The Family of God Away from Home

February 1, 2011

After living in dozens of different addresses (literally), who would have thought coming to Houston 3 years ago would be one of three times of life-changing personal growth. Leading up to my coming to Houston I, to my shame, had been resisting God in a specific area of interpersonal relationships. Enter Dolores Rader. Without knowing anything that was going on in my life she broke down all of the barriers that I had constructed and forced me to deal with this issue in my life through her persistent, gentle persuasion. Result –freedom from the prison of my disobedience; from the anger that churned within my soul that boiled over into hurtful sarcasm that tainted relationships. My wife continues to express surprise at the change she sees.

During the 8 months that these events occurred I spent my time here in Houston mostly alone while going to different churches on the Sunday’s I was in town. But not getting involved beyond attending Sunday morning service. Enter Steve Rader. In the caring way that he interacts with people so effortlessly, Steve invited me to spend time with the Rader family. What a wonderful gift that has turned loneliness into fulfilling relationship that comes from becoming an extension of a loving family. I continue to rely on Steve’s guidance in my interaction with the family so that I don’t overstep my welcome.

Then God called Dolores to become the Children’s Minister at SMBC. I wanted to show my appreciation to Dolores for what she had done for me by going to see her be introduced to the church. Not knowing exactly how long it would take to drive to the church I gave myself plenty of time to find the church and arrived at the end of the first service in time to hear some of Dolores’ testimony. Enter Perryman and Miriam Collins. Their genuine welcome and interest in me was a pleasant surprise. Even more pleasing was their continuing interest each week that made me feel more welcome. A bonus has been the opportunity to get to know my cousins Nancy and Dave McNeil. Nancy and I grew up in different parts of the country and only saw each other 3 or 4 times before now. What a special couple I’ve grown to love.

While attending Bible school I studied for a career in Christian Education with special interest in children’s ministry or camp ministry. Although I didn’t follow this career the Lord has used children’s ministry to bring me back into His service when I wander away that I have historically done with depressing regularity. So it seemed natural that I would work with Dolores in the children’s ministry. Problem – I need to be a member. Say what? OK, but I don’t want to leave my home church in Omaha since I’m still active there when I’m home and expect to be in Houston for only a time before returning home. Solution – become a Watch Care member. Enter the Family of God at SMBC. What an amazing feeling to stand at the front of the church and hear you commit to be the family of God to me in this place. I’ve never experience such an overwhelming feeling of support. But even more, you have kept your commitment and shown that it’s more than words that are recited. To anyone feeling like you need a place to belong and be loved; I recommend you commit yourself to this SMBC family. You’ll not regret your decision.

I don’t know how long I’ll be here. But when it’s time for me to go I’ll leave a truly enriched man; so grateful to Dolores and Steve for your love, for your input in me as a person, for inviting me into your life and family. I’ve seen you at work, in your home, at church, in fun times, in struggles. You’re real. Simply saying thank you seems inadequate. So I’ll continue “doing” to try to express my appreciation.

Blessings on each of you, my family away from home.


Sharing Our Stories…Andrea Hoxie

May 2, 2010

This is a fitting day to write about my family of God called South Main Baptist Church. It was seven years ago, Sunday, April 4, that I walked down the south aisle of that wonderful room in which we worship, I met for the first time “that new guy,” a man whom I came to love and respect as my pastor, and my friend.

For five years prior I had visited South Main. The 8:30 worship hour was perfect for me. As a minister of music, it was important for me to have personal worship time in which I could focus solely on communing with God, not having to fret over singers or musicians running late or just not showing up despite their commitment to be in place on time. That meant worshiping with a congregation that I did not serve. I was first invited to South Main by my good friend, Errol Brooks. That was odd, as he was not a member at that time either. Generally, I found the worship hour meaningful and substantial, with scriptures, prayers and songs relevant to the sermon. And, as important, I found the folks to be friendly and outgoing. They made me feel welcome. And if I missed a Sunday or two, a familiar face would greet me with “I was wondering what happened to you — I haven’t see you in a while — is everything okay . . .” .

I always left South Main thinking about when I might next return. On one special occasion, I attended a concert featuring Esther Hinds. I came in and took my usual place near the back. As other folks came in several stopped to speak and give me a word of welcome. Before the concert began, one woman left her seat near the front, came back to me and said “There’s an empty seat in the front. Why don’t you come up and sit with me?” Perhaps she has forgotten, but I hope to always remember Barbara McNeir.

Fast-forward to April 4, 2003. I awoke that morning, feeling the emptiness of not having a church home and being connected to a family of God. It was Sunday, after all, and I belong in worship with like-believing and like-minded folks. Recent weeks had been spent wandering from one house of worship to the next, leaving me feeling like an orphan. I just hadn’t found a place where I felt “at home.” “I know! I’m going to South Main!” The thought was so loud I imagined I heard myself speak the words. Then I called my daughter, “Sweet Pea! I’m going to South Main today.” “Good for you, Mom.” So, I mustered. As I drove around the west side of downtown Houston, an imp whispered in my right ear, “You know, that new guy is there. You don’t know anything about that new guy.” I replied, “That’s okay. Let’s give the new guy a chance.” (Note: you really have to watch the imps. They’ll keep you from doing anything you ought to do.)

