EPISODE #62 – BOOTCAMP THANKSGIVING SPECIAL
It’s Thanksgiving week! We hope you have a great time as you gather with others this week. Jimbo and Bob talk about their plans and then get down to the business of reflecting on people they are thankful for who have been a part of their Replants.
Stay tuned till the end for a moving story about one of Jimbo’s church members who came to faith, contributed to the church becoming “openly broken” and left a legacy of faith after she passed. ( listener warning: get out the kleenex.)
We are thankful for you Bootcamp Listeners! Don’t forget to enter the Replant Bootcamp Ball Cap giveaway!
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For details, check out the show notes below by Descript.
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Back at it again. Thanksgiving. Are you ready, Bob? To eat some good old food?
Bob Bickford: [00:00:07] Man I’m ready, but it’s going to be an interesting year this year.
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:10] Yeah. Are you going to get to have gravy? That’s my question.
Bob Bickford: [00:00:14] Yes, but let me, let me preface it and just give you the backstory, this, the brief backstory, if I may. So we typically will gather in the middle of Missouri on a farm. With about 70 of Barb’s extended family
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:29] Sounds awesome.
Bob Bickford: [00:00:30] it’s awesome. And we get to, you know, see other family and kids run everywhere, jump on hay, bale, see cows and goats and you know, all that kind of stuff.
We shoot clay pigeons in the field and all that, and we enjoy homemade and the emphasis is on homemade. Mashed potatoes and gravy, Turkey dressing, brisket, all the fixings, deviled eggs, et cetera. So, so we’re not doing that this year because 70 people just probably not a good idea. So we’re gonna go visit my, my mom in Arkansas.
And, um, we’re, she’s getting the, uh, Thanksgiving dinner from, I think either Walmart or one of the local grocery stores. So the emphasis will not be on homemade. It will be on made.
JimBo Stewart: [00:01:21] very, very different Thanksgiving experience.
Bob Bickford: [00:01:24] Yes. So in terms of, and I know you are, if you have a refined pallet, Jimbo, people don’t know that about you. You are like, you’re a chef. You, you made a, you made a French person cry with your baguette. You know, you just like, you know, food, like, even though you like a Popeye’s chicken sandwich, you know, food, right.
So. Okay. So, so I’m going to have some Thanksgiving food. We’ll see how we’ll have to report back after Thanksgiving to see how it is. So it’s going to be kind of mass mass-produced pre-packaged picked up. Uh, and, and so we’ll see. So I’ll probably have gravy or just not enough for it to be that great.
JimBo Stewart: [00:02:09] Now, if you need a homemade gravy recipe, I can send you one and you can give it a shot. See if you can make it yourself. Hey in Arkansas. I think we can’t not talk about
Bob Bickford: [00:02:24] Yes.
JimBo Stewart: [00:02:25] battle of the boots. The last year we put a wager on the game. We did not put a wager this year. I think mainly we just forgot to, uh, but we did not put a wager on the game this year, but it was a close one.
Bob Bickford: [00:02:38] Yeah was, you know, I, I felt, um, that the Razorbacks are competitive, that they’re the most improved team, probably in D one football, uh, and you know, many announcers are saying that, so that that’s really cool to see. Um, but it was competitive. And I think, uh, you know, we, I don’t, I’m not making excuses, but we had a lot of our defensive line that were out.
Our starting defensive line was out. Um, you guys just time of possession, LSU won that battle and those guys were tired. There’s no pass rush at the end of the game. And then I think Phillip Bay, Frank’s just kind of decided he was going to try to take the team on his shoulders. And it was raining and he, he didn’t have on his long cleats and, you know, he just, it didn’t go well, but, you know, congrats to LSU on a, on a big win and congrats to Arkansas for being competitive.
And so I think it was, it was probably the best that both of us could have hoped for from our different perspectives.
JimBo Stewart: [00:03:36] Yeah, I think there were so many bad. I mean, it was just horrendous calls
Bob Bickford: [00:03:42] Oh yeah.
