It has been a remarkable year on Shoemaker Ridge. You can find several articles about Shoemaker Ridge in our NHIM archives in the “Eastern Kentucky” category. Over 30 people have been saved since we opened Ridge Chapel on Easter Sunday. Many have been saved from the grip of alcohol, drugs, and sexual sin. The change Christ has made in these lives is truly miraculous. Old things are passing away and all things are becoming new.
Pastor David Spencer and I planned to take these new believers Christmas caroling the evening of December 20th. For many of these folks, singing about Christ’s birth would be a new experience. It would be new and different for several of them just to be sober or not high on ‘meth’ or pills.
When I left our home in Wilmore for the hour and a half journey to Shoemaker Ridge, the weather was turning foul. My 22-year-old grandson, Nathan, came from Louisville to drive Miss Sue and me to the hills. In his younger years, Nathan had traveled with me around the USA and halfway around the world to assist in ministry. It was a very special Christmas present to have him with me again.
The weather continued to deteriorate as we traveled. By the time we reached the Ridge, the wind was gusting at 45 to 50 miles per hour, a driving rain set in, and sleet and snow were on the way. There were 16 hardy souls that braved the elements and came to the church. It was obvious that we could not go down the Ridge caroling. Pastor David led us in some Christmas songs and a sharing time in the church. Miss Sue sang beautifully, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”. Our hearts were stirred. For most of the folks there, this would be their first Christmas as a believer. They had made room in their hearts for Bethlehem’s babe.
Miss Sue and I had packaged lightbulbs in Christmas ribbons and attached a note that said, “ The Light of the World is Jesus. From your friends at Ridge Chapel.” These small gifts were to be distributed as we went house to house. The fact that weather prevented us from caroling did not dampen our spirits. As the service ended, each person took several packages and promised to take them to their neighbors on the ridge. This actually proved to be a better way. They would have time to stop and share.
One of the men in attendance had been saved and delivered from the bondage of alcohol and drugs. He invited his brother and sister-in-law to go caroling with us. This couple was lost and addicted to drugs and alcohol. Their lives were a mess. They sat in the back of the church listening to testimonies and the message of Christmas. As we were leaving to travel back to Wilmore, I noticed the couple was still standing in the parking lot talking to David.
I was about half way down the Mountain Parkway when my cell phone rang. I could hear the joy in David’s voice. The couple had asked the Lord into their hearts. For that couple, Bethlehem’s angel spoke once more “ I bring you good tidings of great joy…for unto you is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” I think the heavenly host sang that night over Shoemaker Ridge, “ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward Men.”
I praise God that the Christmas Story is as real today as it was 2,000 yrs. ago!