We called it “Church In A Box”. This tongue-in-cheek expression used to describe our bare-bones, portable sound system was the perfect description for the faithful few who shamelessly gathered in the cramped conference room of an old Ramada Inn on the outside of town. We had no grand edifice, no imposing insignia, and no fanfare to entice the masses. We had no organizational affiliation and no significant financial investments, but we had a common love for Jesus that inspired us to passionately search for more. That old, musty, hotel conference room was filled with visible cracks and audible creaks. Plenty, it lacked, and plenty, it leaked. It was all we had, but it was all we needed. Our collective hearts were enough to share the simplest of services, and our collective funds were just enough to afford us the simplest of systems.
Every Sunday and Wednesday, we boxed and unboxed the 3-channel mixer, single-corded microphone, and two speakers that were used to conduct service and gathered in unity and a sincere worship of Jesus Christ. Thankfully, we didn’t pack God’s ability into any sized “box”, whether that box seated 20,000 or 20. If we did, God’s Promise Restoration Center may not exist to this day. Neither lofty expectations or disconcerting beginnings deterred a determined people, and despite all of our recent hardships, we knew God was greater. We knew He was bigger than each of our circumstances. We knew He was more than where we’d been, and somehow, we knew God had more where we were going.
God blessed us with wonderful spiritual leaders to help grow that faith together. Apostle Ronald and Pastor Janda Shepherd received a word of the Lord from Bishop Anthony D. Hutt of Victory International Covenant Churches concerning their call to pastor, and they humbly accepted. In their humility, they felt undeserving of such a great responsibility, but God had smiled upon them. Their undeniable love for family, unconditional love for Christ, and consistency through their diverse past experiences had more than equipped them for spiritual leadership. Their past testimony and future direction initiated a ministry founded on “unity with” rather than “separation from”, on giving instead of greed, on reaching, not regret, and on promise instead of persecution. Our eventual connection with Apostle Fred Harris and Pastor Kathleen Harris of New Risen Christ Ministries in Detroit, MI fostered our growth in forgiveness of our past and solidified our foundation in compassion and empathy to others just like us. Today, we continue to be thankful for every sacrifice made and seed sown, and our ministry has grown fruitfully as a result.
The way it all began is indicative of the way it shall continue: in the humility of us all from the leaders to the little children. GPRC has since moved to 916 N. Longview St. in Kilgore, Texas to accommodate the growth in attendance and is led by overseers, Apostle Ronald and Pastor Janda Shepherd as well as Prophet Jeremiah and Pastor Brittney Shepherd. God tells us in His word, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matthew 7:7-8). He also says, (Zechariah 4:10) “Do not despise small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” With the Lord’s grace and guidance, we have maintained the meekness that has made His ministry effective in us. As we go, and as we grow, we will keep our position at the feet of God, our father and our focus on our Lord and Savior, Yeshua Hamashiach, Jesus the Christ. Though God’s Promise is never ending, we’ll never forget our humble beginnings.
Prophet Jeremiah Shepherd