Joe Carruthers has been the Pastor of Manor Baptist Church since March of 2004. He and his wife, Regena, are both originally from Tennessee, where they were married in 1975. They have two adult daughters.
In 1985, I was a student at Bible college in Lynchburg, Virginia, about to graduate with a degree in Pastoral Ministries. Gena and I were members of Timberlake Baptist Church (Pastor Jim Alley), and were working in the Awana Club and active in several other ministries there. That Spring, Evangelist Walter Burrell came and preached a four-day evangelistic series. On Sunday evening, he preached a message about Judas Iscariot...in Walter's words, "the man who kissed the Door but missed Heaven." For some time, I had been under conviction that I was not saved, even though I claimed to have been born again through reading a Gospel tract in high school. Brother Burrell's message that night hit me square between the eyes, and left me convinced that I needed Christ.
As a Bible college student, I knew well the plan of salvation, and had often shared it with others. I knew that all men were sinners, including myself. I knew that while we were still sinners, God had sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to save us. I knew that Jesus had died on the cross of Calvary to pay my sin debt, and that He had shed His blood for the remission of my sins. I knew of His burial in a borrowed tomb, and of His glorious resurrection on that first Easter so that sinners like me could one day enjoy the same resurrection from the dead to Glory. I knew all this, and had known it for many years.
But I had never actually acknowledged that I was lost in my sins and totally without merit before a holy God. My fleshly pride had never really given up on the idea that I somehow deserved to go to Heaven. What I actually deserved was Hell. And unless I humbled myself before the Lord and put my trust entirely in Him, that's exactly where I was heading! Brother Burrell's powerful preaching drove all of that home to me in a way that still gives me the shivers as I recall the Holy Spirit's convicting power.
For two long days, I agonized over the need to swallow my pride and admit that my life was a charade. I was a pastoral major about to head for seminary. I was a youth worker, active in my church. I had everyone around me convinced I was saved. But the truth was that it was all a lie! Finally on Tuesday evening, April 16, 1985, I went forward at the conclusion of the service, and Pastor Alley took me to his office and went over the plan of salvation with me. There that night, on my knees at my pastor's side, I asked Jesus to save me. And from that day forward, I've never again had reason to doubt. That night, my conviction became conversion, and I left Brother Alley's office a Christian, sealed by the Spirit of God!
Pastor Carruthers holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Pastoral Ministries from Liberty Baptist College (now Liberty University) in Lynchburg, Virginia, and a Master of Arts degree in Bible from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. He was ordained to the Gospel ministry in 1994 by Hampton Park Baptist Church, also in Greenville.