Get to Jesus

Will You Do All You Can To Seek And Save The Lost?

George Wright
Aug 30, 2020    42m
By exploring the story of Jesus healing a paralyzed man found in the Book of Luke chapter 5, we may feel compelled to examine ask ourselves, will I do all I can to seek and save the lost? Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 Those of you who have had any interaction with our children's ministry over the last year or so know that Mike is our children's pastor here at Shandon, and just does a phenomenal job of pointing kids and pointing families to the love and grace of God. And throughout their entire story and their experience over this last year, they have just continued to point to the faithfulness of God, and what a beautiful picture it is to be reminded of the body of Christ rallying together in a time of need. Certainly, we've been all walking through such a strange year and there have been different moments along the way. Where if we are alone, or if we are isolated, it becomes unbearable. But when you are connected to the body of Christ, and when you see the way the people of God rise up in the midst of difficulties and challenges, you'll recognize that the family of God is the place to be. And what a privilege it is to be able to gather together today, both in this room, but also online. We're so thankful for all who are joining us this morning.

George Wright: 01:09 Before I step into our text for today, we're going to be in Luke 5. So you may want to go ahead and turn there, I'll get there in just a moment. But I want to give you two very important updates as just some things that'll be happening in the next couple of here in the life of Shandon. The first update is something that we have actually been praying towards for several months now in the midst of all of the uncertainty that's been swirling specifically around schools, and what are kids going to do this fall? And how can we be involved as a church in ministering the kids, especially kids in need, kids who are underprivileged, and under resourced, recognizing that many schools would be virtual-only this fall. And the Lord has opened the door for our church to partner together with a local elementary school in our community, Jackson Creek Elementary School, it's in the Richland two school district. And we are going to become an E learning center here at Shandon for elementary school aged kids who many are at risk, many are underprivileged. They're going to be come to Shandon two days week starting the week of September 8th, a week from now. Tuesdays and Thursdays they'll be able to come and do online on school here at Shandon, in a safe place, in a quiet place, with volunteers to serve and to love on them. We'll get the chance to feed them lunch, and we'll get the chance to share the good news of Jesus with these kids, and so we are so grateful. Yeah, it's an amazing, amazing opportunity, an amazing opportunity. We recognize and believe as the people of God, that every obstacle actually provides an opportunity for God to do something thing that we never would have expected.

George Wright: 02:59 I can assure you at the beginning of this year, we never would have expected that we might become an e-learning center. What is that? Nobody even knew what that was. An e-learning center for virtual school, for some elementary school kids that have a need. And we would love for you to plug into this, if you want to help serve, we welcome you to come serve in this e-learning center. You don't have to have an education background. You can just be someone who loves to be around kids, or someone who's willing to serve lunch, or someone who's willing to be here to help monitor a few classrooms. We need your help, and would love for you to plug in. You can text the word serve to the number on the screen. You can go to and see more details around what this is going to be about, but we are very grateful for the opportunity that God has provided.

George Wright: 03:49 The second thing I want you to know of before I step into the sermon here this morning is on September the 13th, two weeks from today, Shandon's kids' ministry is coming back. And we are so excited for the opportunity to do a modified version of our kids' ministry. So families that may be joining us online, mark your calendar for the 13th, we will have kid's ministry at the 9 o'clock hour only, beginning September the 13th. And so we'd love for you to join us in that, we'd love for you to be praying for our kids' ministry as they seek to ramp back up. This is the next phase of our regathering plan, we wanted to provide a way for families to have a place for their kids to be cared for where their kids can plug into the good news of the gospel in a kid centric way. And so that happens beginning September the 13th. And again, we would love for you to step into serving. If you recognize that this is an opportunity for you to get back involved in serving, whether it be in kid's ministry or e-learning, whatever the case may be. Again, all the information is online, we've got information set up in the lobby today for those who are here with us, we'd love for you to stop and check that out. We need your help for such a time as this, as things are still very challenging, as it relates to our regathering, we'd love for you to be involved in what God is providing for us as a church. So please come and serve if you are able.

