Wayne Sage has a comfortable office at Eastside Baptist Church in Copperas Cove. Just behind his desk on a table is a cross surrounded by fist-sized rocks.
Each rock represents a military family who has moved from the church to their next duty station, said Sage, the church’s pastor. He has the family sign a rock, which he places beneath the cross in his Mound of Remembrance. There he can pray for each family or perhaps write a note or email them encouragement in their new home.
Sage was born in 1942 to a family of church-goers on his grandfather’s farm near Naples. His dad was an oilfield worker with Magnolia Oil Co., which moved the family quite frequently. They lived in California, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
In Portales, N.M., the family began attending the Southern Baptist church after they drove by and saw the young pastor mowing the lawn. They stopped to visit and the pastor invited them to church.
The young pastor became an inspiring influence as he led Sage to salvation. It was there at that church that Sage knew he was supposed to go into the ministry one day.
In 1952, the family moved to Ozona, where the oil business was booming. Ozona was known at that time as the richest little town in the world, Sage said. In later years, Sage would serve as interim pastor at a church in Ozona.
In 1959 and 1960, Sage attended Decatur Baptist Junior College, now known as Dallas Baptist University. He sensed a call to preach in his freshman year, he said.
After some years in ministry, Sage experienced “pastor burnout” and decided to go into secular business. He met and married his wife, Texie, in 1998. She and her family were devout in their faith, and Sage’s father-in-law was interim pastor of Eastside Baptist of Copperas Cove.
When he became ill, Sage agreed to help by preaching on two Sundays. But that short assignment turned into months, and in January of 2005, the church asked him to be their pastor.
He felt unworthy of the post, he said. But when the church congregation voted for him 100 percent, he accepted the pastorate.
“I would like to leave Eastside Church in better shape than when I came,” Sage said. “Sometimes, it is difficult to get folks to understand commitment and being faithful to church.”
Ann Kelly, who has served as church secretary since 1986, called Sage a “fine Christian gentleman who studies the word to preach it.”
“His memory for historical facts is amazing,” she said. “He is a wonderful, caring pastor to his church.”
Eastside Baptist is at 1202 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Copperas Cove.
Herald/Sandra Duffy Oliver