Faith Baptist Church

*This was a recent picture I took of our Mission Church, when Ty and I were in South Louisiana back in May. It used to be white, and had a nice church sign in the front, with other changes.

 

Faith Baptist Church

What is the church to you? What does church look like to you? When I was a teenager, age 15-18, I actually assisted my family in starting a mission church, Faith Baptist Church. It was located in south Louisiana. The following article is made up of happenings, memories and day to day activities of my life during these teenage years.

During this season of my life, I grew up in so many ways. I became part of a “team” with my mom and dad, simply because I was their child, and happened to live at home when my dad’s previous dream was about ready to become reality.

During these teenage years, I learned how to really “think out of the box”, when it came to friendships, dating, working, interacting with people. I got my first job and met my future husband during this portion of my life. I was pointed in a certain direction, because of this mission church experience. I learned many lessons, and had a “front row seat” in people watching. I was able to see what was important to people. I saw people’s good sides and their bad sides, played out right in front of me. For a teenager, that was quite an important visual, and stayed in my mind.

Living in a Pastor’s family, and starting a new church, was a time where being polite and not wanting to hurt feelings when it came to food, put me in the hospital for a week and a half! This was South Louisiana, and Cajun food was something I wasn’t used to, and the rich and hot seasonings just didn’t agree with me at all! When we first moved in, and families would have us over, I was told to be nice, polite, and try whatever was served. So, I had to learn the hard way to try things in moderation, or not at all. The doctor’s diagnosis of “Inflamed Intestines” helped drive that home! Ha!
I still have vivid memories of everyone at our mission church. Some are good, and some are bad, but all special and life changing. It was definitely fun to be able to talk with my parents as a collective unit about different situations and our church – the joys, sorrows, and just plain craziness (in my mind). I remember laughing and crying together, and that’s a great memory for me to have. I remember seeing my parents, who I’ve made no secret about having problems with through the years, play Jesus out in front of me in the way that they treated others. I saw them put others first, and spend their own personal money, and savings on other people without batting an eyelash. I saw them invite hippies and other folks into our church, in a very different way than other churches and organizations in our area did, at that time.

I learned a lot of life skills that I would later see little by little. I learned a lot about people and though some may not know this, I’m really an introvert, so this was really a school of learning for me, because this was a place where we dealt with people, visited people, in the hospital (I’d go with my dad a lot), nursing home, the sick at home, or newcomers in town, or who had visited the church for the first time. Back then, you could request a Newcomers list from the city,
and Mom, Dad and others in our church, were very good about jumping on that right away.
I also learned office skills that would change my working life in the future, such as typing up a weekly church bulletin, and assisting my father with that. I learned how to use a mimeograph machine, and each week we’d run the bulletins and other articles off using that machine. We also had a newsletter called, “The Solid Rock”, that we would send out once a month, and we sent that off to be printed, and my dad was really proud of that newsletter. It was sent out to church members, visitors, newcomers, family, friends, and to our “home church” that was sponsoring us. “The Solid Rock” was comprised of articles that my dad would write, and the name pretty much summed it up. It was straight out of the Bible, and he would ask other pastors, professors and missionaries to write articles too.

I had taken piano lessons for many years and had started playing once in a while for youth group or church growing up, but now I was going into the role of church pianist at our mission church, and dad was the song leader. Every Saturday morning became our time of practice. He had to be careful not to pick songs with too many sharps or flats. Ha! We would really crack up over that. He told me that because of our lack of experience, it made for a really hilarious practice time for us! Each week was stressful, frustrating, but it was also engaging, challenging and fun.

Have you ever been put in a situation, because of family, or something you were not able to make the choice one way or another to get involved with? If you look back on that experience, most of the time you will see that though it might have been uncomfortable, or even strange at times, hard to deal with, and even made you question God, it molded you into the person that you are. It even strengthened you and forced you to walk through things that, given a choice on your own, you might not have done. Sometimes we view things as “normal”, and so anything outside of the norm is hard for us to go through.
During this time of helping with and attending our mission church, there were times when I interacted with friends, neighbors, and others who would ask me where I attended church, and sometimes it was hard, because there were a lot of people who didn’t understand what a mission church was. We had property that our church was paying for that we were going to build a church on in the near future, but we were meeting in a big house that we were renting. We fixed it up beautifully, and it served our purpose for that season, but it was different, very different. I had seen new small churches at various places in my life, but I knew that a lot of people had not, and so to them, in my mind, they might think that I was strange, weird or just plain different.
Being different never bothered me, and in fact one of the first posters I remember getting as a very early teenager and putting up in my room said, “I act different because I am different”, so already God was preparing me to be different and feel different in this world.
It was also a time when I found out who my true friends were. One of my best friends was the First Baptist Church preacher’s daughter in our city. Even though we really had totally different situations, we were very close. It always interested her to see what was involved in starting a new church and found it fascinating. She had been in Eunice for several years, so she was able to show me the ropes. God definitely put us together as friends, because there were times when we were able to cry together, laugh together and understand each other in ways that other people might not get or know what was happening. We were also able to go out on double dates together, and she generally was a very good person to talk with about guys that she already knew had our standards and morals. So we definitely jived, and we were in a lot of the same classes at school too. She definitely helped my Junior and Senior years of high school to be full of joy and laughter.