George Wright: 05:24 Now, let me draw your attention to Luke chapter 5. As we step back into a passage of scripture where we've been spending time for the last a few weeks, we've been looking at these beautiful encounters that individuals have with Jesus, where the moment the encounter takes place, their story dramatically changes. And here's the point, this whole series, as we share some personal stories from families in the church, and we look at Luke chapter 5 and walk through these verses together. We believe that when you have an encounter with Jesus, your story changes. We believe that when you come to Christ in a personal relationship with Christ, no matter what you've been walking through, no matter what's in your background, no matter what the backstory may be, the story of your life begins to change because of the power of God's love and grace on display through Jesus Christ. And we see that here today.

George Wright: 06:29 Luke chapter 5, beginning in verse 17. I'd like to invite you if you're willing and able to stand with me as we consider the Word of God together, even if you're joining us online and in your home, in your living room or your den, wherever you may be., Go ahead and stand with us, so that we all can be reminded that the Word of God is the foundation of the people of God. We stand upon the authority of God's word, what God reveals to us is right and good and true. This is the word of the Lord, Luke 5:17. It says, "On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”.

George Wright: 08:05 Would you pray with me as we consider God's word together, let's invite the Lord to speak into our lives. Let's pray now, Father, as we come before you, as we stand before you at the reading of your word, we recognize that there is something sacred, something divine, something supernatural that happens when the people of God turn our attention to your word. And so Lord, we pray that in the power of your spirit, you would change our lives through what you say. We pray that there would be a very real encounter with the living God today, as we turn our attention to your word, speak into our lives, we to hear from you. So Lord, it is my prayer for everyone in this room, and everyone joining online, and everyone listening to the podcast, that this time in your word would be time that changes our heart. Use this for your glory, this is our prayer as we look to you. It's in Christ' name I pray. Amen. You may be seated, thank you for standing.

George Wright: 09:33 I want to put a picture up on the screen of a famous entertaining group, a duo of magicians, this is Penn and Teller.. You may have heard of Penn and Teller, they have done a lot of different things on TV, they've had a long running show out in Las Vegas. They're somewhat controversial in some of the stands that they take, these men are not followers of Jesus by any means. In fact, they're on the opposite end of the spectrum and where their beliefs stand. In fact, Penn Gillette, the taller of the two, and this duo is an outspoken atheist. Several years ago, I was sent a video that Penn Gillette posted on social media, and this video was just him talking about an encounter he had with a man who attended one of their shows after the show. This man came up to visit with Penn Gillette and this man was a Christian. And when he came to visit with Penn Gillette, knowing that Penn was an outspoken atheist, he just said, hey, I want you to know. I appreciate the show, I appreciate all that you did, and I've brought you a gift. And the man handed him a Bible, and he said, I wrote a personal note on the inside cover of this Bible, and thought you might want to spend some time reading it, but just wanted you to know I'm grateful for what you do and I'm praying for you.

George Wright: 11:06 So Penn Gillette gets on social media, and one might expect that he would go on a tirade. How dare this man for coming up to me an atheist, and giving me a Bible. But instead he took a very different tone. And I want to quote to you from something that he says in this video about this encounter with a man who gives him a Bible, listen to what he said. He said, "I don't respect people who don't proselytize, I don't respect that at all. He said, if you believe there is a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever. And you think it's not really worth telling them this because it would make a social awkward situation. How much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize?", he said. How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible, and not tell them that? He said, I know there's no God and one polite person living his life right doesn't change that. I still think religion does a lot of bad stuff, but man, that was a good man who gave me that book. That's all I wanted to say. How much do you have to hate someone to believe that there is a heaven and a hell, and not tell people about it? Spoken by an atheist. How much do you have to hate someone to believe that eternal life is possible, and not tell people about it? Spoken by an atheist. A man does a simple act of kindness by showing that he cares, giving a Bible to someone that he's never met. It doesn't change that man's heart or life in the moment, we have no idea. I have no idea if it's changed his heart or life to this point. But I do know it made an impact, it got his attention, and his conclusion is that was a good man to be willing to do something like that.

