“Follow your dreams,
reach for the stars…
but never forget where you came from.”
When I think of Marion many things flood my mind. I remember the days when it was small and quiet. The churches were filled and every holiday brought a festive cheer over the town. I remember playing with the neighborhood kids who have all grown and spending many nights with dear friends around a bonfire, telling ghost stories that mixed with the sound of crickets. The Popcorn festival and parade that brought everyone together for a few days of fair rides, food, and recognition.
I could keep listing the memories of my hometown, its unique qualities such as the Palace Theatre pictured above. Though appearing like any palace on the outside, walking in you would be transported to another place, with a dark blue sky, twinkling stars, and moving clouds, surrounded by buildings to look as though you were in a courtyard. I’ve been there many times and never stop gaping at its beauty.
Or President Harding’s home and memorial. I pass both daily into town, the memorial is a popular spot for wedding and prom pictures, and his home is frequented by kids on field trips. Marion is simply rich in history….and yet, many don’t even know it exists.
It all started as Jacob’s Well. Marion was a camping ground for troops during the War of 1812. One night Jacob Foos, a fellow soldier surveying the land became very thirsty so he began digging until a spring of water welled up. This well is still here today! The name, Jacob’s Well, stuck till the founding of Marion in 1822 when it was named after General Francis Marion.
Marion now is known for its crime, drugs, and hopelessness. Many of its once-booming companies are left abandoned, it’s no longer a stopping ground but now a place to rush through. The place of refreshing has taken on the identity of its new name, Marion, which literally means “rebellious.” I say all this because, in order for my hometown to change, we must first reflect on its history. We have to know where we came from to know where we are going. We have to remember the mistakes we have made in order to avoid repeating them in the future.
It takes more than a church plant to change a town…it takes God. Marion County has over 200 churches in 400 sq mi of land. Many of which are located in or near town. I truly believe that if we stood united, reached out to our community and re-lit our fire for God, those 200 plus churches would easily transform this town and the entire county.
Revivals are lit in the land of desperate hunger. And that hunger for something more is so prevalent in today’s society. Somethings gotta give! The tension is mounting and our hearts are growing more discontented by the year. Evil seems to be taking over, and yet, miracles are happening, hope is catching, and Christians are rising up and fighting back the darkness.
I don’t know where you grew up. Maybe your town has always been flourishing, or maybe you have never known a time when your town was wealthy and secure. Regardless of where you are, you’re surrounded by hungry people. Some may not know it while others are inwardly screaming for it. And you may just be the only one to point them to Jesus. Maybe God is calling you to be the first to start this revival. Don’t know how to start? Just be love. Love and kindness are contagious, love everyone you meet..look them in the eyes, lend a helping hand…a smile…recognize people for who they are, not who they aren’t. That is how it all begins. And when people start to notice that you carry something different they will soon ask you, “what makes you different?” And at that, you tell them about Jesus.
God is at work here in Marion. I see Him at our church, He is reaching out to take back what satan stole from this land. He is restoring hearts and broken families. Businesses are coming back and hope is in the air. It’s going to take a lot of work and sacrifice, but with God anything is possible. As my pastor likes to say, “Marion’s best days are ahead!”
What a privilege to be a part of this town…my hometown.