My love of music also played a part in my school years. I was always in choir, and that didn’t change in my high school years. I loved it so much. In fact, I was chosen to be in a small group (four boys and four girls) to sing our class song, “We May Never Pass This Way Again”, by Seals and Crofts. *(The lyrics of this song are printed at the end of this story.) Music was important at church too. Besides being the church pianist, I sang many solos, duets with my mom or dad, and as a trio with them.

I’ve always enjoyed doing things for people, but I think this ministry really changed my life in that regard. I’ve always loved crafts, and if you’ve been around me more than a few minutes, you know that about me, but I know that my love of crafts went into high gear during this season of my life.
I taught 3-5 year olds in Sunday School, and made crafts for them to go along with the lesson. Some of the crafts would be made for them ahead of time, that they could color, and some of the crafts were halfway made, and we would complete the process in class. I remember my parents coming into my room and seeing me sprawled out on the bed with papers, scissors and markers everywhere, scratching their heads, laughing and chuckling and then shutting the door, because I think they even wondered how in the world a 16/17 year old could enjoy doing this. But God was at work in my life and my heart.
I also loved baking cookies (and still do), and would bake them and take them to neighbors just out of the blue to brighten their day, and I learned to recognize people on their birthdays, and to cheer them up too, and had so much fun doing it! I really think this time in my life fed this deep desire of encouraging others, giving to them and serving them.

One memory that has been etched in my mind, was when my dad had been out visiting one day, and met an elderly widow woman who touched his heart. He noticed that she probably had 70 to 80 glasses, pots, pans, bowls, and plastic containers all over her house catching water that would drip through her roof whenever it rained. He noticed that she didn’t have much, but was so sweet and happy. She loved God, and was so positive, when she had every reason to be sad. She didn’t have any family living in the area, so he talked to the church about possibly helping her by putting a new roof on her house. I will never forget that experience as long as I live. At 17 years of age, I was up on top of a roof doing everything that you do when you put a new roof on someone’s house. My mom took a before and after picture, and I wish I still had that photo, because I didn’t even look like the same person at the end of the day. But we had enough people, and at the end of the day, she had a new roof, and could put her bowls, pots and pans back in the cabinet. She was so overwhelmed that a little mission church, who didn’t have much ourselves, would give so much from their hearts and bodies. She called it “Muscular Christianity”, and as the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words” a lot of times. That elderly woman had a spring in her step for quite a while after that. And it taught me a lot about serving, and going out of your comfort zone, trying something new that maybe you didn’t even think you could do, in order to bring happiness to someone else.

It was also during this time of life, that I purchased my first car and paid off a two-year note in one year. It was a real learning experience and taught me a lot about saving and reaching a goal that would help me in my life. When Ty and I got married, because of that, we did not have a car payment for quite awhile.

My life as a teenager in south Louisiana was much different than my earlier teenage years had been in Colorado, where we had lived before moving to Louisiana. In Colorado, we had malls, bowling alleys, skating rinks,(ice and roller),ski resorts, mountain activities, movie theaters, restaurants, and many other places to go to have clean fun, as a young person. But in south Louisiana, they didn’t have much in clean cut fun at that time. They might have had a few of those things, but you’d have to drive many miles to find them. It was hard when you would go out on a date, or out with friends, because there really wasn’t much to do there. Many times, we’d “stay in”, and make dinner together, play games, watch a movie, or take a walk. Most of the teenagers, at that time, (Ty included), drank alcohol from very early ages. The bars in our area would allow teenagers to come in and drink, and that was pretty much the choice that was available to me. I had to really think “outside of the box” when it came to dating activities. Ha!
One of the things that our mission church did for me, as a teenager, was to show me that there were so many things we could do for fun, even if we had to use our imaginations a little more than we might have wanted. *I’ll never forget trying a frito pie for the first time, at a “drive in restaurant”, where they brought the small bag of fritos out to you, the bag had been cut open, and the chili and cheese were added. Now, that was fun!!! I also began having regular visits with the sweet older lady, whose roof we fixed, and looked forward to it. She had the best stories, and awesome hugs. God was preparing me to really take in the simple things in life and find meaning and pleasure in them. He was also showing me how important it was to do things for others, and get the focus off of myself once in a while.

