Hospitality and Events

Posted on September 9, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

The holiday weekend got off to a great start hosting college friends for a cook-out and watching football in the man cave. Having a few weeks at home have given us an opportunity to host friends from the neighborhood, our life group at church and local buddies that go all the way back to high school more than 50 years ago. Saturday we finally connected with Farley Earnest, my college roommate for four years at Mississippi College, along with Gordon Sansing, Allen Stephens and their wives. Farley has retired following years of music ministry in Mississippi churches, Gordon has pastored FBCs in Pontotoc, Vicksburg and Forest, and Allen continues at Director of Missions in Rankin County on the east side of Jackson.

Hospitality-backyardLabor Day was an opportunity to get back into some yard work after a couple of months of neglect due to summer travel. That is what “labor day” is all about, isn’t it? In spite of heat in the 90s, it was gratifying to clean the flower beds in preparation for fall planting, edge the lawn and refresh mulching around azaleas and fruit trees. (By mid-afternoon I was glad Labor Day comes only once a year!)

We are preparing for a couple of extended fall trips with engagements across Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Meanwhile, we have had several enjoyable local road trips, including three to Hattiesburg for events related to my tenure on the board of trustees at William Carey University. Last week was a scholarship banquet featuring U.S. Senator Roger Wicker and Congressman Steve Palazzo. Next week will be a trustee meeting, and the previous week was the privilege to speak at the dedication of a new dormitory named for former missionaries Ralph and Cora Joyce Davis.

Hospitality-MissionarycoupleI am pictured with Cora Joyce, who is now 90, and her children, David and Nan. Ralph and Cora Joyce were the first graduates of William Carey to go to the mission field, appointed to West Africa in 1950. They served for 20 years in Nigeria and 15 years in Ghana. It has been a joy to see the growth of William Carey with an enrollment that now exceeds 4,000 students. In the last four years, under the leadership of Dr. Tommy King, eight new buildings have been completed and four others expanded. Three new doctoral programs have begun and the number of inter-collegiate athletic teams have increased from seven to 14. Most distinct, however, is the unique spiritual emphasis challenging students this year with the theme, “Building a Firm Foundation.”

Hospitality-coupleOne of these trips to Hattiesburg continued down Highway 49 to the coast, for a Jackson County Great Commission banquet at FBC Gautier. This gave us the opportunity to visit with my sister, Jean, in Mobile and see Bobbye’s cousin Zelma Lofton. The occasion was to honor George and Geraldine Smith, IMB missionaries serving in Uganda as they return to the field following an extended stateside assignment. They were the first contemporary African-American missionaries to be appointed from churches in Mississippi in 1998 and have been special friends over the years owing to our common roots. It would be hard to find anyone more passionate about reaching a lost world and living in obedience to God’s call.

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