By Joe LaGuardia
The following article is reprinted from The Rockdale Citizen. Please note that although Joe LaGuardia will no longer publish in the Citizen after April 29th, he and a community of Baptists will continue to publish for Baptist Spirituality and other publications. Please be sure to subscribe to our blog to keep up on our inspiring and thought-provoking publications.
Well, dear reader, it is about that time I say, “Goodbye!” God has called me to new horizons. As of May, I will head south to serve as pastor of First Baptist Church of Vero Beach, Florida.
Moving out of Rockdale County means having to move out of the religion section of The Rockdale Citizen. I have done all the reporting and commentaries that I can do; you’re on your own now.
I started writing for the Citizen about 8 years ago. Back then, we got the newspaper nearly every day. Some dude in a hatchback tried to knock over my mailbox with the daily edition. The religion section was indeed a section–in color, of course. It came out on Saturday, when people actually had time to read the religion section.
Now we’re in the back of the Friday sports section–just a different type of religion section, if you think about it– which people rarely read because they are getting boats ready for Lake Jackson rather than reading the newspaper on Fridays.
Nevertheless, my time with you every week has been a blessing. I enjoyed writing about the Bible, but I cherished reporting on stories from around the world and about religions not necessarily my own–weird stories, such as people coloring in adult coloring books as an act of worship, or the persecution of Muslims by Buddhist terrorists in Myanmar.
What I love most about writing is not just reporting on faith and culture, but engaging a community I have grown to love.
Rockdale County is a great place to worship and work. Anyone who tells you otherwise may need to pray about how they view the world around them. If you see the world as hostile and dangerous, that’s what you’re going to get.
Everywhere I go in the county, I meet the nicest people, many of whom are committed to raising their families right and living decent lives built on integrity, faith, and hard work.
I’ve never felt compelled to carry a gun; I’ve always believed that the Gospel was good enough. The only time I got scared about living in Rockdale was when I received word (from the Citizen, of course) that “City Slickers” was closing.
Having great people means everything else is great too. Conyers is one of the few communities I know where churches collaborate more than compete, pastors and directors of non-profits are close friends, and the local government is run by people who know you by name.
That is why Trinity Baptist has had an easy time working with so many people and agencies since its founding over 30 years ago. It’s also why we believe strongly in participating in Family Promise and other non-profits that help the neediest families in our community.
Jesus seems all the more glorified when we work together.
When my family and I made the decision to follow God’s call elsewhere, we had a church family to consider at Trinity–but we had an entire community to consider too. This is our home and, as much as its worth, this is our family. We are excited about obeying God, but sad to leave.
With only a few more articles to go (my last article in the Citizen will run on April 29), I wanted to mention what I loved about this place this time around. Next week, I hope to give a few challenges and words of wisdom for the road ahead.
When you sit and think about it–and consider that the Bible is correct when it says that for everything there is a season (Ecclesiastes 3:1)–I hope your memories and thoughts bring few regrets, warmed hearts, and a positive outlook for our community and the days ahead.