On Sunday morning, January 13, Pastor Vic Wallace preached his last sermon as pastor of Oak Hill Baptist Church in Fall Branch, Tennessee. Beginning in the mid-1950’s, Pastor Wallace began a ministry lasting over six decades of pastoral ministry including Flag Pond, Mosheim, Mountain City, Kingsport, and Fall Branch. One of the longest pastorates was at First Baptist Fall Branch, Tennessee where I met him. His time at Frist Baptist which spanned 1975-1999 & 2003, 25 years in total a rarity today. Pastor Vic lead me to Christ at the age of 12 years old when he presented the gospel clearly to all the children at VBS in the summer of 1993. After he explained it, I asked to speak with him. There in his office, he took me down the Romans Road, and I prayed to receive Christ. He also baptized my mother, father, and sister. Later when I was called to the ministry, he became my father in the ministry (see 1 Timothy 1:1). God used him to help me pick a seminary. I wanted to share the following as things I learned from watching him pastor and serving alongside him:
1. Love your family.
Loved not only by his church family, but Pastor Vic is also loved by his wife, son, and grandchildren. He showed the ability to balance his responsibilities at home with his duties to the local body. I think he always knew that if he failed at home, he would fail his office as pastor.
2. Never compromise on the Word of God.
Pastor Vic served through the time our denomination experienced what has been now termed the “Conservative Resurgence.” The “resurgence” boiled down to a battle over biblical inerrancy. From the pulpit, he openly preached the Bible as the Word of God, not simply that the bible contained the word of God! He loved to quote leaders of the resurgence like W. A. Criswell. What a great example to us all.
3. Love your church family.
While no pastor can be everywhere at once, Pastor Vic made efforts to be there for church members who were experiencing milestones in their lives: births, marriages, sickness, deaths, etc.… He showed the importance of loving people in all seasons of their lives. He had a way to make you feel like you were the most important person to him.
4. Love your community & be a soul winner.
He embodied lifestyle evangelism. I remember once, a man he had never met appeared to be having a hard time. He asked him if anyone had ever told him that Jesus loved him. The man replied, “No.” And he said, “On behalf of the pastors and churches in Kingsport, I want to apologize to you for that and tell you that Jesus Loves you!”
5. Never forget the importance of pastoral ministry.
Vic always held the office of pastor in high esteem, but it was his wife that gave me the analogy which sticks with me today. When I announced my call to ministry, Dot said to me, “Travis, this is a calling and a job that is more important than the presidency of the United States of America.” The Bible tells us that pastors are a gift to the local church, and Pastor Wallace along with his lovely wife, genuinely have been that for all the churches they have served.