**Our 1974 Class Song…

“We May Never Pass This Away Again”, by Seals and Crofts…
Life, so they say, is but a game and we let it slip away.
Love, like the Autumn sun, should be dyin’ but it’s only just begun.
Like the twilight in the road up ahead, we don’t see just where we’re goin’.
And all the secrets in the Universe, whisper in our ears;
And all the years will come and go, take us up, always up.
We may never pass this way again. We may never pass this way again.
We may never pass this way again.

Dreams, so they say, are for the fools and they let ’em drift away.
Peace, like the silent dove, should be flyin’ but it’s only just begun.
Like Columbus in the olden days, we must gather all our courage.
Sail our ships out on the open sea. Cast away our fears;
And all the years will come and go, and take us up, always up.

We may never pass this way again. We may never pass this way again.
We may never pass this way again.

So, I wanna laugh while the laughin’ is easy. I wanna cry if it makes it worthwhile.
We may never pass this way again, that’s why I want it with you.
‘Cause, you make me feel like I’m more than a friend. Like I’m the journey and you’re the journey’s end.

We may never pass this way again, that’s why I want it with you.
We may never pass this way again. We may never pass this way again.
We may never pass this way again. We may never pass this way again.

THE CHURCH AND TOWN THAT CHANGED MY LIFE FOREVER…

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***This is a long post, so I want to apologize now, but I really need to share, and over the next few days, there may be other long posts. Please feel free to just skip over this and move on if you like, but it is so therapeutic for me to work through. Thank you for understanding.***

When we left our family yesterday, after the funeral, we wanted to look around Eunice, and locate some important landmarks, and maybe snap some pictures. Well, we found every single one of them…and then, we, or I really should say, I, saw it first…Faith Baptist Church. It USED to be Faith Baptist Church…a small Mission Church in Eunice… started in August 1972. I wasn’t prepared for my reaction…
My eyes welled up with tears, AND THEN…I saw *the front porch… *a story I will save for another post), and the flood gates started and continued for quite some time.

*Long story short…My dad was “called into the ministry” in his 20’s, but said that he ignored it, and went on entering the Navy, then the Air Force, becoming a Flight Instructor for United Airlines, and he just didn’t feel things were right. After talking it over with my mom and me, he enrolled in Bible College, my mom earned her Nursing Degree, and they felt God calling them to Mexico, to a specific people group.

Because my dad was retired from the Air Force and United Airlines, and had that retirement income, he felt called to smaller works, churches that might be struggling, couldn’t pay their pastor much, etc.

Because of our visas being delayed and not coming through in time to Mexico, we visited my sister and brother-in-law, who had just moved to Lafayette, Louisiana, where my brother-in-law got his first job as a helicopter mechanic, at PHI, Petroleum Helicopters Inc., after graduating from school.

August was coming to a close and school was getting ready to start and still no visas. So Dad began talking to the church that had sent us out and found out that there were a couple of small towns in Louisiana that fit the ministry of what Mom and Dad felt called to do. And, there were a group of people, singles, families, etc., who needed a pastor, and after meeting with them, etc., we moved to Eunice, just in time for my junior year of High School.

The church purchased this “HOUSE” pictured, above, the first light blue house photo – (it was white back then). It was fixed up so nice inside, with a big auditorium, and lots of rooms for classes, etc. I taught toddlers through age 5 in Sunday School, played the piano, sang, visited folks with mom and dad, helped dad in the church office, helped type the bulletin, you name it!!

One Sunday, a man came to church, with some friends who invited him, who, even though I didn’t know it at the time, would change my life forever. That man was Ty Coleman. Long hair, bell bottom blue jeans, red, white and blue shoes. He was very friendly, fun to talk with, sense of humor, and soaked up church like a sponge. Came to everything. Never missed a service or class. Would come over to my Dad’s office (in our home), a lot, with questions and loved to listen to stories in the Bible. I would see him a lot, when I’d come home from school, or he would stop by after work, etc.

He became a Christian after studying, reading God’s Word, asking questions, and after hearing a sermon one Sunday, realized that even though he had been raised “in church”, he really didn’t know Christ, and wanted a personal relationship with Him. He came forward after listening that Sunday, and told Dad what had happened.

We soon became good friends, would eat meals together, watch tv together, sit at our piano and sing together, ride bikes, walk, swim, and before you knew it, we fell in love.

On June 6, 1975, we were married in a beautiful garden (in my sister and brother in law’s backyard – pictured above in several different images.  We also just took these pictures yesterday in Eunice. The yard looked different back in 1975, with more flowering plants and flowers, but it is still very stunning.

And, Ty and Debbie’s adventure began…