The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Pastor called to Elida


March 11, 2020

Courtesy photo

Cheston Fair began his role as the new Pastor at First Baptist Church in Elida on March 1. He previously served as a youth pastor in Logan since 2007.

ELIDA - Cheston Fair believes God put him on the path to becoming a pastor 15 years ago and has now called him to Elida to serve in the role for the first time.

Fair, 39, is a Portales native, but he spent the last 13 years in Logan, mostly working on ranches as a cowboy. During that time he felt a higher calling and eventually began working as a youth pastor. Now he is bound for Elida to fill the position of pastor at First Baptist Church.

"There's a difference between a preacher and a pastor. A preacher is more evangelical and a speaker that travels from place to place," Fair said. "But a pastor needs to be able to do that, but also be a shepherd to a flock and your congregation will be your sheep. You need to talk with people, listen to them and help them do things. You also need to stay involved with the ministries of the church and the number one thing is to help build the kingdom of God."

Fair said he has always believed in God, but it wasn't until after he started attending church with his wife Beth at Calvary Baptist in Portales that it really clicked.

"I wouldn't say I was a complete stranger to God, but you could say I hadn't made him number one in my life at that point," Fair said. "When I was younger it was like God was my genie in the bottle. When things were good I'd do things my way, but when things got bad I'd go to God and ask for help and start praying again."

After visiting several churches, the couple finally visited Calvary Baptist, where at the time the pastor was absent and there were only about 20 members, all of whom were far older than the young couple, Fair said.

"After the service I told Beth that was our church," Fair said. "She asked if I was positive and I told her it was weird and it was just where we needed to go."

Fair went back the following Sunday and met the interim pastor Wesley McAfee and was moved by his sermon.

Fair began meeting with McAfee every Tuesday for breakfast and began learning more about God and the path to becoming a pastor and eventually started getting involved in the church's youth group. Fair and his family kept attending and eventually more people their age began to join until there were near 100 members.

"Before you knew it, the church was coming back alive and what McAfee was talking and preaching about, I felt like God was telling me I needed to be a pastor myself," Fair said.

"He and I really began to work together and we couldn't build really because we were at an older church, so we started a cowboy church," McAfee said. "He was a cowboy man and began to help and by the time we finished we had about 100 people and a lot of that was because of him."

But not long after, a ranch job in Logan appeared and Fair decided to take it, leaving the Portales area behind for the next 13 years.

While getting accustomed to his new job, Fair said he met a quail hunter one day on the ranch and stopped to talk. Eventually the topic of God came up and Fair mentioned he was disappointed to have left his church and youth group behind in Portales.

"When I told him I was sad about leaving the youth group, he said I was the answer to his prayers," Fair said. "He said they'd been praying for a new youth guy to come to Logan for two years."

Alongside his ranch job, Fair then worked as a youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Logan from 2007 to September 2019, when he was officially ordained as a minister.

As life went on, Fair eventually got a call from McAfee, who he hadn't spoken with for many years. McAfee had been serving as the interim pastor in Elida and asked if Fair had considered applying for the position.

Fair hadn't, but began giving it some thought and said he soon began seeing a bigger picture.

"It started with Wes (McAfee) and God brought it right around back to him," Fair said. "If I hadn't gone back I never would have met him, but God told me that day I needed to be in that church."

McAfee put Fair in touch with the pastor committee at Elida and eventually a group from the church came out to Logan to see Fair in action.

"Our interim pastor and our associate missionary knew him and when I called and talked to him it was like talking to someone I knew my whole life," Herschel Dixon said. "We went and listened to him. The people who went with me were all country folks and ranchers and that's what he was. He seemed like a perfect fit. It was like talking with someone I've always known."

After taking the job, Fair has spent the last week moving to Elida with his wife and their three children: Ryan, 17; Tanlea, 15 and Zoey, 8. He said the move hasn't been without its trials, but he is excited to begin serving the Elida community.

"You can usually tell when you're doing the right thing when the devil starts trying to trip you up," Fair said.

He added that in times like this he has always taken comfort in one of his favorite Bible verses:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understandings and all your ways and knowledge and he will direct your path." - Proverbs 3:5-6

"It's the verse that in my life God used to get my attention and finally get me looking towards him," Fair said.


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