MINISTER, R.W. McAlister
My name is R.W. McAlister and I have lived my whole life in Jonesboro, IL and all but five years of it on a farm just south of the Jonesboro Square. I grew up in a farm family and farming was “in my blood” so to speak and still is. In addition to the ministry and secular work as an Agriculture teacher, I also raise grain crops on the family farm and write occasionally for Tractor Shop Magazine.
I obeyed the Gospel at the age of 11 after much study with Brother Dave Smith, after hearing many sound sermons preached by Brother John Shelton, and with encouragement from my parents.
My family survived the tough financial times of the 1980’s that brought many farmers to the point of bankruptcy; however farming was all I wanted to do, but my family discouraged it. So, when I turned 16, I applied for and was given a job at the local radio station as a Disc Jockey and News Reporter. This is something I enjoyed, but never as much as farming. I worked there for three years.
Upon graduation from Anna Jonesboro Community High School in 1990, I entered Southeast Missouri State University as a Radio/T.V. major but immediately changed my major to something I’d loved practically since birth – Agriculture. My parents were uneasy at first, but once they realized I could work in the Agri-business industry in sales or marketing, they supported me wholeheartedly. The problem was, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but knew I hated sales. Before graduation, I considered substitute teaching until I figured out what it was that he wanted to do. Little did I know at this point that I would end up being a gospel minister.
After graduation, I worked as a substitute teacher and realized immediately I enjoyed teaching. After 2 ½ years of substitute teaching and working as an instructional aide, I was hired at Century High School on a vocational teaching certificate as their Agriculture Teacher and I’m still employed there today.
I married the beautiful Leah Renee Allstun from East Prairie, Missouri whom I met while in college. We were married in December of 1995 and have three children. Katie is 8 years old, Holly is 6, and Jason is 2. We currently reside on my family’s farm just south of Jonesboro.
Throughout my life, I’ve maintained my faith and devoted more time to it and to the Lord as I taught my then-fiancée about the Lord’s church. She was baptized almost a year before we were married, and we have steadily grown in the faith and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (II Peter 3:18).
As my faith grew, I began teaching Bible classes, leading in worship, and was convinced by some good friends and brothers in Christ to take part in the radio preaching program. I did this until the decision was made to discontinue the program.
In 2002, after a great deal of encouragement by Brother Brent Miller, I preached my first Gospel sermon in Wetaug, IL at the church of Christ. Not long thereafter, when the minister at the Cairo, IL congregation passed away, I joined the rotation of men from Anna who took turns filling Cairo’s pulpit. This led to me being called on by other congregations from time to time when they needed a preacher to “fill in.”
After a short time in the pulpit, I realized that I’d finally found something I could get as excited about as plowing! This led to me offering to work as the interim minister at the Anna church of Christ, my “home congregation” since the age of 6, after the departure of Brother Andy Erwin in August, 2006. It didn’t take long for me to realize I’d really missed something all of the years I hadn’t been preaching, and I decided to put my name forth for consideration to be the minister full time. After nearly eleven months, the Elders made the decision to hire me as the “regular” minister, but encouraged me to keep my secular job for the benefits the church couldn’t provide.
I feel very blessed to have the privilege to serve a congregation that has given me so much, and I thank God for allowing me to be an evangelist in His church.