By Pastor Aston R. Chambers Jr.
Special to Frost Illustrated
I was born in Fort Wayne on Oct. 27, 1956 to the late Aston Sr. and Clara B. Chambers. Being raised on Lewis Street with three older sisters was great and so was the neighborhood then. In the ’70s, we slept outside on the porch in the heat of the summer—something you can’t do now because Satan is at his best. I can’t remember too many bad times in those years. Yes, we fought in the morning and at noon we were at Brackenridge playing ball. My family and I went to Union Baptist Church under the leadership of Dr. Clyde Adams. Back in those days, when you went to church, you were raised by the church. I never thought one kid could have so many mothers, but you did in the church.
We could not escape church. No matter how late you stayed up at Link’s on Saturday night, when Sunday came, you got up and went to church or you had to face the wrath of Clara. Now we live in a day and age when parents ask their children IF they want to go to church. Church was a big part in our lives and still is. Our grandfather, William Burnett, was a deacon at Friendship Baptist Church so every day was Bible class.
I can remember when the Lord first called me in 1975 and, like so many, I became like Jonah, and ran from the call of God. After graduating from Northside High School in 1976, I ran straight to the Army, where I became a pretty good cook, just like my father. But no matter where I went across this world, there was no place like home.
After spending 15 years in the Army, living in places like Alaska and Colorado Springs where I first began God’s ministry in 1986 at Friendship Baptist Church where I was both licensed and ordained, under Dr. E. Ray Johnson and after attending El-Paso County Baptist Seminary for one year in Colorado Springs, I was about to enter into my second year of school, when I received the news that my mother (Clara Burnett Chambers) was gravely ill. The Army transferred me to a Recruiting Center here in Fort Wayne. I thanked God that they did because I didn’t want the Army to find me AWOL at my mother’s bedside.
My mother went home to be with the Lord, on my 31st birthday, and from that time, my life went from great, to an all time low. I was Mommy’s boy I began to trust in drugs, instead of God. Yes, I still went to worship, but didn’t feel a thing. All this time my wife of 21 years, Rita, stood by my side. One day she sat me down, and told me in such a profound way, when you totally sell out to God, He will bless you. After three years of being clean, God sent me to Muncie to pastor and prepare me for what He had for me to do when He sent me back home. I didn’t want to come back to “the Fort”—my heart was in going to Alabama. But God said, “No!”
As the members in Muncie often said, “You are here, but your heart is in Fort Wayne.”
Yes, that was true, because there’s no place like home. I still came home to work for Ellis Funeral Home, where I’ve worked for the past 28 years. I thank God for what I’ve learned in Muncie, Being blessed to serve a mostly senior congregation was enlightening and they keep me humble. And, I also had a chance to go back to school and take some online classes at Andersonville Theology Seminary to work on my degree.
I can remember like it was yesterday the words of the late Dr. Jesse White always quoting to me 2 Peter 5:6:
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”
I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future. “Trust in the Lord, with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding; but in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your path.” I sat up under four senior pastors—three here at home Dr. Clyde Adams, pastor emeritus of Union Baptist, the late Dr. Jesse White and the late Dr. Samuel Walker whose wisdom and guidance I truly miss.
So as the Lord has directed my wife and me back home, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will begin to organize The Lord’s Vineyard Restoration Center in collaboration with the Eagles Nest Youth Center. Where our motto will be, “Restoring the Community of God, as God would have it to be; One Family at a time.”
The vision of our ministry will be founded upon the words of God through His son. First according to the KJV Matthew 28: 19-20 and Matthew 25:31-46. We want to become a Ministry of Servitude to the city of Fort Wayne and the Southeast area. Our first organizational meeting has been scheduled for 10:30 a.m., March 16, 2014 with Worship Service following. Our first regular worship service is scheduled for 10:30 a.m., March 23 at the Eagles Nest Youth Center 6011 Hessen Castle.
See you there!