Farming brings bi-vo pastor joy
GILLIAM—Planting the seeds and reaping the harvest. Those phrases apply to Chris Weber in both of his vocations.
He is the pastor of Gilliam Baptist Church, located a few miles east of Slater in Saline County, and is a row crop farmer in business with his father raising corn and soy beans.
Weber became a Christian at the age of nine and said that he grew up in a Christian home and was involved in church activities in his teen years. Later, after Weber married his wife of 29 years, he received the calling as a deacon and later as pastor. Weber talked about being a farmer both physically and spiritually.
“I like to always talk about the ministry and talk about farming, too,” Weber said. “I have the two greatest jobs in the world. I get to see His handiwork and work with the miracles that take place in creation. The sowing of the seed. The growing of the plant. Then the wonderful time of harvest. In the ministry those same things happen in the hearts and lives of people. And so that is how I relate the two together, and it is a thrill to see the spiritual side of creation.”
It was in 2000 that Weber decided to respond to the call of Gilliam Baptist Church and step from being a deacon into the pastorate. Weber talked about that process.
“I really had not considered it,” Weber said. “I am really not like some that grew up thinking that they wanted to be a pastor. It really did not happen that way for me. It was more of a progressive thing for me. I found that it is in ministry that it is this way, too. If we refuse to take that next step with God, we might miss what the next step is, which would be something that we would really desire greatly if we could see beyond that. But He calls us to walk by faith and then when we by faith take that next step, which is how I relate back to the deacon ministry, ministering to people in the church body. But then stepping on beyond into the pastorate into a greater ministry of service to the people—the pastorate is a calling and a gifting, much like being a deacon is.”
They say that behind every great man there is a great woman. For many pastors their wife is the rock that helps to hold their ministry together. Weber talked about how his wife, Sandy, has energized their ministry.
“She has a real gift with people and she is a great blessing to me in the ministry as pastor,” Weber said. “She loves hands-on ministry with the people of the church and she does a wonderful job of reaching out to the needs of the people and assisting me in ministry and that is really an answer to prayer because for a time when I was in my home church we separated in ministry. I was in youth ministry and she worked with the children. I really had a desire in my heart to minister together and I really did not know what that meant at the time. God truly answered my greatest dream of what a husband and wife could be in the ministry. Her call has been fulfilled in this as well as mine and together we have been able to serve Him now in many of the same ministry opportunities, which thrills me.”
A lot of bi-vocational pastors find that their secular jobs bring them blessings they can use in their ministry. Weber described how his job as a farmer has freshened his ministry.
“Every farmer I know has a lot of common sense,” Weber said. “There have been days where I have been really tied down in the farming and running the combine and God would just graciously pour a revelation into my heart for the message for the next day. I always have bailing wire and a big toolbox in the back of my truck, and so I am prepared out here on the farm if things happen. If things happen, I want to be able to get things pieced back together. And in ministry it is that same way. We need to know in ministry the band-aids in life and how to tap into God’s best in the worst moments in life. Sometimes it is real simple things like God’s love and walking by faith and in His power.”
Weber shared the story of a man who has been a testimony to his congregation.
“Three years ago Roger went to the doctor not feeling well and had back trouble for quite some time,” he said. “When he went there the doctor took one look at him and then examined him and determined that he needed to be in the hospital. Later they found out he had bone cancer. They gave him zero chance for survival. I have been working with this man, ministering with him for a couple of years. They said he would never walk again. Two weeks ago he was in church and he is able to walk. I cannot explain it other than Jesus is still the healer and He is still the miracle worker and I just give Him all the praise and the honor and glory.
“Roger has become a wonderful witness. He tells people why he is still here. At his rest home he has a cheering section that cheers him every time he walks down the hall because he was so very ill and he has been recovering and no one can explain it other than Jesus.”
Weber talked about God’s relationship with farmers.
“God was the original farmer,” Weber said. “He has a garden. He has a vineyard. Jesus did talk about the green and the fields, so God was the original farmer.”