EAST ROCKINGHAM — Pastor Joe Wilkes stood in front a standing room only crowd of 170 in the Abundant Life fellowship hall and fought back tears as he told the story of how he led Clyde Norton to Jesus Christ in his hospital room.
Saturday night was an important milestone for the ministry minded 300-member East Rockingham church. The church launched their television ministry almost a year ago. Now they are adding a prayer center that will go live Sunday. The center was dedicated to Clyde Norton, who died of lung cancer on June 30, 2012.
The center is for people to call in with prayer requests, or if they simply need someone to talk to or pray with.
“(It’s) never about Preacher Joe, it’s about Him,” said Wilkes on the ultimate focus of the Church’s mission.
The center has three telephones.
“Humbled men have worked hard to get this done,” Wilkes said of the people who worked on the center project.
Each caller will receive a Holy Bible, DVD, and letter from Wilkes. If the lines are busy or the center is closed, the person can leave their name and number and someone will call them back as soon as possible.
“(I’m) hoping this will get big,” Wilkes said of the center. “(We’re) trying to build the kingdom.”
The sacrifice to build and staff the center is well worth it, said Scott Sims, Abundant Life’s finance chairman.
“This isn’t something that is going to make us money, it’s going to cost us money,” Sims said.
Rocky Norton, son of Clyde Norton, feels that “Anything Pastor Joe does brings great things.”
The center’s phone number is 910-817-2620.
Sandra Butler, Abundant Life Choir Director, was raised within a church. After her marriage ended in 2005, she left church for six years. One day she turned on the television, and Wilkes was on.
“The Lord worked thru him that day,” Butler said.
After that, “every time I turned on the television, there he was,” she said.
It would be two months before Butler visited Abundant Life.
The television program has been live for nearly a year now. It airs at 9 a.m. on Channel 15 on Tuesday, at 9 p.m. on Thursday at 3 p.m. on Sunday each week. The program is one week behind live services.
“We’re hoping to get $3,000 a month in donations and eventually be on the Inspiration Network,” said Wilkes as to the television ministry’s long term goals of sustaining the call center and outreach efforts.