JimBo Stewart: [00:03:44] Part of me wonders. I don’t, and here’s the good thing is there was enough bad calls, both directions that I think it’s fairly well even now, but there were just a lot of bad calls
Bob Bickford: [00:03:58] Yes, there
JimBo Stewart: [00:03:59] made it a difficult game to figure out fairly who really.
Had the upper hand.
Bob Bickford: [00:04:05] That’s true. That’s true.
JimBo Stewart: [00:04:08] Well, Thanksgiving football, Turkey, gravy, all those things. Here’s what I want to do, Bob. I don’t want to. I don’t want to get too deep in the weeds here for Thanksgiving week. Guys, listen, nobody needs to be sitting down with a pen or notepad. Like I know they always do when I listened to our episodes and, and writing out their to do list and questions, but I think it would be beneficial to our hearts and to our listeners to just share some stories of some things going on in our churches.
That we are thankful for some things going on in our ministries that we are thankful for, because one of the things we’ve talked about recently is it so important right now in the midst of COVID and everything else going on in the world, it’s always important, but maybe a heightened importance of really focusing on stories over statistics.
What are the stories of God at work in your church? Not the statistics. So. Bob, do you have something you’re thankful for that you’d like to share with our listeners?
Bob Bickford: [00:05:18] Yeah, Jimbo. The first thing that comes to my mind is I’m thankful for new leaders and the energy that they’re bringing to church. Um, I, I think we have two new elder candidates that we’re going to introduce tonight, uh, to the church family on our online meeting. And, uh, and they’ve just been great to have, they, they’re excited.
They’re, they’re bringing ideas they’re, uh, contributing and I think they’re going to be great additions to our, our elder team. So we’re going to go from three elders to five in addition to these two. And, uh, so I’m just looking forward to that. Tonight’s the introduction to the church family to be.
Praying for these men and then we’ll have a time of, um, affirmation for them later. So, um, I think of those two, I also think of the, the folks who’ve stepped up in the tech areas. Who’ve done a really fantastic job since we’ve had to go online during COVID and what all they brought to the table. And, uh, and that’s just been awesome.
And then we have a treasurer who is a, uh, is it an accountant from a large grocery store chain around the area? And Ben, I could just send him some information and he can, he can make a spreadsheet, look like a Picasso painting, man. He’s just like, It is awesome. And, uh, he’s able to track down, you know, uh, discrepancies.
And if we got an expense categorized in the wrong area and you know, all those sorts of things and, um, and just, it’s really awesome to see some individuals using their gifts. To have a positive impact on the church. So I am Greenly extremely thankful for our, uh, our leaders and our, uh, our new leaders in particular.
Who’ve really stepped up, I would say, in the last six to eight months.
JimBo Stewart: [00:07:06] That’s incredible. If, if you have not intentionally reached out and shown some extra gratitude for your tech volunteers lately, you should probably do that. Uh, this, this has been a season most likely where there’s been more adapting and work in that area than anywhere else. I know. Right. Everybody’s had to adapt, but a lot of people, you know, like children’s ministry, things like that have adapted to less, but just because.
They’re not able to do as much, but man, the tech demands that this season has brought is enormous. And so show some thankfulness and some gratitude to those tech volunteers.
Bob Bickford: [00:07:53] A good word, whereas we could not do what we have done without them. And so I’m just grateful for them. How about you Jimbo, as you think through, uh, things to be thankful for? What are some things you’re thankful for?
JimBo Stewart: [00:08:07] Well, we are in the midst of a pretty massive ministry transition in my life. And
Bob Bickford: [00:08:14] news. Big news here.
JimBo Stewart: [00:08:16] yeah, this Sunday will be my final Sunday as the pastor at redemption church, close to seven years there as the replant pastor starting as Hibernian at Hyde park. When I arrived here and. Then a redemption church for several years now.
And so it, it’s an interesting season. I’m in the middle of trying to clean out all the books in my office and, uh, realizing I have way too many of those books, um, and figuring out how they’re going to fit in a home office. Um, as I transitioned to working full time with the North American mission board.
