I attended a meeting recently where our California Southern Baptist Convention CEO challenged us to do more, reach more, give more, and I think pray more. As we wrap up 2019 and thinking about what more we can do in 2020, I paused to look over the last 19 years and all that God has done through my church. I don’t mean this to be a bragging session but God has used us to make a difference in thousands of people’s lives. The first Sunday in October my wife and I will be starting our 20th year as pastor of First Baptist Church of Clairemont. Our first Sunday here we had 29 people, five of which were my family. It was a slow start but here is a list of some of what God has done with a people who are sold out to Him:
In March of 2001 we had been here for six months, my sermon was to challenge the people to do more. I remember telling them “it’s time to be a blessing instead of receiving the blessing.” For several years we had been on the receiving end of churches doing mission trips and helping struggling churches. Now was the time to start paying back.
Our first mission project was to tear off the roof and rafters at the seminary in Tijuana. We bought the material and rebuilt the whole thing in one day. We did receive some help; there were seven from our church and two from First Baptist Church of Mira Mesa. Since then we have given thousands of dollars to various Mexico ministries and helped sponsor six churches in Rosarito, Mexicali, and Tijuana, and gave to two orphanages. I cannot begin to list all the supplies, gifts, and food we have donated. At the same time we were asked to help find a ranch for Set Free. We found one in Delzura and gave about $30,000 to help make it a reality. We helped them relocate four times, start new ministries in Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Escondido, and Phoenix.
We have gone on numerous mission trips to Tijuana, but we were not satisfied with just crossing the border so we decided to do long distance missions. Our first mission trip was to Molokai, HI. We did a VBS and some construction work. From there we spread to South Dakota, and Montana. We had so much fun doing construction work that we decided to help our Jenness Park three different times and the Idyllwild Camp once. Our youth director became the pastor of FBC Westwood, CA and asked us for some help so we took a mission trip to do more construction. Most of our construction trips we also paid for material.
In the last nineteen years we have had a heart to reach our community. As a result we try to minister to all people. With that in mind we have started a Filipino church (River of Faith, now an independent church), a contemporary church (Barabbas Road), a church for college students (Redeemers Grace), forty five percent of our community is Hispanic so we also started a Hispanic church (Iglesia Baptista de Clairemont). There is a large percentage of our community who have or are using drugs. As our goal is to reach our community for Christ, we are trying to include them so we started a church that can better reach and minister to them so we started(Set Free Baptist Church of Clairemont).
Giving has been an important part of our DNA. We have been in the top 50 givers to the Cooperative Program for most of the last 19 years. We have consistently given over $5,000 to Lottie Moon Christmas offering, over $3,000 to Annie Armstrong Easter offering, and $1,000 to the State Mission offering. We have donated supplies for the local schools, collected for Angel Tree, Samaritan Purse, Crisis Pregnancy, ECTLC, Tijuana pastors, and Centro Shalom.
International missions has been on the heart of many of our people. We have been to Argentina, Mali, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, and Latvia.
God planted us in the Clairemont community. We are told to make disciples of all nations but sometimes missions need to start at home. We have regular church programs but we decided we need to do more so we started an AWANA program on Wednesday nights. Twice a month we feed homeless and needy people. We have two ongoing ESL classes. We have cleaned the alley twice in an effort to give a sense of pride in the community. We have a Chinese Bible study on Friday nights. And the list goes on.
I’m not sure our vision is going to change. We will Step Up as best we can. We’ve done all this with a congregation that has averaged 70 people over the years. God is not through with us. I can’t wait to see what God will do in the next 19 years.