January 14, 2024
Dr. Paul Cannings
I was told that I become nostalgic every five years. VERY TRUE! Starting a church was VERY intimidating, and it seems like every five years I’m reminded of those early days when Living Word was planted in my heart.
Even though I had served many pastors in Houston and across the country in my roles at the College of Biblical Studies and at the Urban Alternative under Dr. Tony Evans, pastoring a flock was still a battle. I had the best job coming out of seminary as a manager of Urban Alternative offices in three different cities. Our boys, Paul and Pierre, were eight and six years old. My accent was thick, (my wife’s was even thicker!) and of all the places in the world, I am originally from Guyana where Jim Jones led over eight hundred to their deaths – (as a matter of fact, a person once said to me, “I’m not drinking no Kool-Aid,” LOLOL!!). On top of that, I felt led to plant the church in the heart of the urban community even with my accent that sounded like I came from anywhere but the community. All this spelled failure.
Paradoxically, I felt an overwhelming need to start Living Word, so I reached out to two people, George Burrell and William Roque, and then two others joined us at KHCB studios. Because of what kept pouring out of me for vision, strategy, leadership, and discipleship training, I soon realized that this was the Lord’s agenda, therefore the church must be built on His Word. I remember sensing an enormous desire to name the church Living Word Fellowship Church. From this point forward, all the way to a Bible study where people just kept showing up, (Mary Wheatley, Pat Crawford, Lyndia Tarkington to name a few) I realized that this was the Lord’s place. To reflect back, once twenty years passed, each five years brings me back to a place of amazement at what the Lord has done; and the fact that He would use a person from Guyana to lead His kingdom agenda is mind-boggling. I feel like the Apostle Paul who would say; “I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought
to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing.” (2 Corinthians 12:11-12; NIV; 1 Corinthians 15:8)
Over the last thirty years, we’ve seen people healed from major diseases, marriages restored, and the community blessed through our Christian Outreach Center. We’ve seen people come to Christ through our evangelism ministry. Our school has reached so many children, and our missions ministry now stretches around the world! It is a constant reminder of what God does when His vision spreads to the hearts of many. Just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
Living Word, keep the faith (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:6-8). The vision has never made sense to everyone, but God has always made it become clear to all those who choose to believe (1 Timothy 4:11-16).
I am honored to serve my Lord and to be your pastor these thirty years!