It was more than five years ago when Rick Gettins, pastor of the now-established Lawton, Mind of Christ, felt the Lord leading him to plant a church in inner-city Lawton. Gettins, who is from Lawton, never imagined he would still live there.
“I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home, but seeing my parents, who were in the ministry, help people who are less fortunate and struggling with addiction, was tough,” he said. “I did not want to have anything to do with that when I was grown.”
God had other plans for Gettins, whose Mind of Christ Church focuses its ministry on some the toughest areas of Lawton.
“When Pastor Rick hears about a hard place, whether its infested with drugs or prostitution or poverty, it is to that place he will go,” said member Jo Ellen Lenhart-Hoffman. “The people in ‘the hood’ are the ones who need Jesus the most.”
Gettins and his wife, Gloria, have been married 20 years. “In our diverse community, it is rare to find couples who have been married for many years,” he said. “Our youth in particular need to see a good example.”
Gettins is quick to credit the Lord and others for the impact Mind of Christ Church is having. “We are blessed to have wonderful people like Jason Hinton, Bill Harris and Arzola Ray Fuller,” he said.
Fuller, known to the church family as “Deacon Ray,” said the church was a life saver for him. “I was on drugs and lost, but God answered my prayers. By meeting Pastor Rick, God and this church saved my life. Now I can’t miss a Sunday.”
John Troglin has been attending the church for less than a year, but he has never been to a place like it. “It’s all about love,” said Troglin, who helps the church run a lawn care business to make extra money for the ministry and facilities needs.
The church meets in a renovated 5,400-square-foot property off Lawton Ave. With nearly 50 attending on an average Wednesday and nearly 80 on a Sunday, the church is racially diverse.
“We are not a black church, we are multi-ethnic,” said Gettins. “It was a big struggle to get our own building. We had to raise funds through hard work and various enterprises.”
The church sponsors families who stay a week at a time at the property. The Family Promise Program is designed to offer tangible help to families in need. The church has growing Wednesday evening activities, including a prayer meeting, Bible studies for adults, youth and children, as well as a fellowship meal.
Bill Harris and his wife, Donna, who have seven adopted children, are excited about what God is doing through this congregation. “We have prayed for a long time for this area of Lawton, and one Sunday we found this place of ministry,” said Harris, who co-leads a Bible study. “This church helps the least. After all, any of us could be homeless someday,” he added.
To attract new people, the church has its annual Easter Church in the Park.
“We hold our church services outdoor on Easter Sunday,” Gettins said. This began several years back at Liberty Lake Park. This coming Easter Sunday, volunteer children’s teacher Wanda Thompson said the boys and girls will perform a skit that shows why Jesus was crucified and died, and how He rose again.
“The thing about (ministry) in the inner city, is that you can’t do it the same as a suburban setting,” Gettins said. “We teach them responsibility and life skills, but the main thing we want them to know is the Gospel and the hope that only Christ can bring.”
Gettins says he is still learning to make the transition from church planter to pastor.
“The BGCO conferences and materials have been so helpful, and I cannot say enough good about Dr. (Anthony) Jordan.”
“Sometimes I wonder why God chose me,” said Gettins. “This has not been an easy road, but it is worth it. After all, life is not about what we can gain, it is about what we can give.”