Uh, with replanting and revitalization and strategy and resources. And, and I’m excited about that season of ministry and excited to continue to work with the Jacksonville Baptist association, serving churches locally, which is going to keep me locally grounded and still kind of in the trenches of some things.
Instead of me being in the trenches of the pastor of a replant, I’ll be in the trenches, helping several churches here in Jacksonville while I’m also working with them. But in the midst of that, there has really been a season of reflection. Naturally, as you close a chapter, somewhere, you reflect back and you think, but even looking forward, one of the hardest things to accomplish here for me was getting a good core of young people.
Uh, we started with senior adults and, um, we reached children and some teenagers. Well, we just had a really hard time kind of getting people in their twenties. And here’s the story I would hear over and over some young couple or some young person and their late teens, early twenties would come to the church and they’d be excited for a few weeks about everything.
And then inevitably, every single one of them would come to me and say, you know, there just aren’t enough young people here. And so I think I’m going to find somewhere else to go. Bob has every young person that told me that stuck around, we would have a massive, massive group of young people at this church right now.
Bob Bickford: [00:10:31] And you know what happens, Jimbo. They always calm. All those young people come and visit. They never come on the same Sunday. They always come when you have your lowest attendance and only the people that are there are your senior adults. That’s when they show up.
JimBo Stewart: [00:10:45] Well, here’s, what’s been encouraging is really over the last year or two. That is starting to change. And we started to get more of a core. And for a little while there, they were kind of all not connected. I tried to kind of connect them all, but it would be like these couple of young people over here, these couple of young people over here, but man, Alaska, maybe several months as we have reopened since COVID, I guess it’s Brock some of the ones that have started attending and haven’t all started coming back.
Uh, together and almost every Sunday morning now, um, I watch that large, it becomes this large group to me, large group of like 20 young people that just gather outside the church in the parking lot after service for like 20 minutes, they’ve been going to lunch together and, and having a good time. And there’s two young men in that group that I’m discipling right now on a weekly basis and discipleship group.
And. And they have said or sad that you’re leaving, but it’s kind of energized us all and really brought us together. And we’ve realized that as the core group of young people in this church, we can help set the tone for how things go forward with good energy and a positive mindset, or we can sit back and grumble and complain, and we decided we want to step up and help set the tone in a positive way.
Man that was so encouraging to me to see that and hear that and think what a benefit that’s going to be. I don’t want to tell you whoever the next pastor of this church. And I mean, this, I really do mean this, whoever the next pastor, this church is, is so blessed because I have done a lot of the hard work had gotten rid of a lot of the toxic people and, and pretty much everybody left is just thinking awesome.
And this is going to be a great church for somebody to get to come in and take it to the next level.
Bob Bickford: [00:12:37] no, that’s really an important work. Um, That a lot of us are called to, to be the film nation guys. You know, so Jimbo, you, you were able to come to visit us, you know, a couple of weeks back and you saw a lot of the, the homes in my city are a hundred years old and what’ll happen is an older person will live out their life, you know, and they’ll pass away.
And then the kids will inherit the home and the kids don’t want to mess with the home and they’ll, they’ll sell it. And what happens is somebody comes in and they tear the home down and they scrape it to the ground and they put in a new foundation. And really that’s what a really planter does in many ways.
He, he comes in and he builds a foundation. Whenever you look at a home, uh, and the foundation is solid and good most of the time, you don’t say, man, that’s a beautiful foundation, right. Unless there’s really problems with it. Right. Then you’re concerned about it. And you usually move on. So a lot of times re planters and revitalizes our foundation guys.
Right. And they may not scrape it and put in a new foundation, but they certainly shore it up and they they’ve, you know, improve it. And so a couple of things, one is thank you for doing that at your church and, and building that. And then now I think the, the, the reality is somebody who comes in after you, whatever they build, they build on the legacy of, of what you left them.