George Wright: 13:39 Here's the question I hope we wrestle with today in Luke chapter 5, are we willing to do whatever it takes to point to the good news of Jesus? Are we willing to do whatever it takes to get the message of the gospel to people who need to hear it? This is what takes place in Luke chapter 5, this is a story of four men who are passionate about getting their friend to Jesus. They believe that Jesus has what their friend needs, and they are going to do whatever it takes to get their friend in front of Jesus. And certainly we can see in the scripture, this is no simple task, right? I mean, we just read it. The man is paralyzed, that means there for his friends to even get him close to Jesus is going to take some serious effort, they've got to carry his mat. And when they get the house where Jesus is teaching, the house is crowded, there's no way to get in. They can't get in front of Jesus, but that does not deter them, they carry their friend up onto the roof and begin to do their own demolition project on this house that they don't own, by the way. I mean, what was this like? Our family loves the show Fixer upper. One of the things that you see in fixer upper that's so exciting is demo day, when the old house gets torn to shreds so that something new can be built. Now, imagine if someone came into your house and started demo day without your invitation. And that's what's taking place here, they tear a hole in the roof, large enough to lower a paralyzed man on a mat through the hole. This is not just a little tiny hole in the roof, this is a major reconstruction project. You know, the scripture revealed some interesting things about this story, but it also leaves out some details. I just wonder every time I read this, what was happening in the house? Can you imagine the murmuring, and then the shock? Was Jesus continuing to teach all the wild dirt and fragments of the roof are falling through the ceiling onto the crowd, or did Jesus just stop? Isn't it interesting, Luke makes it clear, Jesus never told them to stop doing what they were doing. It's as if Jesus knew that the crowd in the house needed to be disturbed, it's as if Jesus knew that the crowd in the house needed to be shaken, this is a divine disruption.

George Wright: 16:56 It's very sobering, if you really press into the scripture and look at what's laid out here in Luke 5, there is a barrier that is preventing this man in need of Jesus from getting close to Jesus. Do you know what the barrier is? This is very sobering as the church gathers, do you know what the barrier is in the way of this man getting close to Jesus? Look back at Luke 5:17, what does it say? Luke is very clear in what he writes, "On one of those days as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there." The house is crowded with religious leaders and religious people. "They'd come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem." And then Luke says, "And the power of the Lord was with him to heal." This is a sobering verse. The house is packed with religious people, not religious people who were there because they were desperate in their minds for their need to be close to Jesus. No, they were there as investigative reporters. They were there trying to understand what is Jesus really all about, because right now he's messing with my ministry, he's infringing on my territory. The crowd is following Jesus instead of following the religious leaders, and we don't like it. So let's go listen to what he has to say, and let's pick it apart, and let's do anything we can to try and discredit this man. They're not going to see Jesus because they feel like they have a need to see Jesus personally, they are there as self-proclaimed experts on the things of God and they are concerned about Jesus and what he is teaching, and they are especially concerned about the way he is in interacting with those who are lost. They are threatened by the teaching of Jesus.

George Wright: 19:13 But as the scripture continues verses 18 and 19, notice what happens. It says, "Behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in." Does that hit you? "Finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus." Certainly, if someone shows up wherever Jesus is, and it is very clear this person needs Jesus, this person needs to get in front of the savior. Certainly, all the religious people would move out of the way and say, please come in, take the seat right up front. We don't want to get in the way, we don't want to be a barrier to the gospel advancing. We don't want to be the very obstacle that prevents the grace of God from flowing through Jesus, to someone in need, we don't want that. But no, the religious leaders, the religious crowd, they say we got here first, these are our seats. We like these seats, we're not going to move. No, we have an agenda that is very, very important. And I realize other people have needs too, but they're not as important as our needs in this moment, so we're going to stay right where we are and you can just find another way.

