During my flight home from Detroit today, I read God, Grits, and More by Dr. R.A. Williams, Jr., who pastors the McCoy Memorial Baptist Church in Los Angeles. He is also the president of the WHW Conference on Bible exposition. I was a boy preacher when I first heard him. I had gone to hear Pastor Melvin Wade speak at a local church. The two were doing the meeting together. But I had never heard of Dr. Williams. And I knew I would not make it back to the meeting. So I bought a tape of Dr. Williams. It was some time later before I actually listened to the tape. But when I did, my mind was blown and heart was stirred. I cannot describe the immediate impact his preaching had on me. And over the years, Dr. Williams has greatly influenced my commitment to Bible exposition, even from afar. And on the rare times I have had the opportunity to be in his company, his kindness has been a great encouragement to this young preacher.
In recent years, I have consistently prayed that Dr. Williams would put something into print. The annual conference on Bible exposition that he leads has been a blessing to me, as it has for many others across the country. But I have been concerned that more African-American Bible “scholars” (and how many of those would you say there are around?) and “expositors” (again, how many true expositors are there around?) publish their work. I hope that this doesn’t sound racist (it is definitely not intended to be). But my life and ministry have been edified by the written works of many “white” pastors and teachers. And as a young preacher, it is grieves me that so few of the men from my culture have published their Bible exposition or their theory of exposition. I can think of many men who have much to contribute. And the model provided by the faithful men among us is desperately needed, with so many bad examples occupying such prominent pulpits. Grits is indeed an answer to my prayers. Sort of.
I have prayed that Dr. Williams would write. But I expected that he would write something on preaching. Or that he would write something from the various sequential expositions he has done over the years. This work is definitely not that. It is a more autobiographical piece that addresses the formative experiences and influential people in Dr. Williams’ life. The stories are certainly encouraging. And it’s refreshing to read this pulpit personality share so openly about the matters of his heart. Boyhood challenges, severe poverty, and the passing of loved-ones have directly shaped Dr. Williams into the person he is today. Yet, Dr. Williams writes with confidence that the invisible hand of divine providence has been at work in all of these things to nurture his faith and guide his ministry. Admittedly, this is not what I expected to be reading from Dr. R.A. Williams. But it’s a start. And I praise God for it. And I would encourage you to purchase this book. Read it. Share it with others. And pray that the Lord would continue to lay on Dr. Williams’ heart a desire to set his thoughts, insights, and experiences into print for the benefit of next generation.