Introducing an ‘imperfect pilgrim’

Published 10:31 pm Friday, December 5, 2014

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

I’ll never forget the moment I read this quote from the great church father, Augustine: “I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.”

As soon as I read those words, I thought, “That’s me.” For many years, writing has been a natural extension of who I am. It helps me figure things out. It gives me clarity. It burns away the fog in my thinking and lets the sun shine through.

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For many years I have kept a journal in which I write down prayers or reflections about what God is teaching me. And as I write, He seems to teach me even more. I “learn as I write.”

I also “write as I learn.” As a pastor, I am constantly studying the Bible and writing sermons that reflect what I am learning.

So writing is a major and very natural part of my life, and has been for many years.

Therefore, when I was approached about writing this column, it didn’t take long for me to say “yes.” I am writing all the time anyway, and the possibility of using it to encourage others is an exciting prospect.

Since this is my first column, let me tell you a little about me. I am a native of Suffolk, born and raised here. In 2012, after 20 years away serving various churches, I returned to my hometown to pastor the church where I grew up, First Baptist Church of Suffolk.

To be able to pastor First Baptist, a church family that gave so much loving nurture to me, is a dream come true. I met Christ there. I also met my wife, Melissa, there. We are blessed with three children: Caleb, Courtney, and Cassidy. So I am a pastor, husband and dad.

Above all, I am a child of God who is trying to follow Jesus in discipleship.

Like my predecessor, Chris Surber, I plan to write about a variety of things in this column. Since I am continually studying and reflecting upon Scripture, I’m sure I’ll write quite a bit about what the Bible teaches us about life.

But I am pretty eclectic in my interests: I enjoy movies, music, literature, history and sports. At times I will write about all of those things, and some of the things we can learn from them. And since we don’t live in a vacuum, there will be times when I will interact with current events.

My goals are to encourage you and stimulate your thinking. I do not desire to point to myself. I am only a very imperfect pilgrim who is trying to follow Christ. But I do want you to follow Him.

He has changed my life and continues to change it. I have been on the receiving end of His love, and in some way, I want this column to be a vehicle in which His love can flow through me to others.

I hope you will make this column a part of your weekly experience and share it with others. And remember to keep Chris and his family in your prayers as they serve God in Haiti.

Thurman Hayes is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.