After traveling around Texas, spreading the Gospel as a missionary in Honduras, and running businesses in the Cayman Islands, Paul Buford has settled a bit closer to home to share God’s Word at the River Oaks Church in Sutherland Springs.
Buford grew up in Austin and studied theology at Liberty University. Before coming to Sutherland Springs, he did missionary work in Honduras that included being an associate pastor of a church and doing outreach to drug and alcohol addicts living on the streets there.
Buford truly enjoys his work, sharing the gift of eternal life through Christ.
“I enjoy expanding people’s biblical knowledge and understanding of God,” he said. “It is impossible to truly worship God until we understand who God really is, what He has done, and that He alone is worthy of our worship and praise.”
Buford said that being a pastor in Sutherland Springs can be a challenge, because there are no schools and no large city core there.
“Working in the country is a different challenge than working in a larger city, because people are spread out -- but country people are real, and I like that,” Buford said.
The church has a ministry called Sozo that allows church members to release old hurts and lies that have been stifling or even destroying their lives -- sometimes for decades.
“I guess in a nutshell, the best part is to see people be set free from the bondage that they have in their lives,” Buford said.
The pastor and his wife, Martha, live in Sutherland Springs with their spoiled dog that “might as well be a child,” Buford said. “She travels everywhere with us -- by small plane, big jet, boat, car, truck, or motorcycle!”
His traveling lifestyle has given the pastor more than a few stories to tell.
Buford said that while he was overseas, he called a technical assistance help line in the United States for some help with a phone issue. As he talked with the young man, Buford told him that he was an overseas missionary.
“He kept going on and on about how cool that must be,” Buford said. “I was pretty excited that this guy thought being a missionary was cool.”
After talking for a while longer, the young man said, “That is so cool that you travel around blowing things up and stuff!”
“It was then that I realized that he thought I was a mercenary and not a missionary,” Buford said. “When I explained the difference, he was a little less excited -- way too many movies, I guess.”
Exciting things are happening for the pastor and his church, however. Church members will have their second annual family camp in June. They have started a youth program that meets on Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. and a new men’s ministry that meets on Thursdays at 7 p.m. The congregation also has been improving the church buildings and grounds. They also hope to attract some exciting guest speakers and conferences.
River Oaks Church is located at 10294 F.M. 539 in Sutherland Springs. The church belongs to the Bluebonnet Baptist Association and the Southern Baptist Convention. Church services are on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
For more information, call 830-928-7622 or visit www.riveroaksbc.com