10 Years ago this past month my wife and I moved to a small town of relative obscurity in the middle of nowhere Texas. A town of roughly 3000 people. Smaller than my high school. Roughly 6% the size of my college. There is one grocery store; anywhere from 4-8 “restaurants” depending on how ambitious the local spirit of entrepreneurship is that year; a sonic, red-top, and a subway (definitely not restaurants); and good people who need the radical message of Jesus.
When we first arrived, we had no idea the love that we would develop for this small town. We fast grew to love the people and pace of life in our small town. Three years after moving here we had our first child, we’ve had 3 more since. We started a Bible study in our home that has fostered what are the strongest relationships I have ever had and has served to heal many souls, rescue the downtrodden, and pull several people back from the brink of abandoning their relationships in local churches. The Lord saw fit to give us very effective ministry for almost 9 years at one church (a feat few pastors could ever boast, especially youth pastors) and then He saw fit to allow us the privilege of starting a new work that is reaching people who would never have been engaged by our previous efforts and methods. We love our town… even though there are certainly people in it that we don’t care to be around as there are in every small town, we still love it here. So after ten years of ministry in Brazoria, I’d like to share 3 things I love about this place.
- The Pace of Life
My first several years here, a good man who has become a great friend continuously reminded me to “slow down.” It struck me as odd that I was being told to slow down. I always felt as though I was a calm and rather measured person who did not necessarily struggle with anxiety or restlessness. Living in obscurity and with the odd intimacy with your neighbors that accompanies such a small town has a way of revealing your struggles. You can’t hide here. In this small town I have come to see and deal with some of my own struggles. The pace of life here is slower than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. People still sit on their porch here and still wave at the neighbors driving by. I know a particular man who will sit in his garage with the door open when it rains. When the rain lets up a bit, he’ll sweep the leaves off his driveway and return to his seat to watch the rain again. Seriously… life here is slower.
- Everyone knows your name
It was my first month here and I walked into the local grocery store. (There is only one.) Naturally anxious to get to know everyone, I put my hand out to the cashier and told her,
“Hi, I’m John. I’m the new Youth Pastor at the Baptist Church.”
She responded, “Honey, we all know who you are.”
“Do you go to First Baptist?”
“No.” she replied, laughing awkwardly, “Everybody knows who you are.”
In our town, everyone knows something about everybody and when they know something they act on it. The kindness of neighbors in our little community is tremendous! When an elderly lady down the road was not able to buy food, her neighbors quietly began to bring her meals. No pomp and circumstance, just meals quietly left at her door. When the troubled youth in the trailer park were acting up, a man from a nicer house down the street began to have them over to his house so he could encourage them. When the family down the road lost their home in the recent flood, their neighbors brought them clothing, food, and furniture. It is a small town with a big heart. Don’t get me wrong, you can hide in Brazoria… just not for long. Eventually someone will see you. And when they do, they’ll probably return the miss-delivered mail they received for your address and, if you’re lucky, they’ll bring you some brownies.
- It is quiet.
As per point 1, I have discovered that I deal with anxiety. Crowds make me nervous. Though I am really very comfortable on a stage, in a crowded room where I am not teaching… I am slightly uncomfortable. That is why, in Brazoria, I have room to breathe. I can sit outside and enjoy life. There are no sirens. No bustling of people. No city noises that drive away the birds. I can hear the song of the birds, the chirp of the crickets, the sounds of nature, and I can measure and manage the trouble in my heart. The quiet atmosphere of Brazoria lets me breathe. It calls me to sit still and think. It draws me to rest and in that rest I am able to see my Lord. I can sit and partake of His character, for He is good and we hear best when we are quiet. It allows me to be reminded of the Greatness of my God and the whispers of his voice in so much of what surrounds me. It is a tremendous quiet for the soul. It is soothing peace.
So, here’s to the crazy retired veteran who walks up and down the street arguing with people who are not there. Here’s to that random longhorn bull that lives in its own city block. Here’s to everything closing down for high school football and elementary school parades down the highway. Here’s to arguments over waterparks and beer joints. Here’s to Brazoria!
If you’re from Brazoria, what do you love about it? Leave a comment.