As we were exploring the small towns of northern Florida, back in Oregon pictures started coming in of significant structural damage to the church building Mark had preached in for 28 years after an intoxicated 20-year-old man had plowed into it, wiping out the sign as well. No one was hurt, and he was arrested on multiple charges.
If that wasn’t weird enough, we camped near a large group of ultra-right wing militia who rode motorcycles into our camp, whose founder is a descendant of cult you would likely recognize, but I'll not mention here. Let's just say we did our research on the spot and were rather surprised by what we learned.
When we pulled into our RV park in Perry, Florida, we were delighted to see it came with a nice fire pit and a couple Adirondack chairs. Several nights we put on an extra layer of warm clothes and built a fire, and made it to question #113 of our 450 “Good Question” conversation starters. (When you’ve been married over 41 years, you know each other pretty well, but there are always surprises that come up on occasion when the topics are as diverse as this collection of questions we’ve collected over the years. Try it! Here’s a “free sample”): https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zc1Oy4K6EMWTuDg-tI-USeuJ2fbNBkWf/view?usp=sharing
In the morning, Mark contacted the preacher, Aron Russell, to see if he could go to lunch while we were in town, and Aron, who recognized Mark’s name from his online show called Answering Religious Error, not only was spontaneous enough to say “Yes!”, he was kind enough to swing by the RV park and pick Mark up for lunch. They, along with an elder at the congregation, had a great, encouraging conversation. In fact, late afternoon the next day, Aron’s wife Cassie took us up on our last minute offer to treat them and their sweet kids to Mexican food before Bible class, where we got to know each other better.
As we chatted, we learned the congregation had been hit hard by the pandemic. Three had died and several had fought the virus repeatedly, still experiencing lingering physical side effects. Given those losses, we were impressed by the courage of both the Russells, all those at the congregation, including several young moms with children that lingered to exchange encouragement with us, and a friendly farming couple who invited us out to their country property for cake and warm conversation about their travel stories and ours. They were willing to take a physical chance to gain a spiritual advantage. This seemed so consistent with our study in 2 Kings of Hezekiah's reforms, with an emphasis on keeping the church pure from contamination by the world by resisting the influences of the culture. We found hardy stock in these northern Florida parts --- which is reassuring in a world full of such chaos around us. In fact, with all the young couples there supporting one another to raise the next generation of soldiers of Christ, you might say they live up to their name: Spring Warriors!
Spring Warrior Church of Christ
7432 S. Red Padgett Rd
Perry, FL 32348