George Wright: 21:13 Could that be said of us? Could that be said of you? Could that be said of me? I know the mission matters. Yes, I know we want the lost to be found, I know we want the gift of salvation to be experienced by those who are far from God, but I really don't want it to inconvenience me. I really kind of liked the way things were going, I don't want to have to change anything so that the lost can be found. Is that the posture of our heart? It really is sobering to see what the scripture reveals about the religious crowd in this scene. A man has a very real need to get close to Jesus, and no one moves a muscle. What does the Lord want us to see when we look at this passage? Every time I read this passage in Luke 5, it is incredibly convicting. I feel like for me personally, it forces the question into my heart and mind, do I honestly want people to see Jesus? Am I honestly willing to do whatever it takes so that people who are far from God can come close to Jesus and prayerfully experience life in Christ? Are there people in my community right now, in my neighborhood right now, who are lost and in need of Jesus? Yes, there are. Am I doing whatever it takes to show them, or am I a barrier to them coming near to Jesus because of my agenda, or my schedule, or my comfort, or whatever the case may be? This is a sobering passage of scripture for the church to consider. Do we honestly care about those who are lost seeing Jesus?

George Wright: 23:34 As I was preparing for this message I was thinking, what is it in my life, what is it in the life of someone in the church that would prevent us from doing whatever it takes to get people in front of Jesus who need to hear the good news about the savior? And so I came up with three very simple questions. You may just want to take note of this. How do these questions hit you?

George Wright: 23:58 The first question is simply this. Do we lack, love? What we see in Luke 5, is four men who care so much about their buddy, who loved their buddy so much, that they are willing to do whatever it takes to get their friend in front of Jesus. If we've got to carry him on a mat, we'll carry him on the mat. If the house is too crowded and we can't get him, we'll find another way. If we got to carry him up on the roof, we'll carry him up there. If we got to tear a hole in the roof on demo day, even though we weren't asked to do that, we're going to do it. If we've got to lower him down, we're going to lower him down and disrupt the whole meeting, we've got to get our friend in front of Jesus. Do we really love people who are far from God like that? Or do we look at people who are far from God as the enemy? Do we look at people who are far from God and say, you know what, I don't like anything about them? Do we lack love?

George Wright: 25:19 You know, Jesus looked at the lost, a very famous story, also in Luke with a man named Zacchaeus one of the most notorious sinners in his community. When Jesus spends time with this sinner and shows love to this sinner, and at the end of the story in Luke 19 verse 10, Jesus makes this very important statement. Look, we put this up on the screen, "The son of man came to seek and to save the loss." That's the heart of Jesus. The heart of Jesus breaks for those who are lost. The heart of Jesus breaks for those who are far from God. Jesus loves the lost, and came to seek and to save those who are lost. Do we lack love, or do we recognize that those who are far from God are actually to be the object of this mission that God has called us to, that we would demonstrate the love of God to those who have yet to believe?

George Wright: 26:23 The second question is simply this, do we lack the conviction that Jesus can truly save someone who is lost? Now, I don't think any Christian here today or joining us online would say, no, no, no, Jesus can't save someone who is lost. But we often live in such a way, and interact with those who are far from God, as if Jesus can't truly save them. No, their story is too dirty. No, the things they've done are too grotesque. No, the way they've lived, it's so far from what lines up with what we know is right and good and true, they're a lost cause, they are too far from God. They are beyond hope, they've been lost for so many years. they're not going to change now, there's nothing that can save them. That's how we often live, we wouldn't say it that boldly, but we often look at the lost as if they are a lost cause all together. Maybe we have forgotten that an encounter with Jesus, and the message of the gospel, can truly change a person's life altogether.

