Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Our Heritage

For several years, I have wanted to learn my lineage.  All I knew was that one side of the family is from McDowell County and the other side is from Roane County.  I had no idea how far back or how deep my West Virginia roots go.  I was also more than a little curious as to what kind of people my ancestors were.  So, a few months ago, I set out to discover my family tree—and what I found was fascinating. 
My son thought the coolest thing was discovering that his mother’s great-great grandfather was a real Texas cowboy who died in a gunfight outside the town’s general store.  How can my side of the family compare to that?  It’s not nearly as cool sounding to a 17 year old boy to find out he comes from a line of preachers and military men—but it is pretty cool sounding to me.  Four out of the last five Drake generations have been preachers. Drakes have served in the War on Terrorism and the Gulf War, during the Vietnam Era, World Wars I and II, the Civil War and the Revolutionary War.  There is certainly a measure of pride in that, but the most fascinating thing I discovered was how my line of Drakes came to the New World in the first place.
Sometime in the early 1800’s, my fourth great grandfather moved from the Tazewell area in Virginia to what is now Roane County, WV.  Two generations before him, the family hailed from Piscataway, NJ.  Piscataway was where my 9th great grandfather, Captain Francis Drake (nephew of Sir Francis Drake), emigrated from England in 1650.  His father, Robert, was a Quaker and was persecuted in England for his faith.  But when Francis became a Baptist, he was not only persecuted by England, he was shunned by his Quaker family.  He came to the New World seeking the freedom to practice his Baptist faith.  Subsequently, his son, Reverend John Drake (my 8th great grandfather), planted the first Baptist church in New Jersey in 1689.  The church is still in existence today, having changed its name from First Baptist Church Piscataway to Stelton Baptist Church in 1875.
What a joy to discover that not only military service and preaching runs in my blood, but also church planting.  In reality, I should not have been surprised.  Because when we claim the name of Christ, we are adopted into a family of church planters.  In affirming Peter’s testimony in Matthew 16:16 that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God, in Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus told him that He is the Rock on which His church would be built.  The very gates of Hell will not be able to defend against the advance of Christ’s kingdom through the multiplication of His local churches.  Paul understood that as he planted churches throughout the book of Acts.  Reverend John Drake understood that as he planted the first Baptist church in New Jersey.  Our forefathers understood that as they planted the churches in which we currently worship and serve.  And we understand that as we partner together to plant new churches throughout West Virginia.  We have to—it runs in our blood!


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