I participated in a Pastor’s Conference this week with the Directors of Campus Outreach. It was great to catch up with old friends and dream together about sending laborers into the harvest field (Matthew 9:36-38). The highlight of the conference was getting to spend some time with one of my heroes in the faith, Rev. Frank Barker. In 1960, Rev. Barker planted and began pastoring Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Over the last 50 years, Briarwood has been one of the most evangelistic and missions-minded churches in the world. Rev. Barker is now in his 80’s and has served the last 10 years as Pastor Emeritus. But it sounds to me like he is still ministering as if he were in his 50’s.
Rev. Barker is one of the pastors who encouraged me to go to seminary and become a church planter and pastor. Monday at dinner, we shared ministry “war” stories about being a pastor…officiating weddings, building campaigns, and taking huge steps of faith. God has used Rev. Barker to impact hundreds of thousands of lives for all eternity, and he remains one of the most humble men I know.
I got to know Rev. Barker through playing tennis together, and he still plays 3 days a week. On Monday evening at the conference, we broke into small groups to pray, and I had the honor of Rev. Barker praying for me. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me personally for him to pray for me, my family (specifically that my kids would not feel the pressure of being pastor’s kids) and Graystone Church. God is good!