I had not visited South Main in several weeks. It was before I had decided I need a church home more than I need to do music ministry. I was emotionally and spritually bruised, bleeding and broken. Even in that state, or perhaps because of it, the hymns bounced of their respective pages, closeting me in their warmth, comfort and blessed assurance. And the “new guy” had something to say. As the invitational hymn began, I found myself halfway down that aisle before I realized it. After the benediction I was overwhelmed by a stream of folks who greeted me with smiles and hugs and handshakes, renewed the acquaintance of the one who became my first and favorite Sunday School teacher, and met many who unknowingly tended my wounds and helped me to heal, just by being who God called them to be and doing what He called them to do –love one another. Their love and caring are unmistakenly genuine and unchanging.

In retrospect I have been the recipient of so much in so many ways in this my first 7 years as a South Mainer. My prayer and plan are that I will give more in the next.

Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.

We are never more like Jesus than when we SHARE…. As we learn to share our stories, we learn to share our faith…

Share Campaign 2010


Sharing Our Stories…Claire Frazier

April 29, 2010

By Claire Frazier, South Main Member

Claire Frazier is married to Joe Frazier.  She is active in our Music Ministry, starring in several productions of Bach to Broadway, South Main’s Summer Musical.

A few years ago our family was homeless. Not in the way you might think. We had a lovely house that was home to our family of 5. What we did not have was a church home. And although we had no lack of shelter, food or clothing, being “church homeless” was very distressing to us.

We spent a long time visiting churches in Houston, carrying our mental checklist for comparison – beautiful worship space, inspired preaching, strong music and youth programs and on and on. We stayed in some places longer than others, but still yearned for something more – a place to belong, a community, and the assurance of God’s will for our decision. I became so unsettled about the matter that I commented to Joe, “What if something happens to one of us? Without a church family, who would we call for help?”

South Main was home to many of our friends, and we had visited from time to time over the years. But at the time of our search, South Main was without a pastor. And fearful of getting involved during that period of uncertainty, we crossed it off of our “short list”. God, however, continued to nudge us in the direction of the church at 4100 Main Street. Our son Stephen had become active in the youth program after accepting an invitation from his friends. He soon made the decision to join and was baptized. Our friends began inviting us to worship every Sunday and our daughter Annie’s friends began inviting her to Sunday School and Youth Camp.

One particular Sunday, Thomas Coker invited me to sing for worship. And the next day something did happen to one of us. I received a phone call from M. D. Anderson with the news that I had cancer. The whirlwind that followed is a blur except for a few important details – Steve Wells was immediately by our side to support us and pray with us. The people of South Main surrounded us with love and prayers. And God’s voice was unmistakable on the morning you promised to be His family for us in this place, our new home.

We are never more like Jesus than when we SHARE…. As we learn to share our stories, we learn to share our faith…

Share Campaign 2010


Sharing Our Stories…Allison Jefferies

April 15, 2010

By Allison Jefferies, South Main Member

Allison Jefferies is a South Main Member who volunteers in the SMILE program and is part of the Fellowship of Young Families Sunday School Community.

Rob and I were married in the Westmoreland Chapel on June 30, 2001, but my life at South Main began even earlier. Rob and I met waiting tables while attending the University of Houston. We dated for a couple of years, graduated, started our careers and were engaged soon thereafter.

Why did we choose to join South Main? To tell the truth, I really just wanted to make sure he would go to church with me after we were married. I grew up at a St. Peter’s United Methodist church in Katy and was very active through high school, but had moved away during college. It was my desire to have a family that went to church together and knew we needed to start somewhere.

I asked Rob if he wanted to come with me to my church in Katy and he said, “Why don’t we go to South Main?” I was willing to try. I never assumed growing up that I would be at my childhood church for my whole life, but apparently he assumed he would be at his. Rob is a third generation South Mainer.

In 2000, before Rob and I were engaged, Dr. Ken Chafin started a new Sunday School class called New Beginnings for people just like Rob and me. Dr. Chafin, Betty and Julian Moss, and Maxine Bower were looking for young adult members and their fiancé(e)s or spouses who had grown up at South Main, were living in Houston, and were not as active as they should be. We started attending Dr. Chafin’s class and never looked back.

I love the teaching at South Main and, even more, I love the friends that we have made. Over the years I have had the opportunity to get involved in many ministries such as SMILE and SEARCH as well as serve on the stewardship committee. Today, Rob and I are raising our two daughters, Jenna and Ruby, and they seem to love South Main as much as we do.

We are never more like Jesus than when we SHARE…. As we learn to share our stories, we learn to share our faith…

Share Campaign 2010