George Wright: 27:33 The apostle Paul did not want us to forget this. And so the apostle Paul writes in First Timothy chapter 1 verse 15 and 16, "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." And this is what Paul says, "Of whom I am the foremost. But I personally..." Paul writes, "...received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost of sinners, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life." What is Paul saying? Paul is saying I was a lost cause, there was no hope for me. You would look in my life and go that man persecutes the church, he's hopeless. Stay away from him, don't go near him, nothing can save him. And Paul says, I was the perfect candidate for the gift of salvation. Because to be the perfect candidate for the gift of salvation, you have to be lost, and I was lost. And as the chief of sinners, God saved me to show his mercy and his patience towards those who are far from God, to those who are rebelling against God, to those who are wallowing in their sin, to those who are living a life in the darkness. Paul says, God saved me to show anyone who would believe in Jesus, that you can be saved, that is the good news of the gospel. Do we truly believe that Jesus can save someone who is lost?

George Wright: 29:18 Third and final question I was wrestling with in preparation for this, is simply the question, do we lack faith? Do we lack faith as it relates to sharing the gospel? Are we afraid of what people might say? Are we afraid of risking our reputation? Are we afraid of doing whatever it takes to get someone in front of Jesus? Are we afraid that we're not going to know what to say? Are we afraid that perhaps we're going to mess this whole thing up? Do we lack faith to step out and say, I want you to know what I know about what Jesus Christ has done. The men in this story in Luke 5, they clearly do not lack faith. These four friends of the paralytic are not afraid to risk. They are willing to risk their reputation to do something that that many people would say is just foolish, it's just crazy. You're going to carry your friend over there, you're going to carry him on the roof? You're going to tear a hole in the roof, you're going to lower your friend down? Are you serious? We're going to do whatever it takes to get our friend in front of Jesus, because we in faith believe that Jesus can change his story.

George Wright: 30:38 And so we step back into the scripture, as we see Jesus respond to the faith of these men, Luke chapter 5, verse 21 through 26 to the end of the story. It says, "The scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” How dare you Jesus, tell this man his sins are forgiven? Oh, and by the way, he is still paralyzed, so I'm not sure what you are trying to accomplish right now. "When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.” Oh, how I love this story? The power of God is on display as Jesus forgives the sin of this man, and creates all kinds of controversy in a room full of religious people because the religious people are right only God can forgive sin. They got that right, they understood it. And Jesus is declaring in front of them all, that he is God by saying to this man, your sins are forgiven. They don't like it. They don't like what they've heard, only God can forgive.

George Wright: 32:36 So Jesus says, let me show you who really am, let me show you what I can truly do. And then you will understand that causing a paralytic to walk, is really nothing compared to forgiving a sinner of their sin. Jesus is showing that he is God alone. And when a sinner, saved by grace, receives the gift of salvation and the forgiveness of sins, heaven rejoices as the power of God is on display. Jesus Christ has the authority and the power to forgive sins and change a story. Do we believe it?

George Wright: 33:36 And so I'll close just by asking a very simple question of us all. And the question is this, where are you in this story, where are you in Luke 5:17-26? Maybe this morning or today, as you listen to this online or are sitting here in the room, you realize, you know what? I'm really more like the paralyzed man on the mat than anyone else in the story, you're here today, needing a miracle. You need to have an encounter with the power of God that is available through Jesus Christ. You need to experience what Christ alone can provide. The same Jesus who forgave this man, and healed this man, is pursuing you with his love. He wants you to know his love. He wants you to understand the gift of forgiveness. He wants you to rest in his grace and mercy. Will you receive the gift of his salvation?

