asked. "Yes, it is!" "Well," she responded, "I want to tell you something your Daddy used to say to me. When I was a young girl I was very timid and always walked with my head down. I remember going into the church hall where my Dad was pastor and your Dad was on the staff. As I walked into the building with my head down, your Dad saw me coming from the other end of the hall. He arose from his chair and met me in the middle of the hallway. He would bow his head and walk towards me till our heads almost touched and when I stopped he would say, "Melissa, hold up your head! You have nothing to hang your head about!!!" (This was the daughter of John and Gloria Colbaugh who I would not have known at all if she had not told me.)

When I got back home I told Frances, "I've just had a message from my Daddy and from my Heavenly Father!

Friday, September 14, 2007

"Cushy" Jobs I've Had

I'm still laughing this morning about a statement someone once made to me about me having a "cushy" job. Of course the person who made the statement to me recently, understood full well the incongruence of the statement he had made for he too is a preacher.

Really, It happens to preachers all the time. I heard a man say once, "I wish I was a preacher - then I'd only have to work 3 hours a week. I'd have people bringing me food from their gardens, either taking me home with them on Sunday - or taking me out to a restaurant on Sunday - get to sleep in on Monday mornings - and basically have nothing else to do until Wednesday night."
So - what are some of the things we do in this "cushy" job? Well, here is a composite situation Not too long ago, I was invited to go to a church in Virginia to be their missions speaker. My directions were that I was to preach in two churches in the area. So, after a phone call to the pastor (whom I had never met before) I was instructed to stop at this certain motel to spend the night, then come on to the church the next morning as he was busy with other things. The motel turned out to be one of those quaint older places built in the 1940's which had two rows of four rooms each, laid out in a "V" formation with the office separate and in front of the V. Outside it is covered with faded and peeling battleship grey paint. I notice that the door lock has been pried open with a wrecking bar and now the lock barely hangs on the door jamb inside. Thank God I brought along my trusty rubber door stop which I use to slide under the door from inside, thus giving me a feeling of security. The carpet on the floor is "shag" in a burnt orange/dirt brown color. There is a green mold ring in the commode. The place smells sour. But there is a TV! So I turn it on and look around for the remote, only to find that there is none. It really is not needed since the TV only has three channels that work. PBC, ABC, and CBS. The shower was good! Someone had put one of those great big showerheads on and there was good water pressure.
Next morning I arrived early at the church and went to the parsonage next door as I had been instructed to do on the phone the night before. The pastor welcomed me in and motioned that I should take a seat. He proceeded to tell me that they did not need any "faith promise cards" which I always used in order to give the people a way to declare how much they wanted to give over the coming year towards my project. He also let me know that his people did not want a "movie"! "They want you to preach the Word a' God!" Then the Pastor asked where I was going to be that night. When I told him, he responded with "No. You are not. That man don't want you to come to his church - besides there are only a few of them." This man was the district pastor so I did not argue. As you may imagine, I left the parsonage and went to the pulpit with a heavy heart. (What a cushy job!) But it wasn't all bad. I opened my Bible to Matthew 9:36, 37 and preached my heart out. Afterwards the pastor asked publicly if I might have some pledge cards and would I let his church have them so they could get involved in this project in Africa.
That night I went to another church where the Pastor had told me that his church wanted the King James Version to be used. No problem. Then he also asked on the phone, "Brother - do you wear ear rings?" "No!" I said. "Well, do you wear a wedding band?" "Yes, I do" was my response. Then he said, "Well, my people will appreciate it if you will take it off and put it in your pocket." So, rather than offend anyone, I took my wedding band off for that service. (Romans 14)
Yep, I've got it made. Real "cushy" job here.

Now - let me conclude by saying that this is not the way I get treated ALL of the time. In fact it is an honor to me that so many pastors open their pulpits up to me and allow me to take my liberty in presenting the case for world missions. I've been treated like royalty; stayed in some of the finest hotels money can buy; and walked into rooms which had a basketfull of fruit and snacks which had notes of encouragement mounted on top, thanking me for doing what I do. I have had to "learn to abound" more than I have had to learn to be abased. I'm deeply grateful to God for allowing me this privilege.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

From The Cove/Billy Graham Center

Our General Overseer has encouraged all the members of the Executive Committee to "adopt" a small group of other leaders to get together with on a regular basis for times of prayer, study, and devotion. Each of the five men has a "Covenant Ministry Team". Frances and I are a part of the Tim Hill Covenant Ministry team. Brother Hill is the Second Assistant General Overseer and also a singer and song writer. He has invited his team to come to the Billy Graham Training Center located in "The Cove" near Asheville, NC.

