At 98, North Carolina preacher Roy Jernigan remains to be enthusiastic about sharing the Gospel. Even after serving as a missionary on Indian reservations throughout the nation for 52 years, Jernigan received’t cease preaching as a result of his life is his ministry, and he needs folks to see Jesus once they see him.
After resigning from full-time duties as a pastor in Texas simply over a yr in the past to stay together with his daughter Linda Williams in La Grange, Jernigan has continued preaching to tons of of individuals weekly by means of his Fb ministry, Preacher Roy Ministries. And he stays energized to maintain himself obtainable for the Lord’s service by caring for his physique bodily and spiritually.
“Effectively, I’ll be sincere with you. In my life, [I] simply merely stayed with the Lord. He saved me after I was 28 years of age. I turned my life over to the Lord. And from that point on, I’ve tried to eat correctly. And I’ve exercised, saved my physique in good situation, and I stay proper,” he defined in a latest interview with The Christians Submit.
Had it not been for age-related macular degeneration — an eye illness that blurs central imaginative and prescient — Jernigan would nonetheless be main his church in Texas.
“My imaginative and prescient and my listening to are my two biggest issues. I’ve macular degeneration. Been getting photographs in every eye for the previous 11 years,” he stated. “That is one of many causes I left the mission. Within the pastorate in Texas, I may not see the folks. I may see, however I could not determine them. And I would have funerals and I could not learn the Bible. Now I’ve to cite from the Scriptures I would memorized by means of the years.”
Jernigan now depends upon his daughter, Linda, to drive him round however insists that so long as he can discover other ways to check and skim, he’ll proceed doing ministry on-line. Other than his imaginative and prescient, Jernigan says his well being stays sturdy.
“As you in all probability are conscious, I haven’t got a physician and I am on no remedy and I’ve been doing workouts. I do physique workouts or push-ups every single day. And I typically stroll a few mile or two. And I have been doing that for years and [this] has saved my bodily physique in good situation,” Jernigan stated when requested how he has managed to remain so wholesome in his previous age. “My entire life, folks say, ‘Why do not you retire?’ My life, actually, to be sincere with you, my life is my ministry.”
Jernigan just lately made nationwide headlines after deciding, with encouragement from his household, to go skydiving to rejoice his milestone simply two years shy of his centennial. He instructed CP that the explanation he determined to make the leap was to make use of the second to glorify God, and he has gotten the chance to take action already in a number of media interviews.
“In about September, October (2022), I began praying about this factor. And I stated, ‘Lord, if you will get the glory out of it, I’ll do it. However it’s not for me. I am not a thrill seeker. I’ve nothing to show. I’ve been up the mountain, down the mountain, by means of the valleys. I am not attempting to show something. But when I can provide the glory out of this, and you’ll give us the climate becoming, I am going to leap until you inform me no,’” Jernigan stated. “If it is a unhealthy day, I am going to know it is a no. And so I left it and I prayed frequently every single day.”
And the day of the leap, Jan. 24, turned out to be a vivid sunny day in North Carolina. Jernigan took the leap with Skydive Coastal Carolinas and survived, very similar to he did in World Struggle II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars as a Naval Corpsman.
Although he was just lately recognized with COVID-19, Jernigan, who bought vaccinated for the virus, stated God protected him from getting sick on the top of the pandemic whilst he misplaced a number of church and members of the family.
“I did have a number of of my members, as I say, who died with this. And I’ve a nephew that died with that factor in Virginia. However the Lord, my physique was in good situation. And I really feel like actually it is the Lord’s hand was with me,” Jernigan stated.
The strongest problem to Jernigan’s religion
In his 52 years of ministry, Jernigan recalled going through many challenges alongside the best way however none tougher than dropping his spouse, Lizzie, in January 2011.
“I suppose the worst time that I’ve had within the in these years, the worst half was my spouse had a coronary heart assault down in Hollywood, Florida,” he stated.
Regardless that medical doctors managed to revive his spouse, Jernigan stated she suffered mind harm and slowly deteriorated over a interval of about 5 – 6 years till her dying.
“She began off a gradual technique of degenerating within the thoughts and the physician instructed me it might in all probability be gradual however the mind … would in all probability die. These have been powerful occasions for me,” Jernigan recalled.
