orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

February 9, 2014

When a Village Makes an Adult its Child

Dr. Andy Pate
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — THIS IS THE 72nd MONTH (February) of my ministry in Orange. On March 2nd, the Sunday of Mardi Gras 2014, I will have been in this ministry for six full years.

Well, that’s not so long, some might say. And, yes, they’re correct. But the measure of a life’s treasures years is not in the length of the time gone by, but in the quality of that time. It’s been a great half-dozen years in Orange for me, and I must express my thanks to the new friends I’ve made in that period and gratitude for the opportunities given me, my wife Carol and our loved ones.

I have special feelings for my home town, the smaller-than-Orange little town of Refugio in which I grew up in South Texas. It took me as a child and grew me to adulthood.

But Orange is equally special, yet for another reason. Orange did not grow me up. It diid, however, take me in, accept me, make me feel at home and try to help me grow some more.

Not every village can do this, large or small. Some I’ve been in, usually for a short while, shut you out from day one. In my early ministry when I was in those places, I couldn’t understand why. But eventually I did. They couldn’t help it. Being a closed society was their security. Being suspicious and unwelcoming of newcomers was their defense, their self-protection, if you will.

Our Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry tell us why it is that so many ministers come from outside the community where they are called to serve. In his home country, they tell us, even the Master Teacher was rejected. Thus, those same accounts have given us a time-honored truism, “A prophet is not without honor save in his home country.”

It would be audacious and dishonest for me to claim that I have been a prophet is a land not my own these past six years.  But I do claim that my ministry has been immensely rewarding in spite of a culture that’s making it very hard for most Christian churches, with many struggling to survive in a land that is becoming increasingly secular.

Seasoned Christians, strengthened by years of faithfulness and overcoming, they are what make Orange a splendid village in which to live and work. These Christians stand fast. They have acquired wisdom. They know how to forgive, mend, hug and utter those incomparably beautiful words of comfort that bring solace and relief to those who are suffering through death and great loss.

So, today I must say, Thank you, Good People of Orange Texas. You’re special!