Charles Lawhon says what makes the Rev. Mike McBride and his wife, Jean, special is their legitimate concern for people.
“It has never been about them,” Lawhon said. “They have always been about helping others here and abroad.” Lawhon, a sales manager for Arrow Exterminators, has been a member of Trinity Temple Assembly of God Church in Columbus for more than 20 years. McBride, 70, is retiring this month after 28 years as pastor.
He said McBride’s door has always been open for anyone in the congregation who had a problem with “no pecking order.”
Lawhon said the church regularly feeds the homeless and collects toys and necessities for needy families at the holidays. In the neighborhood, McBride has reached out to help those at smaller churches.
“I’ve been on trips with him to South and Central America to build churches, schools and orphanages,” Lawhon said. “Though he is in charge, he is right there with the workers laying bricks and putting in pipes. He rolls up his sleeves and is right there mixing cement and mud.”
McBride called the approximately 25 mission trips he has made out of the country and seeing the needs of the people “life changing.”
“You can hear reports or see a video, but it is not the same,” McBride said this week. “You don’t understand what a mission is until you have done it and see how the gospel works in other places than where you are at.”
The church supports approximately 40 missionaries and ministries.
McBride said the years at Trinity have gone by quickly.
“I look out into the congregation and see kids I’ve dedicated to the Lord and now they have kids. Yet, it seems like just a week ago that I gave my first sermon.”
That was in 1984.
His final sermon will be this Sunday, but it won’t be about him.
“I am going to speak about the essence of Christmas, what it is all about,” he said. “I think that is a good way to put a period to my ministry.”
He still plans to minister in some way, do some speaking, though, he may not find much time because his wife of 47 years, who leads Trinity’s women’s ministry, says she has a very long “honey-do” list for him. After a knee operation, he will find time for one of his loves, golf.
The father of two sons, Lee and Patrick, said his time at Trinity has been “demanding and rewarding.”
Asked what he has liked the most, he said “working with people, being there when they needed someone.” And that is no matter the time of day or night.
McBride found out early in his ministry that the job is 24/7.
“It’s not like a business when you lock the door at 6 at night and you are through for the day,” he said.
McBride knows what that business world is like. The 1960 graduate of Columbus High was in the auto parts business when in 1975 he decided to attend Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla., and join the ministry. McBride, who served four years in the U.S. Air Force, said he was involved with a nondenominational Bible study when he heard the Lord’s call.
“The first time I sat in a seat in class I knew I had made the right decision,” McBride said. “I have never regretted it.”
His first job was at Evangel Temple, which was then in the same building Trinity is in now. In 1980, he pioneered a church in Lincolnton, Ga.
He said the times have changed in the years he has been in the ministry. He said, for one thing, his preaching is “more supportive of people.”
“People no longer have simple problems. With different lifestyles, divorce and fragmented families you have to minister to a diverse segment” he said. “You have to be aware of current issues and adapt to meet the needs of the culture. What is happening in the economy has put tremendous pressure on young people.”
He said the church has had to adapt in other ways.
“You have to be innovative with your worship style. We now blend contemporary music with the traditional hymns and psalms. You have to have young people,” he said.
A survey taken by the church found that in a congregation between 200 and 250 that, while 36 percent were ages 56 or older, 46 percent were 40 or younger. He said that is good because the balance is needed for a “healthy church.”
The most memorable time for him at Trinity was three years ago when the church put together a special program honoring him on his 25th anniversary at Trinity that was attended by many members past and present.
“You always wonder if you’ve done good with your life. You always want to hear if your life has made a difference,” he said. “That was a wonderful experience, and we still watch the video.”