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If our goal was to be slick, we failed – miserably.

The sound was off. We got into the building late. The band had no time to practice. There was no sound check. My mike was on a different system. We started late. There were squeaks and squawks all night.

The fire alarm went off in the middle of the sermon. A first for me. We had to evacuate the building – in the middle of the sermon! After a few minutes, the all-clear was given and we came back in. I threw the sermon away and spoke from my heart.

We were not slick. It would have been nice – and we worked toward that, but it did not happen. And – it’s ok. It was not the goal.

The goal was to worship God and to introduce the vision of the Orchard.

That happened!

His praises were sung. His Word was read. His testimonies were declared. His presence was sought in prayer. His vision was shared.

We laughed. Some shed tears. Some repented (they told me later).

We wondered what in the world was going on when the fire alarm when off.

We talked with each other.

Dozens volunteered to serve. Dozens served.

The place was full (375 adults and 30+ children!) – with little outside advertising.

The spirit was great.

The Lord gave us gorgeous weather – no rain, no tornadoes.

The next preview service – with a BIG SURPRISE – JUNE 13th.

A few pics:



  1. WOW! Obviously the enemy was trying to stop what the LORD had planned. I rejoice in your faithfulness to continue under fire. It is this sort of thing that proves who you are in your commitment to the call Jesus has on your life. He will bless your efforts as proven by your report. Thanks for being my friend, pastor, mentor and encourager. Praying for you and Ruthe always.

  2. Words cannot express how very happy I am for you. This has been a long time coming…and as we both know, sometimes our Lord works on His timeline and not on ours. I saw the signs early on, but no one would listen…maybe that’s my error for speaking too soon. I am so excited and I know that our loving Father is going to bless you and this church family in a way that we cannot even begin to fathom. I love you and Ruthe, and have missed you terribly. Please know that you have always remained in my prayers each morning. My theme song for the past 2 years has been Casting Crown’s “Praise You in This Storm”. The storm has almost ended for me, and to know that you are still following the Lord and not “man”, makes me so joyful. Again, I know without a doubt, that our Lord is with you and I cannot wait to see the wonderful things that will be taking place with you and your church family. With much love to you and Ruthe.

  3. In three words…IT WAS AWESOME!!!!!

  4. I used to love it when you spoke from your heart…truly, they were never your words, were they?

  5. It was an unforgettable first night…God was praised and His people responded, and that makes it a wonderful success in my book “slick” or not!

  6. The warfare was fierce!

    Yes,it is to be expected and a sign that something BIG is going on in HIGH places. Not our battle-HIS!
    Not our ways; But HIS ways! When the warfare,distractions are huge, we can know the task at hand is GOD sized, and we are only capable of achieving any goals that God initiates IF we stay connected to HIM…
    Goes to show how the enemy is not happy that “God’s man” stands in the security of GOD’s hand, and the enemy will not prevail, nothing will pluck him (Sam) out of Gods’ hand while He remains in control.
    Saturating this night with prayers and daily for God’s desires to be made manifest for “The Orchard Fellowsip”, to our Heavenly Father that HIS will be done, what He began in Memphis a few years ago-will go forth, through one mans honest, humble surrender to the servant hood of Christ.
    Sam and Ruthie live as examples of the hard privilege of suffering for a great cause. A kingdom’s work, not of this world…not self-serving if not for God’s sake. I ask, who would want to come back to Memphis after all they have been through… LOrd have mercy! It must be God Almighty to place such a burden on one mans heart. I stand amazed at such strength in standing in the approval of Gods’vision and not fearing the world…
    WHo said SERVING Christ is a “piece of Cake”. Experiencing GOd through seflessness takes knowing, and trusting in the only one who matters. It takes courage, scarfice, discipline, and dedicated time in His word and constant prayer. Yes!, grace is free through Christ, but service to His Lordship is surrendering our ALL to him…
    A relationship not a religion.
    OUr relationship to Him, reveals who we are in HIM! Sam Shaw and his wife Ruthie, and their family, are not afraid to demonstrate what it takes to be Antioch christains.
    Giving up everything, to gain many souls for Gods good pleasure and His purposes-not ours!!!.

    Reading, over and over the book of Ezra this past two weeks, clarifies that God is up to something good for Memphis, in getting back to the basics and doing HIs work, one day at a time, not getting ahead of HIm, not falling behind, and diligently seeking His kingdom first and restoring righteous living.
    We must humble ourselves and seek God face, not detouring to one side or the other.
    You go forth, brother Sam!, “GOd’s man’, Ruthie, “GOd’s woman”, stand strong!, be courageous!, no fear!, and we will rejoice and be glad, with much thanksgiving to GOd that HE is not through or even began to show us who love Him what he is about to do in Memphis town…….
    Memphis- The best place to live on earth, where Gods people show HIs love unconditionally-we have much work to do,in HIS perfect timing!
    Love is an action verb!
    We’ve got your back and stand with you for HIs purposes. I make myself available for anything you might need in service to you, let me know.
    God’s speed, and His holy angels around us all. Come Holy Spirit we invite you to fill us fully with your power, that you may use us for your GLory, that all may see your unfailing Love.The God of second chances!
    Thank you sooo much Sam and Ruthie for obeying and returning….My heart is brusting with JOY!!! AMEN
    Be like clay in HIS hand today. Bless someones life today and GOd will bless yours…
    Forgive the wordiness, I am so fulll!! God BLess

  7. One final note: The enemy will always, ALWAYS attack when he is in fear that the LORD is at work, and he tries in every way possible to defeat what God is doing in our lives. The fact that you all stood firm and strong is a testament to the great things God is and will be doing in your lives and the ministry of The Orchard. Thank you, Jesus, for men and women like Sam and Ruthe Shaw. James 1:12.

  8. Everyone else has already responded so well. But, from one who is on the outside with only this blog as a window, I must say…

    Nice suit!

    Love you, brother.

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