Missionaries to America find home in Victoria


April 15, 2010 at midnight
Updated April 15, 2010 at 11:16 p.m.

The Rev. Arthur Nelson  ministers at Victoria Church of God, a historically black church located off East Juan Linn Street.

The Rev. Arthur Nelson ministers at Victoria Church of God, a historically black church located off East Juan Linn Street.

They call it the "grisly truth."

It's the idea that most churches don't preach.

Arthur and Josephine Nelson, the husband and wife pastors of Victoria Church of God, blew into Victoria from Houston with Hurricane Ike on their heels nearly two years ago in their motor home.

They've been here ever since, preaching the "old-time religion" that not everyone wants to hear.

"There's a war going on inside of almost everybody between sin and righteousness, good and evil," Arthur said. "The story of the world, basically."

The Colorado natives began calling themselves missionaries to America after realizing not many people preached their message as adamantly as they do.

"We're trying to bring the Christian churches of America back to Godly living," he said.

The church building is humble, there are only eight pews in the building, and the missionaries' picture hangs on the wall barely two feet from a triumphant portrait of President Barack Obama.

The congregation, which is about 50 people, is historically black, but members say the cultural differences don't matter.

"They feel right at home. They call us family, and we call them family," said long-time member Raylene Sims. "We know they're Anglos, but we treat them just like regular people."

The most important thing they have in common is their pursuit of holiness, she said.

"We wanted a speaker, and so he came, and were glad to have him because he believed in holiness," she said.

And the Nelsons' love for their congregations don't see cultural differences.

"We've always had good fellowship with them because they are more enthusiastic about the Lord than most anybody," Arthur said.

What it takes to be a missionary they'll tell you, is a love for people. The two can often be found wandering around town and having impromptu meetings with strangers in parking lots, at the grocery store or in the library.

"You have heart for people," Josephine said.

She's often met with people and shared Christian messages she draws from her library of materials in a black and white book bag. In it, are her most important accessories: weathered devotional books and two Bibles falling out of its coverings.

"We do little Bible studies on the drop of the hat, wherever we happen to be," Arthur said.

Sometimes, the meetings end with prayer, an uplifting message or an invitation to church.

They also maintain a very active Facebook site, e-mail newsletter and send daily text messages to anyone and everyone.

"We meet everybody we engage in conversation, we're very curious about everybody and where they're going in their lives," Arthur said.

Before becoming missionaries, Arthur was involved in land development and Josephine was a professional nanny.

They met and, because of their love for Biblically living, days later were married.

"He swept me off my feet with his doctrine, when he told me that I could overcome the captivity of sin. Seventeen days later we were married," Josephine said.

The two are not sure how long they'll be in Victoria, but they hope to purchase a house and continue their ministry.

"We're trying to offer hope to people that are in conflict in their hearts," Josephine said. "We're trying to show them that there's hope to overcome those things before they die."



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