Sunday, September 29, 2013

Honoring Mac Hammond

All believers should honor their “fathers in the faith”, ministers God used to help them grow spiritually. One who started impacting my life just before I committed my life to the Lord is Mac Hammond, pastor of Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. Today happens to be his 70th birthday.

Originally from the Deep South, James McBryde “Mac” Hammond served in the Air Force during which he flew 198 combat missions. After his discharge, he ran a successful airfreight business. A business acquisition brought Mac and his wife Lynne to the Minneapolis area where they ultimately founded Living Word Christian Center in 1980.

I first heard Pastor Mac in February 1991. My then-girlfriend had started attending Living Word and invited me to go with her one Sunday morning. Mac was in the midst of a teaching series about end-time prophecy in response to the Gulf War that began a month earlier. He also encouraged first-time visitors to come back a couple of more times “to take a more accurate measure of us as a church.”

The next two times I went to Living Word, I still resisted the altar call for salvation. I actually got offended near the end of my third visit when Pastor Mac instructed the congregation to turn to each other and say, “Jesus is my Lord.” (I now use a similar technique when witnessing to someone who claims to be a Christian.) As we were leaving the church, I told my girlfriend I did not want to go back there again. Still, I knew in my heart that I needed to get my spiritual life in order. I did so a few days later when my sister and her husband led me to the Lord.  

Soon I attended membership classes at Living Word and decided to make it my home church. Every weekend I looked forward to hearing Mac Hammond minister. I admired his speaking abilities and knowledge of the Bible. Mac frequently reminded us from the pulpit that we come to church to hear from God and not be entertained by man. Listening to Pastor Mac’s sermons helped me overcome a lot of erroneous beliefs I picked up over the years. Although he is often criticized by the media for preaching a so-called “prosperity gospel,” Mac often says, “God wants you to be a winner in every area of life.”

Because Living Word is a large church, Mac Hammond delegates many pastoral duties to staff members. Therefore, I never got to know him on a personal level. Still, the Lord used Pastor Mac to speak into my life many times. One night in February 1992 before dismissing the service, Mac announced he had a word of knowledge saying, “Someone here is involved in a multi-level marketing need to get out of it and find a regular job.” This was a confirmation to a dream I had the day before. For the next four years I worked at a variety of places before God called me into the ministry.

Eventually, the Lord led me to leave Living Word and travel as a full-time missionary. One Sunday morning in 2002, I was staying with a friend in Lakeland, Florida, and decided to walk over to a nearby church. When I arrived at Family Worship Center, the first service was still in progress. Immediately, I recognized the voice of the minister speaking. Mac Hammond happened to be the guest speaker that day! It was a pleasant surprise to see and hear my former pastor again. When I came back for the evening service, I got to briefly talk with Pastor Mac.

Since returning to the Twin Cities for what has become an extended stay, I’ve frequently visited Living Word Christian Center and resumed evangelizing with them. Although the Lord has led me to become more involved with another local church, I will always be grateful for Pastor Mac. His obedience to the call of God changed my life as well as many others. 

I pray that Mac Hammond’s 70th birthday is a glorious one!

“Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.” - 1 Timothy 5:17

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