"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Tybee Church stole my heart - Part 1

  I recently wrote about going to Tybee Island and speaking in a church known as the Tybee Church, also known as the Bar Church, because they meet in Benny’s Tavern on Sunday mornings.  Before I went, all I knew about the church was what I had seen on YouTube and what I had been told by a good friend from college who lives on Tybee and goes to the church. In fact, all I knew about Tybee Island was from reading Beverly Wittler’s columns about her love for the island community. Now I know why she feels this way.

  I arrived on the island mid-afternoon on a gorgeous Friday afternoon. I found my motel easily and spent the afternoon catching up with my friend, strolling the beach and the streets of Tybee. It was a different experience because before now I had only been to a beach town as a tourist, not a “local.” However, walking around with a local person kinda automatically put me in the same category and I began to meet the often unseen local residents of the island.

  Before long we ended up in front of Benny’s and Dedra took me inside to let me see where the church would be meeting. It was a bar. A dark, smoky, smelly beach town bar. My first thought was basically, “uh oh.” However, as my eyes adjusted to the light, I was being introduced to Betty. She was a lady I had seen just a few weeks earlier on the online church service being prayed for, hugged on, cried over and just loved all over because her daughter had just passed away. I could feel the love and care from that group of people all the way here in McDonough.

  “Wow,” I thought. “That’s an amazing group of people to be surrounding this dear woman and praying for her…..and in a bar.”

  However, as I sat at the bar (on a Friday afternoon this was a fully functioning bar….not a church) and listened to Betty tell part of her story and what the church and people meant to her, I felt a presence of God gently entering that corner of the bar.

  After seeing the stage area to the side where the bar bands play during the week and the church band plays and speaks on Sunday (often the same band), we left and I immediately saw an older man sitting on a bench watching traffic and the people passing by. Naturally, Dedra knew him (she knows everybody between Savannah and Jacksonville, I believe), and she introduced me to Bob. We sat with him for a bit and, again, I heard a lot of his life story. The most miraculous thing that has stuck with me day and night since then is that he is thirty-years sober. He, too, is a regular at the Tybee Bar Church and shared the following with me.

  “I like to go early on Sunday morning when the guys start to transform part of the bar into a church. I did a lot of sinning in this place during my life, and others still do every day, and it is my time of healing to see this place of sin become a place of God. It’s what keeps me strong,” shared Bob.

  Well, I am out of space, and you haven’t even met the preacher, so I’ll just have to continue this another time. But, let me just say one thing. Folks, my life changed at Tybee Church. They stole my heart, as I have said. I met people who love those who are often unloved; people who have such a simple childlike love for God (a good thing) and love to come together once a week; people who love and take care of each other and their community. That’s what church is.
  And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.


At 6:42 AM, Blogger Alisa said...

YOur post spoke to my heart, especially Bob's comment," to see this place of sin become a place of God."

I am looking forward to hearing more about the people who stole your heart!


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