Last Sunday, August 29, 2010, was the hardest day of my life. Even when my father made me promise that I would preach his funeral (which I did—twice: once in Indiana where he lived, and again in Florida where I live and where he is buried), that was not as difficult and gut wrenching as what I had to do last Sunday.
Last Sunday, I retired as the pastor of the church that my wife and I founded 35 years ago: the Crossroad Baptist Church of Pensacola, Florida.
Think of it: all of my adult life (after college) has been spent pastoring this wonderful congregation. And the people that I spoke to this past Sunday evening are, without a doubt, the finest group of people I have ever known. They are my friends. Many of them I had led to Christ, or were saved under my preaching. Some have stood with me for twenty years; some for over thirty years.
My vocabulary is too limited to express the love and appreciation I have for these wonderful people! They stood by me through thick and thin. Even when God opened the door for me to run for President of the United States on the Constitution Party ticket, they stood by me. They stood by me when enemies attacked me; they stood by me when friends forsook me.
And last Sunday evening, I had to tell them that, after 35 years as their shepherd, God had led me to leave them.
I can tell you, tears flowed like rivers; and I believe my family and I cried more than anyone.
When I was 18 years old, I told the Lord that I would do anything He wanted me to do; I would be anything He wanted me to be; and I would go anywhere He wanted me to go. And I mean that today as much as I did then. Therefore, the only thing that could move me from the pulpit of Crossroad Church was a clear and definite call and leading from God. 35 years ago, that call led my wife and me to Pensacola, Florida. Today that call has led us to the Flathead Valley of Montana, some 2,500 miles away.
Therefore, within the next few weeks, my entire family will be moving to the Kalispell area of the great State of Montana. By my family, I mean my wife and I, my daughter and her husband and their 3 children, my oldest son and his wife and their 3 boys, my youngest son and his wife and their one child, and my wife's mother and her husband. That's 5 families and 17 people.
Yes, my grown children and their spouses have felt the same calling. We are not only a family; we are a team. And we are headed to Montana.
God has led us to the conviction that Montana (along with other Mountain states) is going to be the tip of the spear in the freedom fight; and we believe God wants us to be part of that fight. We plan to start a new ministry where I can preach and my family can sing and minister (you should hear them sing!).
Once we get established and can raise the funds, I definitely plan to livestream my messages on the Internet as we have been doing at Crossroad for the past year and a half. And if God opens the door, I will not rule out a run for State office. Yes, the freedom message is both spiritual and political; and I am afraid of neither!
For years, people have been asking me, "Chuck, what can we do?" Well, this is what God has led my family and me to do. We are convinced that the only way freedom has a chance to survive in these States united is to recapture the spirit of liberty—one State at a time. (To continue to focus on Washington, D.C., is a waste of time and energy!) And God has led us to the conclusion that Montana (and nearby states) is the place where freedom-minded patriots have a fighting chance to prevail.
Instead of telling you what to do, my family and I are showing you what we believe we should do.
Is this move going to be easy? Are you kidding? We all know what the housing market is like. We are experiencing the effects of this depressed economy just like everyone else. Like everyone else, we all have homes to sell or rent, and my two sons and son-in-law have businesses to either sell or relocate.
Without a doubt, this will be the hardest move of our entire lives. We are leaving dear friends behind; my children and their children are leaving their hometown and school chums; we are trading a warm weather climate for a cold one; and we are leaving the church that we have loved and served for over three decades. In many ways, we feel like modern-day Pilgrims, looking for a land of liberty.
Over the past two years, I have traveled more than 60,000 miles from coast to coast and border to border. I have met and talked with Americans from sea to shining sea. I have seen the states where real freedom is virtually nonexistent. And I have seen the states where the love of liberty still burns bright. And I (and my family) believe that there are more freedom-minded people (per capita and per square mile) in Montana than, perhaps, in any other State in the union.
So, after much prayer (and I mean much!), we believe God is calling us to partner with those freedom-minded souls in The Treasure State.
Back in the 1880s, Montana experienced a gold rush. I believe that in the 2010s, Montana is going to experience a FREEDOM RUSH. And for us, the rush is on!
So, this Sunday, September 5, 2010, I will preach my last two messages at Crossroad Baptist Church. Already, my dear friend and ardent patriot, Wallace Nichols, of Birmingham, Alabama, has accepted the call to be Crossroad's new pastor. And I know that this dear congregation is under very capable leadership. In fact, I fully expect the church to grow substantially under his ministry.
And when that happens, no one will rejoice more than my family and I.
Yes, I will continue to write this column; but while we are in the process of moving (maybe 6 weeks or more), they will not be written quite as often. I will attempt (with the help of a small but dedicated staff) to produce at least one column a week (instead of two). Yes, my web site, ChuckBaldwinLive.com will be maintained. And, yes, people will still be able to support us via the website during this transition.
My website is here.
To donate via online contributions, go here.
Yes, last Sunday was the hardest day of my life, but there will be many hard and difficult days ahead for the Baldwin family. Each of us is aware of that. We are not naïve. We know we are headed for a fight; we know it won't be easy.
But we also know that freedom is worth fighting for, and if Washington, D.C., is freedom's greatest threat (and it is), then defiant, liberty-loving states are freedom's greatest allies.
I've been preaching that for several years now. I guess it's time that I started practicing it.
Therefore, Montana, here we come!