Pastor Terry Rainwater is shown here speaking to fans at a Lagrange Championship Wrestling event. (Photo/Lagrange Championship Wrestling)
By J. Gerald Harris
HOGANSVILLE – Terry Rainwater will never be judged as the one talent man in Matthew 25:14-30. He is a multi-talented man who wears many hats. He is a husband, father, grandfather, preacher, pastor of Highland Baptist Church in Hogansville, Chaplain of the Hogansville Police Department, serving with God’s Bread Basket, photographer and has served as the official Chaplain of Lagrange Championship Wrestling.
Terry was born in 1958, the ninth child of Hugh Dorsey Rainwater and Dollie Duncan Rainwater. Apparently, he made such a favorable impression on his parents they decided to have a tenth baby to get their offspring into double-digits.
The affable Highland Baptist pastor stated, “Pastoral ministry precedes me inasmuch as my grandfather, John B. Gordan Rainwater was ordained into the Gospel ministry in 1916. He served Prays Mill Baptist Church in Douglasville, Mount Vernon in Fairburn, Campbellton in Chattahoochee Hills and several others. My father was also an ordained Baptist minister and preached in revivals and did supply preaching for churches looking for men of God who would fill their pulpit for a Sunday or more.”
Rainwater and his bride, the former Rudine “Cookie” Bedingfield were married in 1976. They met while they were students in Vacation Bible School at Campbellton Baptist Church; and they have five children and nine grandchildren. This delightful couple could be the best advertisement for VBS ever. Terry has been serving as Highland’s pastor since 2011.
The Highland pastor testified, “Like many before me, I wrestled with the call to ministry. I tried ignoring it. I tried denying it. I tried running from it, but I am forever grateful that my Heavenly Father continued to lead me into the preaching ministry.
“I preached my first sermon at a cottage prayer meeting in 1977. I served as bi-vocational youth director and as an associate pastor in two churches prior to becoming a full-time pastor in 1983. My pastorates have been in Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Illinois. I am a Bachelor of Theology graduate of the Baptist College of Florida, located in Graceville, FL.
In addition to serving as pastor of the Highland Baptist family, Rainwater considers himself privileged to be able to serve in other areas of ministry. He serves as chaplain of the Hogansville Police Department. He explains, “This ministry role has given me the opportunity to be involved in the lives of members of this department as well as citizens of the community.
“Another ministry that has captured my heart is God’s Bread Basket. This is a ministry designed to provide food assistance to the many food-insecure families and individuals throughout the Hogansville, Georgia zip-code. God’s Bread Basket is not sponsored by one church, but by several churches of various denominations from our area. We serve on average approximately 225 families each month and disperse between 8 to 10 thousand pounds of food each month. We also coordinate with our local elementary school to provide food on a weekly basis for children that are at risk of having little to no food over the weekend.
“My greatest joy,” Rainwater added, “in serving as pastor is seeing how God would take someone like me, save my soul and use me to touch people’s lives with the Gospel of salvation and through discipleship. I want to be found faithfully serving in whatever corner of God’s pasture He places me.”
Many Georgia Baptist pastors have unique and divinely appointed opportunities to serve. The key to taking advantage of those opportunities is a sensitivity to God’s voice and a willingness to be available.
Rainwater explained how he got involved in becoming a chaplain for the sport of professional wrestling. “Several years ago, ‘he recalled, “we were having electrical work done on our home. While in conversation with the electrician, he mentioned how he was a professional wrestler and promoter. That piqued my interest, so I asked about his next event. He invited me to be his guest.
“I went and was pleasantly surprised to hear a southern Gospel quartet singing at intermission! While sitting front and center ringside, an idea came to me. After the show, as he and I were talking, I asked if he would ever consider having a chaplain attached to his events. He agreed that the idea was a great one and appointed me official Chaplain of the Lagrange Championship Wrestling.”
As wrestling chaplain Rainwater would enter the ring, give the opening welcome, lead a public prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States. Occasionally, he would be given the assignment of announcing each match.
Rainwater explained, “As Chaplain I had access to the wrestlers before, during, and after the show to engage them in conversation, as well as share the Gospel with many of them. I handed out New Testaments and gospel tracts to the wrestlers and attendees. Unfortunately, my friend, the promoter, passed away and my opportunity to continue to serve as chaplain ended.”
Many pastors do not have meaningful hobbies, but if you are a busy servant of the Lord you need some kind of activity that leaves you feeling calm, refreshed and invigorated. Select a hobby that is creative, nature related, social, physical, reflective or involves travel.
Rainwater exclaimed, “I have always heard every pastor needs a hobby. So, I tried golf. I soon learned, that for me, golf was not relaxing, but frustrating, irritating, aggravating – everything but relaxing.” He apparently discovered that for some, getting a small, dimpled ball in an obscure hole with totally inadequate instruments militates against all that is soothing and serene.
The Highland pastor continued, “Finally, I found what brought me joy -photography. One of the things I have always wanted to do was produce a calendar using my own photos. This dream finally came to fruition. For the past several years I have been able to publish inspirational calendars for our church members, immediate family and friends. I try to keep a camera nearby so when the right moment happens, I am ready to aim and shoot.”
The ministry opportunities of a pastor can take on many components. Those pastors, who by both precept and example, lead their congregations to stop looking in the mirror and begin looking out the window to see the needs of a hurting society and inspire them to meet those needs are generally effective in touching their entire community with grace. Terry Rainwater does that well.