George Wright: 34:46 Maybe you're here today, listening to this, reading this, saying, you know, I don't want to say it out loud, but if I'm most honest, I'm really more like the Pharisees in this story. This would be very hard to admit, most Pharisees don't want to acknowledge that they are Pharisees, but the Pharisees are clearly uncomfortable around the lost. They do not want to be inconvenienced by the lost, the Pharisees are actually a barrier to the mission and to the agenda of Jesus because they have their own mission and they have their own agenda. That is all about what they want, instead of being passionate about why Jesus came. And so I'll just say this, if someone is wrestling with the Lord, in an honest way enough to say, you know what? I am a Pharisee, the only hope for the Pharisees, please hear this, is the only hope for those who are lost. And that is to repent of sin and turn to Jesus, that's the only hope. And so if you're here today going, you know what? I may actually be an obstacle to the mission, I may actually care about more what I want, then the lost being found. God is inviting you to repent, repent of that sin and turn to Jesus and join him with what matters most. Your story can change.

George Wright: 36:25 Finally, maybe today you are here more like the friends of this paralyzed man, and you do believe that Jesus is our only hope, and you do believe that that Jesus alone is the gift of salvation that the world desperately needs to hear, and you are willing to do whatever it takes to get people in front of Jesus. You want the gospel to advance through your life, you want to see the lost found, you are excited about the power of God. If that's you, I just want to challenge you this week with a very specific prayer focus. And I want to get you to write something down, for those of you who have a pen. I know there's not as many pens in the room because we don't want to share pens, that's contamination. So if you don't have a pen, just make a mental note or take a picture of something with your phone. But here's the challenge I want to lay before you, if you say, yeah, I want to be one who does whatever it takes to get people in front of Jesus. Think about one person, one person in your life right now that you know needs a relationship with Jesus, and just write out this statement and pray over it. That God would give you an opportunity this week. This week I will blank, I will do this. Maybe it's pray every day by name for the individual, maybe it's call them and invite them to coffee, maybe it's write them a letter of a prayer that I've been praying for them. Whatever it is, this week I will blank, ask God to show you what this is. This is what I will do to get blank, whoever the person is, in front of Jesus. This week I will do whatever it takes, I will blank, to get them in front of Jesus. And just commit that to the Lord, because remember it is God who saves. And if we are faithful, and if we are obedient, and if we live the mission, God gives us opportunities to be involved in sharing this good news, as we then get to witness what he does when he opens the eyes of one who recognizes their need for the savior. So this week, will you accept that challenge to pray over someone and say, I will, whatever the Lord lays on my heart, to get them in front of Jesus. For stories change when people get in front of Jesus.

George Wright: 39:08 Let me pray for us as we close our time together. Father God, this message is so beautiful in your word, and yet it is so challenging and so convicting. And Lord, I recognize that those who are followers of Jesus today, engaging with Luke chapter 5 verses 17 through 26, do not want to be barriers to the mission. Those who are followers of Jesus, do not want to be an obstacle in the way of someone coming to get in front of Jesus. And yet, Lord, we need to be reminded, we need to be reminded through the power of your spirit, that sometimes it takes getting very uncomfortable for us to focus on what matters most. Maybe that's what you're showing us right now, sometimes things in our life need to change so that we can focus on what matters most in the mission. Sometimes we have to lay something aside, so that we can invite someone else in. Lord, please show us what you want us to see, and use our lives, and use your church, to get people in front of Jesus. Oh Lord, give us the faith that says, we believe that Jesus can truly change a story, we believe that Jesus truly does love the loss, and we believe that you will use us if we will trust you.

George Wright: 40:57 Lord, I pray for anyone who may be joining us today, who has never experienced the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. I pray that today would be the day that they would recognize their need for the savior, they would recognize their need for forgiveness of their sin. And they would see that as a gift, as an invitation to step into a new story, a story of grace and mercy and love, the story of Jesus who came to seek and save the lost. Oh Lord, I pray that there would be some today who would turn to Jesus and say, I'm ready to follow you.

George Wright: 41:43 Lord, use us for your glory. Let our story be lived for your glory. Lord, please, please, we pray, give us opportunities with open eyes to point people to the good news of what Jesus Christ has done. Oh, we thank you for the gift of salvation, it sets us free. We love you. It's in Jesus' name I pray. Amen

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206