In writing about VIP’s I’ve considered those who had some kind of influence or impact on my life…or who were just very interesting people to me. When I think of those who have had a profound spiritual influence on me there’s not many I would think of before Ronnie Chadwick.
In 1984 my life made an abrupt turn…..in a good way. I had a lot of things that needed to be fixed in my life but, generally speaking, I was headed in the right direction. I didn’t take a chance on going to church until sometime in 1985. When I did, I went to the First Baptist Church in little Allison, Texas, my hometown. We were a ranch family and none of us went to church at all. My dad would give the preacher in town a half a beef once or twice a year and as far as I was concerned we were ‘good’ with the Lord! So, the only contact I had with any preacher was when I’d deliver the beef to Ronnie Chadwick’s house.
I remember vividly the first time I went to the FBC in Allison….but that’s another story I’ll tell at another time. My life was changing in a positive way; I was trusting in the Lord although I knew nothing about it…..I was just in a desperate place and, blindly, I put my trust in Him. Julie and I decided that we needed to start going to church. So, the Baptist Church seemed to be the logical choice. Although I didn’t know it at the time, It turned out to be the sovereign will of the Father.
Ronnie Chadwick was the pastor there. He took me ‘under his wing’ so to speak, and the things I learned from him have turned out to be some of the most valuable things for me today. He taught me to have a love for the Word of God. I remember many times I’d ask him a question and his reply would be, “Well, let’s see what the Word says.” I still do that today. He taught me the importance of prayer and my life has been forever changed by what he taught me. I saw him not back down from the pressure of people trying to intimidate him, and I’ve had to do that many times in the last 26 years. He taught me to hear the Lord for myself, and I’ve done that and taught hundreds of others to do it as well.
I remember well the day I felt the Lord calling me into the ministry. I drove the 10 miles from the ranch to his house in town to tell him. I’ll never, ever forget the conversation as long as I live. I told him, “Preacher (which is what I’ve always called him, even to this day), I think the Lord’s calling me to preach.” His reply in his big deep, booming voice, “Andy, just forget it”. It took me by surprise; I asked, “What do you mean, forget it?!” He said, “Cause if you can forget it, it ain’t the Lord!” Great advice….and I couldn’t forget it!
He launched me into the ministry and coached me every step of the way, early on. He’s the only Pastor I’ve ever really had….and he was a dang good ‘un! Ronnie Chadwick is definitely a VIP!