And you were dealing with a legacy that wasn’t great as a replant or all of us who are re planters or revitalizes, or in some ways are dealing with legacies. That aren’t that great. There’s always some good parts of the church, right? There’s always something to celebrate. So I don’t want to make that mistake of bleeding our listeners to think that there’s not anything to celebrate, but there’s a lot of work to be done.
But the good thing is you can walk away from that situation. And just hearing the way that your, your young crowd and particularly those two leaders have given word about what they feel the call on their life is now. And that’s just great. Right? So you can transition out and be very thankful that one, the Lord’s brought them to the church.
Two, that you’ve been able to invest in them in three through no, really. Um, you can’t make them respond in that way, but the work of the Lord has made them respond in that way. And so the third thing, the most important thing to celebrate is just the work of God in their life to, to, to say that to you.
And I mean, that’s what a great honor and what a great privilege.
JimBo Stewart: [00:15:07] I also want to celebrate that. I’m getting to leave this church with a good elder team. There’ll be four elders, uh, still in places relieved that I’ve got a interim that is going to step in and do a great job. He was actually been our replanting resident in training for the last year. And so he’s going to step in and take that interim position.
But I want to tell you maybe one of my favorites stories of my seven years, uh, at our church and the story of one lady that was a person of peace in our neighborhood. When I got here seven years ago and change the story of this church with her life, that God used her in such a mighty way. As I said, I’ve done a lot of reflecting and thinking back on things, um, There is this one story that just keeps coming to my heart.
There’s a lady named Barone when I first got here 20 senior adults, or so maybe 30, uh, on a good Sunday, 20 or 30 senior adults in a neighborhood that is incredibly diverse, demographically, racially, ethnically socioeconomically, and every way you could possibly imagine. And so one of the first things I did is just walk around the neighborhood a lot.
And just get to know people and I would just find people outside and I would ask, Hey, I’m a, I’m a brand new pastor in the city, and we’re trying to revitalize re kind of start this church, uh, as we do that, I want it to be a church for this community. If we were to succeed in doing that in your mind, what would that look like?
How, how would this church be a church in the community? I was just the way that I began conversations with people in the community. And I remember coming across the Barona. Verona was sitting with another lady. They were both heavily intoxicated with alcohol and supervising about 15 children on one trampoline.
And I think just all the kids in that, on that block all came to that trampoline. And they were grown on this other lady where the somewhat responsible adults that were supervising them. And I remember introducing myself. And, uh, they made fun of my name, which is typical, not mad about it. That happens. Uh, it can be an icebreaker, no matter where I am, every country I’ve ever traveled to on missions.
My name becomes a point of humor and an icebreaker. And so I remember she made fun of my name and I invited them. We were having kind of a big Easter lunch service and, uh, And, and she said she might come and I ran into her again. She said she might come, she ends up showing up Easter Sunday with our grandson, Danny.
She is drunk as can possibly be. I mean, just stumbling smell. You can smell it anytime she breeds. And, uh, like kind of took a nap during the sermon, but then the next Sunday she shows back up and she’s only a little bit tipsy and she’s there with Danny. The third Sunday in a row, she comes the third Sunday in a row.
Stone cold sober comes down during the invitation and says, pastor, I need to talk to you and your office tomorrow. So we scheduled an appointment for her to come by my office that next morning, she lets me know that she’s on probation. She’s been evading her probation officer for about a month now. And she had not planned on coming to church, but her mama raised her to always go to church on Easter.
So she figured she’d come here, this white man named Jim bell and see what he had to say.
Bob Bickford: [00:18:42] All right.
JimBo Stewart: [00:18:43] And she doesn’t remember what I said she got, and she said, I don’t know if you can tell, but I was drunk that first Sunday. And I said, not only could I could tell everyone could tell. And she was like, like, Oh, I’m so embarrassed.
I was like, it’s all good. It’s all good. Don’t worry about it. Well, she said. The Lord’s working on my heart, something’s happening. I don’t know what’s happening, but I’m going to turn myself into my probation officer today. And so I just need you to check in on my grandson and my husband and I shared the gospel with her.
