Kentucky has cultivated a faith-based population that puts God’s word before anything else. Generations of families teaching and handing down the non-negotiable word of God. The engrained folkways and morays of the Bible Belt has made way for churches that resemble professional sporting arenas.
As I was traveling across the great state of Kentucky, I stopped into a Chic-Fil-A with a business associate and asked why the store was so busy. The response was, “It’s Wednesday and everyone is on their way church.” I thought, Wow!-as this is definitely indigenous to the Bible Belt and there is no better example than Kentucky.
In the Bible they say “iron sharpens iron,” which is to say, a Christian will grow stronger in faith if he or she surrounds themselves with fellow believers. I couldn’t agree more, as my personal experience in New Orleans provided an opportunity to see first-hand the power in numbers. In other words, it created accountability.
Moving back to my beloved state of New Jersey, I experienced the very antithesis of Kentucky and Louisiana. Just when I thought that moving back would be hectic enough (luckily I had the services of local movers of a similar calibre to these movers palmyra nj to help me out), I was brought face to face with this situation. Growing up in New Jersey, I was brought up in a church; however, like most Catholics, the Bible was very rarely, if ever, read outside of the weekly mass proceedings. I am by no means demeaning or ridiculing the Catholic faith, only pointing out the way things were in my own background.
Once back in New Jersey, I felt the calling to introduce Jesus to those who had yet to establish a personal relationship. I would explain that no one can live vicariously through another person’s relationship and then explain the strength brought forth by the Holy Spirit. The inherent benefits of being a Christian are available to everyone; however, grace is only offered to those who accept Jesus. A great thing about being in a part of the world that represents less than 1/100% of born-again Christians is the opportunity to become a Jesus catalyst. I always remind my Christian brothers residing in the Bible Belt area that we are not called to save the saved! It’s so critical that Christians embrace, and moreover seek, uncomfortable circumstances to spread the Gospel. There is no greater challenge than for a Christian to be placed in harm’s way that, in many ways, will push even the most devout to the brink of their limits.
Though I miss attending church in St Tammany, Louisiana with a coffee bar rivaling the local Starbucks, I love being in New Jersey engaging so many that don’t know Christ! The sheer populous of the Northeast is mind boggling! The state of New Jersey has 1200 people per square mile! The fast pace, cost of living, ethnic and cultural diversity, and so much more, leaves very little time for God, let alone Wednesday service. The key is to shift the paradigms of traditional and historic thinking to a thought process that fosters a sustainable faith. Church should not be seen as a punch clock weekly albatross. God’s house provides an opportunity to learn in the same way we realized high school and/or college. It is a means to an end! The objective is to learn the Word so that we can spread the Gospel the rest of the week. Christianity is a lifestyle and a tireless pursuit of the unconditional love Jesus wants for all of us!
To reiterate, I enjoyed greatly living in the Bible Belt with numerous believers; however, God has called me to be take a fraction to a whole number!
Peter Goldsberry has been and continues to be a spiritual journey. Raised Roman Catholic in New Jersey, Peter was nicknamed “Padre” and was thought destined for the priesthood due to his enthusiasm and eagerness to be involved in all matters of faith. Blessed to be a better than average football player, he also earned high academic and national honors. Peter’s life changed when his father was diagnosed with cancer. He’s unable to forget the first night back at college after burying his father. He couldn’t sleep and suddenly was lead to the college book store to purchase the last paperback Bible on the shelf. Following his graduation from college, Peter married his high school sweetheart Amy and started working with a blue chip company in Campbell Soup. Things were going great for the family but Peter felt that his faith had taken a back seat. Amy and he searched for a church and found a great Presbyterian one in Toms River that fueled their faith. Later, Peter accepted a job to serve as an executive with the NBA for the Hornets in New Orleans. While with the Hornets, he had the opportunity to work with Owner George Shinn building a Faith and Family Night where 10,000 Psalm books were handed out. Currently, Peter has returned to his roots in New Jersey and works there. Peter, Amy, and their two children are happy to be back in familiar surroundings. Follow him on Twitter at @Pgold44.