Tennessee is my home. I grew up in the small West Tennessee town called Lexington.
Lexington is the county seat for Henderson County. An 1821 act by the state of Tennessee’s legislature created Henderson County, named for Colonel James Henderson who commanded Tennessee troops at the Battle of New Orleans. He had also been on General Andrew Jackson’s staff in earlier military campaigns.
Shortly after the county’s founding, a site near its center was selected to become the county seat. It was named Lexington in honor of Lexington, Massachusetts, where the first battle of the Revolutionary War was fought.
I became a resident of Lexington within a year after I was born, when my dad and mom moved me and my 4 brothers. Our house was within a short walk and an even shorter bicycle ride to the city square. One of the great things about growing up in the sixities was our parents felt safe to just let us play and explore. My friends and I played ball almost every day during the summer at the Little League park (behind my house), went to the county fair every night (behind my house), walked to church, to school. In fact, my school was so close my dogs came up every day for recess and were waiting for me when I got out in the afternoon. We thought nothing of riding our bikes to downtown to get an “Orange aid” (like a Lemonade only with oranges) from the local Rexall drug store and buying baseball cards at my favorite store, Ben Franklin (at the time, a smaller version of Wal Mart). We dived into the boxes and created all kinds of forts at the local plant (behind my house). We stayed out all night playing kick the can and hide and go seek. Lexington and Henderson County were home. In many ways, they still are.
Tennessee is made up 95 counties with 95 county seats. Each county and each county seat has its own history and it own unique characteristics. I have asked God to give me a burden for Tennessee, its my home. One of the joys of serving as a state Missionary on the Tennessee Baptist Convention has been to travel the great state of Tennessee. I believe that I have been to all 95 counties in Tennessee. My standard practice when coming into a county is to circle the courthouse and when weather and time permit, to stop and pray for that county, its churches, and its people.
The Bible states that “When He (Jesus) saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”
Lord, give me a heart for your harvest and a burden for the thousands of people who live in the 95 counties and county seats of Tennessee. Help me to never be too busy that I miss an opportunity to share the good news with fellow Tennesseans and those that are visiting my great state. To proclaim to everyone the message of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world (including Tennessee and Lexington) that you gave your only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him (Jesus) should not perish but have everlasting life.”