I spent this past weekend in Chicago with my friend, Romell Williams, who was celebrating his third pastoral anniversary at the Lilydale Progressive M.B.C. I had the privilege of preaching during Romell’s installation celebration. And I have been with him each year during his anniversary celebration, preaching in his two morning services.

I met Romell when he was the youth pastor of a large church in suburban Chicago. A mutual friend hooked us up, commending Romell to me as one of the best young preachers in the country. And upon meeting him and hearing him, he backed that up. Romell bleeds preaching. It’s just in his system. And over the past several years, his keen preaching mind has been married to his sharp pastoral vision. And the Lord is using him to do a great work at the Lyllydale Church.

The worship services were held at a local high school gym, as the Lyllydale Church building is undergoing an extensive renovation of its main auditorium. I had the opportunity to see the designs and graphics for the renovated building. And they are absolutely beautiful. And I am greatly encouraged by sense of faith, prayerfulness and unity with which this pastor and congregation are undertaking this massive project. Please remember Romell and the Lillydale church in your prayers over the coming weeks as this project is completed.

As the afternoon service for Romell was concluding, I rushed out heading for the New Covenant M.B.C. Dr. Steven J. Thurston, who is also the president of the National Baptist Convenion of America, found out I was in town and invited me over to preach his live Sunday evening broadcast. By the time I arrived at New Covenant, it was time to preach. I was totally spent, and I felt the physical strain as I was preaching. But the Lord gave me strength to get through the message. I was just grateful to be there. Dr. Thurston has been very kind to me over the years. And this invitation was just another example of his big-heartedness.

Dr. Clay Evans, retired pastor of the Fellowship Baptist Church and the “Godfather” of Chicago Baptist preachers, was in attendance at New Covenant. I had not seen him in some time. And it was good to be with him in worship and to hear him sing, even though he only teased us with a verse or two. Dr. Evans and my father were friends. And I praise God that his friendship with my father has resulted in his kindness to me.