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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.
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.

“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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