By RENEE FITE
People attend church for a variety of reasons: to worship, to encourage their faith, spend time with Christian friends, to find God, and to learn about salvation.
Seldom do people stay with a church where they don’t feel comfortable, happy, loved, or inspired.
“We aren’t here to tell you how to live your life; we are here to tell everyone about everlasting life,” said Lance Cole, pastor of Free Will Baptist Worship Center. “Church members are like anyone else; they make mistakes and they don’t always do what’s right. But the Bible says those who are truly saved are marked by faith, hope, and love. I hope our church members show those traits.”
Cole, who has been at Free Will Baptist for three years, was always drawn to pastors, even before he was a Christian.
“I believe it was God working on me, preparing me for the task ahead,” he said.
When he became a Christian, Brother Darrel Ragsdale was the pastor at the church he attended while growing up: Peggs Free Will Baptist Church.
“He was there when I starting teaching and preaching. He also performed the marriage ceremony for my wife, Cristy and I,” Cole said.
Two other people influenced him, as well: his wife and his aunt, Thelma Hammonds, with whom he was staying with when he was saved.
“Even though Cristy and I were not dating, her influence and spiritual singing sowed a seed that would bloom into salvation,” Cole said.
He became a Christian after reaching adulthood.
“God put a strong desire in me to study and teach the Bible. I became a Christian a little late in life, when I was 30,” Cole said. “Within a few months, I had read through the Bible several times. About eight months after becoming a Christian, the desire to preach and minister to God’s people became more than I could hold in. In other words, I was called. It was about eight more years before I would pastor.”
The Coles returned to Tahlequah to pastor at Free Will after leading another church.
“It was our home church before we left to pastor in Sapulpa. When we decided to come back, we found out the Worship Center was without a pastor. We just came back home,” Cole said. “This is home. We grew up in this area. My parents both graduated from Tahlequah and Northeastern State University.”
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