She prayed to receive Christ. I’m very genuine. And I gave her my card and I said, Hey, when you go talk with your probation officer and your probation, officer my card, and just tell them. That. Yes, you haven’t been innovating them and you’ve been trying to avoid them and everything, but that I’m helping you now.
And see if they’ll not send you to jail, if I’ll help you jump to the right house. So the probation officer show grace, she didn’t go to jail. I helped her through finished the probation process. We helped her jump through all the hoops, get everything taken care of. Next thing, you know, Verona became the little pied Piper of the neighborhood, walking to church with 1520 kids right behind her every Sunday morning, every Wednesday night.
And she would go, I remember one moment in a Sunday school class, a Bible study group class, when all these people who put on a good show and always looked like their lives were together, were in there. And they were talking about some things. And then Verona and just very Verona fashion. If you knew her just real brash, it was like, hold up, Tom out, everybody.
And everybody stopped and she goes, look, I don’t even know if y’all can understand my life. Like y’all over here talking about getting into an argument with your neighbor. Like I like crack and I’m trying to figure out how to walk with Jesus and not do crack. And she’s like just dropping like these crazy stuff.
But what was awesome, Bob is all these women in that class who had worked so hard to wear a mask and always looked like they had things together, started opening up. I started being very vulnerable and honest and open, and all of a sudden they realized they were all broken and in desperate need of Jesus.
And for the first time some people started being open about their brokenness and, um, and I. I coined a phrase out of that moment, that has been something in the DNA of our church ever since, where we encourage people to be openly broken and just know that we’re all broken. We just have different ways that that happens.
And the good thing is the grace of Jesus can help us. Now, I know I’m dominating our time, but this is such a great story because we’re not even near some of the best moments. So Verona. Brings our grand son, Danny. And, um, and they’re common constantly really immeshed into the church. She would oftentimes be one of the most encouraging church members to me.
I could still remember phone calls from her on a Sunday afternoon where she would just say it is some good pastor today and that’s all she would say. And then she’d hang up. And it was the shortest little encouragement call. She was wanting me to know that did good pastor in that day. Well, she ended up getting diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, stage four, and it was clear that the treatments weren’t going to work and it was just a matter of time.
So she calls me one day and she says, you need to come by the house. My husband, Melvin, wants to talk to you now. Melvin never wanted to talk to me. Melvin was an angry alcoholic with Alzheimer’s who rarely had a lucid moment and never wanted to talk to me. But he wanted to talk to me. So I go by the house and Melvin says, pastor, I don’t know if you know this, my wife is dying of cancer.
I said, I know. And he said, well, somebody needs to tell her. Cause she doesn’t seem to realize it. Cause she just walks around the house, singing these Jesus songs and smiling all the time. And I asked her why she was doing that. She said, I got to ask you. I said, okay. All right. So I shared the gospel with Melvin and in a rare lucid moment, he.
Genuinely received, the gospel got baptized. Um, and shortly before she died, she asked me to step outside and talk to her. I did. And she said somebody has to adopt him. I don’t want him to go into the foster system. And it has to be somebody from this church pastor. And I said, well, I don’t know that I can promise that.
I mean, we’re not a very large church. I don’t know that I can promise that somebody will adopt Danny and she goes, well, UNG is better. Figure it out. that’s what needs to happen. Yeah. So me and my wife fostered Danny for about six months and while she was in hospice and we prayed about adopting him and we’re certainly willing to, or just didn’t have a piece that that’s what we were supposed to do. Well, another guy in the church named Stanley who had come to our church, African-American married to a white woman and they had a son.
Um, but he had surrender to a call to ministry while at our church. And I’ve gotten to spend some time investing in him, preparing him for ministry. Um, they call us and essentially say, God has told us to adopt Danny and come to find out that Danny was born. Right around the same time that a child, if they had a miscarriage with was due and Danny went exactly to the right home.
And what’s neat is to look back. And even though it’s been a few years since Berona has passed away, I know in my own heart and in our church, there are several ways, uh, that her, that God used her to change my life and change this church. Forever. And for that, I will always be thankful.