By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
FRANKLIN — In early 2004, life was going great for Ridley Barron, former youth minister at Forest Hills Baptist Church in Nashville. Four years earlier he moved to Douglas, Ga., to plant a new church in the southeast portion of the state, and the church was taking root.
On Good Friday of 2004, Barron’s world was rocked forever. A tragic car accident took the life of his wife Sarah Ellen. His 17-month-old son survived the accident but died following a hospital-induced medication error, leaving Barron with two young children.
Immediately following the crash, before he was even removed from the car, Barron recalls a conversation with God that would continue for months to come. In a book he later wrote about the experience (Twist of Faith), he said God’s presence became more real to him as he sensed God reminding him, “Ridley, you are not going to be alone. Haven’t I always promised you that? Now, just trust me. We will get through this. I promise.”
And, God kept His promise.
Barron moved back to Middle Tennessee and served as pastor of Ridgeview Community Church (now Hope Church) in Franklin and formed Ridley Barron Ministries. He left that pastorate in 2011 to devote more time to his ministry. He became a nationally known speaker on topics such as quality of care, survivor guilt, and the second victim in hospital errors. He also leads marriage and family retreats and youth conferences as well as leadership training for organizations. His journey has taken him to every state and Canada.
“I talk about faith and how God gets you through difficult situations,” he said.
In 2007, he married his second wife Lisa, who had been beset by failed marriages and broken promises. They are now partnering together as she encourages women around the country with words gained from her own experiences, laughter and faith.
About seven years ago they began attending The Church at Station Hill in Spring Hill, a church plant from Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood. He served on staff in an interim capacity for a while before pastor Jay Strother asked him and Lisa to consider leading a new work, originally in College Grove. The new mission has since joined with an older, but struggling, church in Chapel Hill to become Grove Hill Church (see related story).
“I was missing the pastorate,” acknowledged Barron, who added that he will continue his speaking ministry but on a much smaller scale.
He is enjoying the challenge of blending two congregations. He noted that his wife Lisa observed that God uniquely prepared them to lead a blended church because of their backgrounds. She had children from her previous marriages and Barron had his son and daughter.
“We are using lessons we learned as we blended our families as we now lead a blended church,” he said.
After about three months, it’s been a smooth transition thus far, he said.
“I’ve been a Christian for 33 years (since he was 8 years old). I’m still amazed at what He does.” B&R For more information on Barron, visit ridleybarron.com.