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JACKSON — The labor of pastors as they seek to lead their congregations in a time of pandemic is not in vain, Ray Van Neste told a group of pastors and their wives at Union University on Sept. 8.
Van Neste, dean of Union’s School of Theology and Missions, spoke as part of the West Tennessee Pastors and Wives Appreciation Banquet that drew more than 100 people.
“Your faithful, steady service is accomplishing far more than you could ever imagine,” Van Neste said. “God often does not show us all he is doing. But we must believe. We walk by faith and not by sight. There is coming a day when you will see, and it will be worth it all. Brothers, stand fast. There is a resurrection.”
Van Neste said he wanted to encourage pastors because of feedback he has received over the past several months. Often pastors are discouraged in trying to figure out how to minister to their people during a pandemic, with some church members believing their pastors are too cautious and others thinking they weren’t being careful enough.
To address this, Van Neste expounded 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
“The resurrection gives you hope,” he said. “God will not allow one drop of your sweat or blood to fall in vain.
“It feels vain so often,” he continued. It might feel like it’s all for nothing right now. Right now, you may feel overwhelmed with the sense that you’ve poured out your heart and absolutely nothing in coming from it. You might feel useless and like it’s all a waste. But the Master sent me here to tell you it’s not so.”
Van Neste said the banquet is one of the most important events at Union each year, because Union exists to serve local churches and their pastors. The local church is the “pillar and buttress of the truth” and the bride of Christ, and Union aims to “be a good handmaiden to the bride,” he added.
The Voices of Proclamation from Union’s music department provided the music for the banquet, and attendees also heard from a Union alumnus who serves as a missionary in a closed country.
Bob Connerley, pastor of Brownsville Baptist Church, said he and his wife Patsy have been attending the banquet for several years and are always encouraged and challenged.
“Dr. Van Neste’s encouragement from God’s word gave us a new sense of hope in these troubling times,” Connerley said. “It is a joy to be associated with Union, whose firm stance on the word of God, evangelistic spirit and commitment to local churches is a blessing.” B&R
Ray Van Neste, dean of Union’s School of Theology and Missions, spoke as part of the West Tennessee Pastors and Wives Appreciation Banquet at Union on Sept. 8. B&R