By Michael Reisig
By the description of its pastor, Tim Harper, “Faith Missionary Baptist Church in Mena is, “a small country church that loves The Lord and continues to grow together.” Reverend Harper is relatively new to the church and he his looking forward to growing with the assembly and doing good things for our area and for his faith.
Harper was born in Tampa, Fla., in 1968. The reverend admits that life was not easy for him growing up, and homelife was less than perfect. At 15, he moved to Benson, Ark, to live with his father, because he was “headed in the wrong direction” where he was. He planned to stay for a month and ended up staying for 30 years. Today he is not only a reverend, but the head football coach for Mena High School.
“From some of the choices I made in my lifetime God has blessed me and made me what I am,” Harper said. “At 15 I got started in organized sports and that helped turn me around. I played football, baseball, did track, and my life began to change. My grades improved, I started to like school, and I learned how to respect authority. I ended up graduating with an academic scholarship from the University of Central Arkansas as well,” Harper smiled. “For a kid who hated school, I ended up loving it, and that’s why I’m coaching and teaching today. But I feel that all the good things that happened with me after moving in with my dad, happened through my relationship with Jesus Christ – and the leadership of my father.”
Harper said he was actually the first person in his entire family to graduate from high school.
“I believe everything that’s happened to me is a matter of learning how to do things the right way,” Harper added. “After graduating from college, my first teaching job was in Mineral Springs, where I met and married my wife, Amanda. I taught there one year and then we moved to Sheridan, where I got involved with youth ministry. I found I liked that, but I felt there was more I should be doing. From the age of 19 I felt God was calling me to preach, but I didn’t feel like I was preaching material. So I stayed as a youth minister for five years before finally surrendering to the calling of preaching. Three months later, I was pastoring my own church.”
Since then Harper has pastored three Baptist churches in Arkansas before settling here in Mena at Faith Baptist. He has also become the head football coach at Mena High School, and he feels that it’s all part of God’s plan.
We are a small to medium-sized church that is growing, and we all realize that no one is perfect – each of us has to strive each day to be more like Christ,” he explained. “We have a youth group – Youth On Mission – to show others their love of Christ, and we support individual missionaries in Thailand and other areas of the world. Our goal is to increase our ministries and to be an ‘ACTS 1, verse 8’ church, being witnesses for Christ here in Mena and around the world.”
Harper added that the church has a core group of faithful families that attend religiously – a very welcoming and loving group.
“I feel it’s their desire to see this church grow, not just numerically but spiritually,” he added. “We have a good Sunday school department and our youth group is growing stronger all the time. We have a good blend of traditional worship while in the process of bringing in more contemporary music. We have three services — Sunday school at 9:45 a.m., worship at 10:45 a.m., and a Sunday evening Christian growth group at 7 p.m., and on Wednesdays we have youth and adult Bible study classes at 7 p.m.
“We’d like to invite anyone in the Polk County area who is looking for a place to fit in, to come by and try us – just visit with us for a service. I know they’ll like what they find.”