Anyone who listens to our podcasts has heard me mention Elder D.J. Ward. He’s one of the men who ordained me and I openly admit that he, more than anyone, demonstrated to me what it means to be a pastor. I recently mentioned on a Sunday morning podcast that I had been listening to some old audio of Elder preaching and several folk asked if I would share some of that.
I’m happy to oblige.
The two segments I’m sharing today harken back to January 5, 1992. It was an evening service at Main Street Baptist Church in Lexington, KY. That evening there was a baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The whole recording ran about two hours and had a terrible hum and buzz throughout. So, I did some digital noise suppression to it in an attempt to make it less annoying. But, because the noise was so loud, that process also suppressed some fo the ambient noise and congregation response. Still, the end result if quite listenable.
These segmenets are edited, obviously. Elder occasionally engaged in long pauses. I shortened some of them for listenability’s sake. And I removed some of the references and comments that only fit that occasion and timeframe. But, the essential message — and the power with which he delivered it — is intact.
On the last occasion that I saw Elder alive, we were gathered in Chattanooga for the annual men’s conference. Elder taught the preachers during the day, seated in a chair, breathing oxygen from a tank, his voice barely above a whisper. But sometimes he’d forget himself and start preaching with a surprising vigor. He moved us to tears. He cajoled us. He instructed us. And he made us laugh, forgetting for the moment that our friend and mutual pastor was in his last days.
After he was done, we gathered downstairs at New Home Baptist Church for a fish dinner. Not supper, mind you. Dinner. Elder always made that distinction. I was seated at his table. But, before I sat down, I stopped and kissed his head, saying, “You can throw cancer on the man, strap him to an oxygen machine, and make him sit down, but he’ll still out-preach me on my best day.” He threw his back and laughed.
But, it’s true.