“We had executed all the things collectively from our childhood on. … When you noticed one, you noticed the opposite. We traveled collectively. We labored collectively. And he or she began dropping her thoughts. And it took about 5 – 6 years. And let me say to you, any individual that has not been by means of that can’t know precisely how an individual feels when somebody they love [is taken from them],” he stated.
“When that thoughts begins to fail and that they do not know what’s happening, it simply breaks your coronary heart. That was the hardest few years for me. And as we prayed collectively each evening, I would put her to mattress and I would say, ‘Honey, I like you.’ Then she’d say, ‘I like you,’” he continued. “On Sunday evening of January 9, 2011, I put her to mattress that evening and I stated, ‘I like you.’ The final phrase she ever spoke was, ‘I like you too.’”
Jernigan stated after his spouse’s dying he spent his life dwelling alone till November 2021 when, after Linda’s husband died, they each determined to maneuver again to North Carolina the place they’d be nearer to household.
“When she was going by means of the nice difficulties it was very powerful, however prayer and trusting the Lord, He introduced me by means of it,” he stated of his spouse’s passing. “I did not actually see any objective. However then I acknowledged that I had lots of people that beloved and prayed for me and wished me to maintain going. So I picked up the items and by God’s grace and mercy, I’ve continued on,” he stated. “There isn’t any doubt about it. When my spouse died, a part of me died. One of many folks stated the perfect half.”
On pastors and the state of the Church
Requested to touch upon the state of the American Church right now, Jernigan shortly defined that the primary driver of his religion is the Bible with out the trimmings of denominational restrictions.
“I am not a denominational man. I do not criticize the denominations however take into consideration this: we now have all types of denominations — Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, you title it, and each certainly one of them has a special doctrine,” he defined. “They can not all be proper. And so, consequently, I do not declare a denomination. I declare to be a Christian. And as a Christian, I comply with the New Testomony teachings on the Apostle Paul.”
And Jernigan’s nondenominational strategy to ministry aligns with the course of the American Church right now. Information from the 2020 U.S. Faith Census present that within the final 10 years, the variety of American Christian adherents in nondenominational church buildings almost doubled in quantity and surpassed America’s largest Protestant denomination, Southern Baptist, by a number of million adherents.
Different latest research additionally present that whereas America stays a extremely non secular nation, with seven in 10 claiming affiliation with some type of organized faith, for the primary time in almost 80 years, fewer than half now say they’ve formal membership in a particular home of worship. Church attendance has additionally continued to say no within the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.
Whereas he admits that being a Christian right now is far more durable than it was 50 years in the past when fewer distractions have been competing for folks’s consideration, Jernigan believes that the mannequin of many church ministries right now is partly accountable for folks deserting the pews.
“I will be sincere with you, one of many greatest issues that pastors have right now is attempting to construct a church on their very own,” Jernigan instructed CP.
“At present, preachers have gotten themselves into such a rut by constructing huge buildings with stained glass home windows and all the things. And the folks have abandoned them as a result of they get bored with being bled to dying [financially]. And listen to the preacher say, ‘you bought to present, you bought to present, you bought to present.’ My conviction is you do not have to hound Christians to present. If they’re saved, they love the Lord, they may give,” he stated.
Jernigan additionally criticized preachers who deal with their ministry as a enterprise.
“I feel it is the unsuitable strategy. Business? You do not commercialize God. I consider this can be a gross mistake, that individuals, you see a lot of this right now, attempting to commercialize and put issues right into a peaceable sort of factor quite than educating the Bible,” he stated. “I do consider if preachers would come down off the excessive horse, and give up preaching, what I name cotton sweet messages, that is all fluff and no substance, I consider there’d be an incredible distinction on the planet right now.”
And because the church continues to compete for the eye of society right now, Jernigan is anxious that present social traits would possibly lead to a degree in society the place Jesus is “fully rejected.”
“At present, there may be far more to tug an individual away than there was in my day,” he stated. “It’s far more tough. And it does seem to me that as time approaches, that issues are going full circle to the extent that Christ … goes to be fully rejected.”
He urged Christians who left institutional church buildings however nonetheless wish to preserve their Christian religion to maintain studying the Bible and praying to God for course.
“My coronary heart goes out to so many individuals, it actually does,” he stated. “There are lots of people on the market which might be hungry, and so they’re thirsting for the Phrase of God, however they do not have anybody to present it to them.”
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