Mar 2, 2010

Walls not required for church

by Crystal A. Heavner

Ralph West realized God’s call more than 35 years ago.

“I didn’t know if it was to preach, but I did sense something that was pressing heavy upon me, spiritually and subconsciously, to make a decision to do something with my life,” West said.

When West was 15, he thought that the only option for people following God’s calling was a pastorship. Many years later he realized the many ministry opportunities God leads people into. Then and even now, however, West knew that preaching “was exactly what God called (him) to do.”

He encouraged Liberty students during convocation Monday, Feb. 22.

West told students that God could give them both spiritual and physical rest when they need a break.

“(The message was) really applicable and encouraging… We neglect the fact (that Jesus’) burden is easy,” Liberty graduate student Amber LaBar said.

West enjoyed the opportunity to address Liberty students.
“I love preaching, teaching and training leaders,” he said. “(The college age group) is going to change the world.”

West is the founding pastor of Brook Hollow Baptist Church, known as The Church Without Walls. The church is located in Houston, Texas and has grown to 21,625 members from 32 members when it was founded Nov. 6, 1987.

The church members share the belief that the gospel can go wherever they go. They proclaim the good news to a wide audience by using newspapers, pamphlets, television, CDs, DVDs, iPods and Facebook.

“I think that’s what the world really needs. People drive by the church and see the building, but they need to see the people,” LaBar said.

West draws most of his influence in life from his mother and in ministry from his pastor, O. C. Johnson.

“(My mother) demonstrated for her children that God has put inside of you something that is indomitable, it is progressive, it is growing, it is not easily conquered,” he said.

“(Johnson was) a tremendous preacher… you would sense that he was a man who walked with God,” West said.

He taught West by example to prepare and pray well for sermons and carefully prioritize his ministry.

For more information on Ralph West or his ministry, visit churchwithoutwalls.org.

Contact Crystal Heavner at
cheavner@liberty.edu.


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