So...Frances and I decided to leave home Sunday morning, go by the nursing home where her Mom is bedfast to visit and pray with her, then leave for the Asheville area - thus giving us an extra day on the road to rest before our meeting began. We found Mamaw Hildreth in better shape than expected. The speech therapist had found a set of headphones with a pocket amplifier that attaches to the shirt pocket and has made it possible for us to communicate with Mamaw. This is the first time I think she has really understood what I was trying to say to her for the past six months. It's amazing that she responded to every question and comment with sensible answers. It's like she was her old self. Of course this did not change her weakened physical condition, nor her paralyzed limb - but it is so good to be able to talk and know that she understands what is being said and is able to respond to conversation. That was sooooo good for Frances.

After feeding Mamaw her lunch and dinner we traveled on towards Asheville. On a whim, I asked Frances if she would like to stay in Maggie Valley, NC and she agreed. So we stopped about an hour before dark. We sat out in two rocking chairs in front of the entrance for about 10 to 20 minutes before retiring to the room. Next morning we "lolligagged" around and didn't check out until about 20 minutes before 11:00a, which was check-out time. This was quite a change of pace for me. When we got on the road we drove to the Moose Cafe, near the Farmer's Market on the West side of town, had a great lunch, then came on here and checked in by 1:30p.

We started off the meeting with a great meal at 5:30p, then church. Church consisted of an old timey Gospel Singing. First Bob and Jeanne Johnson, who have appeared on the Gaither Videos, and then the Voices of Lee directed by Danny Murray. Tim Hill then spoke to us before we had communion. It was a great service.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

New Beginnings on Labor Day

Saturday morning I was up early, had my light breakfast, and drove off to Franklin, Indiana to do a missions service for Bishop Robert and wife Brandi Sluder. They put me up in Lee's Inn of Greenwood. Pastor Sluder and Pastor Samuel Mwangi met me that evening at 6:30 in Greenwood and took me out to dinner. It turns out Pastor Mwangi is from Kenya and wanted to meet me because he learned I had lived in and ministered in Kenya for 9 years and now supervise our churches in 32 other countries of Africa.

The Church in Franklin is a mission church -- or the beginning of a new church whose leader feels strongly that for his church to grow he should involve his people in foreign missions. It was amazing to walk into this new mission and find them fellowshipping with a minster from Kenya, Samuel Mwangi and his wife Margaret. Also, it was fun for me to stand and greet them from the podium with "Hamjambo watoto wa Mungu!" or in English, "Goodmorning Children of God!" After the service they had a fellowship meal and there was plenty of Kenyan food as well as American food. What a great time we had together. I do not know if these groups will merge into one church because we have two men who are definitely called of God and have a burden for the lost in all cultures - so naturally both would have the tendency to want to be "in charge." However, if they could see it, there is so much more they could do together. Pastor Sluder wants a merger to take place. I'm not sure about Pastor Mwangi. Playing "second fiddle" is somehow not as attractive as being the leader of the band.

Pastor Sluder is calling his new church the "Place of Grace" Church of God. I believe it will become a great church whether the other people join together with him or not. It's obvious that God is at work in this effort and I perceived an above average commitment and passion here. What greater labor than winning souls to Christ and the Kingdom of God?

When the service was over I had a phone call from Frances and my first cousin Terry J. Jones and his new bride of about two years were here in Cleveland to visit with me. Therefore, I drove straight home after lunch, arriving about 8:30p Sunday night. They had arrived on Saturday evening from Indianapolis - so we probably passed each other somewhere on I-65. By the time I got home I found that Frances had invited Terry (I call him Junius; he calls me Alton) and Tricia (Junius' wife) to stay with us. So yesterday, we took them to the cabin. A great time was had by all! I Wish you could have been with us.

About Me

My photo
Cleveland, TN, United States
I am Fred Alton Brannen, the son of Louis A. Brannen (deceased) and Bonnie Jones Brannen, Louis was an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God. Bonnie is an Ordained Licensed Minister and at 89 years of age is still actively engaged in speaking and singing engagements. I am married to the former Frances Hildreth. We celebrated 53 years of marriage this past June and we are the parents of 3, grand-parents of 10, and great-grandparents of 10. I pastored in Tennessee for 24 years and served the Church in some capacity in missions for over 23 years. I retired from full-time ministry in August of 2008 but remain active, speaking and singing and teaching whenever opportunity affords itself. In January of 2010 I received a letter of commendation for having been credentialed as a minister in the Church of God for 50 years! My family is very important to me. Our get togethers are always noisy affairs and most times will include family sing-alongs. The children love their Mom's cooking so we have the privilege of seeing them regularly! WE LOVE having them over.

TheCabin on Day One

TheCabin on Day One
Fred Alton