Hayneville Baptist Seeing God’s Move, Changed Lives, Continued Baptisms
Tonya Meck says she liked to make people’s faces blush.
âI lived a very ungodly life and bragged about what I had done,â she explained. “I loved the shock and the awe.”
Meck grew up in and out of church, and when she was nine her sister and cousins ââwere being baptized and she wanted to do the same.
âI learned all the correct answers,â she said.
But Meck didn’t quite understand what she had done, and growing up, she didn’t make Christ a part of her life. But one day, a few years ago, her whole life fell apart.
âI ended up having a stroke in both eyes and I’m now visually impaired,â she said. And other health problems and family problems piled up.
“God was bringing me to my knees,” Meck admitted. âI felt this overwhelming sadness and emptiness, and I cried. It was as if God was opening my eyes for the first time to the Holy Spirit.
And He began to transform her life. She moved from Michigan to Alabama to be closer to her son’s family and began attending church. She was âhungryâ for information on how to help her relationship with Jesus grow and âcouldn’t get enoughâ.
God started to move
God began to move in Meck’s heart to love him more and love others as well. She started a food ministry out of her apartment.
Some time later, Meck bought a house in the area of Hayneville Baptist Church and began to attend.
âI felt this call that this is my home and this is where I am going to be baptized,â she said. âI had only been to church for a month and asked if I could get baptized and join church. It’s just a blessing, a complete blessing.
Meck’s story is amazing, and Neal Hughes, Director of Missions for Montgomery Baptist Association, said it was part of the fabric of something even greater than God is doing at Hayneville Baptist.
âThe church is receiving an unusual flow of the Holy Spirit on its congregation,â he said. âAttendance records are skyrocketing, with baptisms and re-enlistments among each generation. “
Pastor Andy Hepburn noted that the church has baptized someone five of the last seven Sundays, some after holiday Bible school.
“We have already baptized eight of the nine children who made professions of faith at VBS, along with some of their families,” Hepburn said. âVBS has been a huge success this year. We missed it last year – everything was online – and people were ready to come back. “
That describes a lot of what’s going on at Hayneville Baptist right now, he noted. When face-to-face meetings were interrupted for a while due to COVID-19 and the congregation tried other ways to meet, they had a “slow start” to get back to normal. But it was soon clear that even though their numbers were smaller, God was building new excitement among the people.
âWe’ve had high (attendance) days and really low days,â Hepburn said. âBut he was good. Even with smaller numbers, it seemed like God was doing more things in our lives when we got together, even though the numbers varied from side to side. Then sometime after July 4th. , he started this climb, and he hasn’t stopped yet.
Openness to God
Hepburn said something about the pandemic break made people feel a different kind of freedom when they returned to worship, almost as if the normal routine had been broken in a good way.
âThe openness of our people to God first and to others has just unfolded in a supernatural way,â he said.
And the people come to church and come to faith. A man – Gene Wheeler – was baptized recently after Hepburn visited him and shared the gospel.
âI have considered myself a Christian my whole life,â said Wheeler, 69. âI was in and out of churches. I never made the commitment. But as I spoke with Andy, I felt it was time for me to do something. I know this is all by the grace of God.
He was “sitting on the edge of his seat, ready to give his heart to Christ,” Hepburn said.
Hepburn feels like God is doing a âgreat thingâ at the church, and that made the congregation’s 175th anniversary celebration on October 10 even sweeter.
âI have asked God for one more revival in my life, and it seems to be happening,â he said. âIt’s about to be; it happens.