Minister accepts reins at non-traditional church in North Myrtle Beach

Donny Trexler, who sings and works the sound board at the OD Church of the Lost and Found services in North Myrtle Beach, encourages the congregation to sing along.Jo Ann Mathews

“Pastor Mike” is willing to meet anyone in his office at the
OD Pavilion in North Myrtle Beach. It’s easy to miss him,
though. No name plate is on a door. No directions indicate the
pastor’s location. No one in sight is wearing religious garb or
displaying a cross. I inquire at a nearby shop, and the clerk
points to a man sitting at a picnic table in the pavilion’s open
area overlooking the dunes. “That’s where I’ve seen him,” she
says.

As I approach the table, a tall man with an ample amount of
gray hair rises and extends his hand to welcome me and introduce
himself as Mike Lawing. “This is my office,” he says in response
to my skeptical expression. He explains that the congregation of
OD Church of the Lost and Found wanted him to have a traditional
one, but he declined and shakes his head, dismissing the idea.
He indicates the Bible and notebook on the table as if that’s
all he needs as the new pastor.

“They asked me to stay,” he says of the congregants left
afloat after their long-time preacher, Rev. John Paul “Beaver”

Greenway, passed away in September 2016. “They thought the
church would dissolve.”

“We wanted to make sure everyone would come back, and we
decided we’re going to fight to keep the church going,” says
Lynda Villas, a congregant for four years.

Greenway’s widow, Ann, had asked Lawing to conduct her
husband’s funeral service because the two ministers were
acquainted. She said the transition to Lawing evolved just as
the church had from her husband’s small Bible study group in
1998 to a growing congregation that decided Church of the Lost
and Found was an appropriate name.

It happened Lawing, along with his wife, Kay, lived in
Charlotte, N.C., and he was set to retire as pastor of Landmark
Baptist Church with the intention of spending a good deal of
time on the golf course. He prayed for direction and within a
few months accepted the people’s invitation with some
modifications. He officially changed the name to OD Church of
the Lost and Found and designated deacons and elders to conduct
the business component.

“We felt it was important we had accountability,” says
Lynda’s husband, Milton Villas, who is ruling elder and
treasurer of the church. He explains the church formed an
Outreach committee and has contacted Horry County Schools to
assist with the backpack program. It plans to help needy
families in the community and is considering a fundraiser for
military groups.

“I’ve never seen so many people so open and loving,” Lawing
says of the congregation. “My goal is to love the people, make
the church grow and teach that Christ loves them
unconditionally.”

Being a minister was not Lawing’s goal while growing up in
Charlotte. He wanted a career singing, composing songs and
playing the guitar. His hit record, “One Love,” when he was 17
started on that path. Another song, “Hey, Girl,” came later, and
he followed with five CDs. At the same time, he signed on with
Motown and MGM record companies as an employee promoting their
singers to disk jockeys around the U.S. Eventually the recording
industry wasn’t fulfilling his hopes, so he left and went into
sales with various companies. His life took an unexpected turn
when he was 45 years old.

“The Lord called me,” he says. When asked if he had grown up
being a religious person, he laughs and bows his head while
shaking it ‘no’ as if it includes chapters in his life he
doesn’t want to discuss. He entered Southeastern Seminary in
Wake Forest, N.C. and earned an associate of ministry degree. He
followed that with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a

doctorate in ministry from Emmanuel Baptist Seminary in Connelly
Springs, N.C.

“I’m 76 and loving it,” Lawing says. “I try to be positive
and that’s why our church is growing.”

Lively music is playing before the service begins at 9:15
a.m. on Sundays. Baptist Hymnals are on the chairs, but first
Susan Trexler, music director, leads the congregation with the
“Star Spangled Banner.” The Pledge of Allegiance follows.
The service usually attracts 200-plus people each week.

Everyone is invited to attend, although Pastor Mike says the age
of attendees starts around 45. The congregation participates by
clapping and singing and showing enthusiasm. Lawing reaches out
to them and, at a recent service, gave credit to those who set
up the chairs and another who spreads the word of the Lord as
much as possible.

When Pastor Mike takes the microphone, he reads from Ezekiel
and emphasizes the importance of what Christ teaches. The
service ends at 10:30 a.m. with congregants holding hands andraising them in praise of Christ.

“You feel like you belong,” says Jennie Willis, a visitor
from Lexington, S.C. “You feel like you are welcome.”
“It is very positive. It’s different,” adds her husband, Mike
Willis. “It’s good you can come together.”

“I love his warmth, and the way he relates to people,” Lynda
Villas says.

“He’s a very dedicated Christian man,” Milton adds.
“I don’t preach down to the people,” Lawing says. “They know
I love them and I care.”

_____________

More Information
What |OD Church of the Lost and Found
Where | OD Pavilion, 90 S. Ocean Blvd., NMB
When | 9:15-10:30 a.m. Sundays
Cost | Free, donations accepted
Contact | “Pastor Mike” Lawing, 704-614-6192, mike.cares77@gmail.com, weekly service heard at
www.churchofthelostandfound.com
Details | P.O. Box 5716, North Myrtle Beach, SC 29597; 7-8 p.m.
Monday night Bible study, Mama Jean’s restaurant, 210 S.C. 90,
Little River

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