From the time Sarah was just a few days old until she left for college some eighteen years later, she attended La Junta Baptist Tabernacle (LJBT). Even though she spent four years in South Carolina gaining an undergraduate degree, followed by two years in Wisconsin in graduate school, a year in Arizona, and then 14 years ministering in the Northeast, LJBT has always held a special place in her heart. LJBT is family to Sarah in a way that I have a hard time relating to. I did not grow up going to church, so I don’t really know what it is like to have such a long history with the same group of people, who, even though they are not related by blood, are related in a much more meaningful way as fellow children of God. Every time I hear Sarah speak of her home church, I immediately sense the deep love she has for the folks in this congregation. They have supported, encouraged, helped, and blessed her through these many years.
While I was setting up meetings in the early fall, there were a couple of openings in October that just weren’t getting filled. I tried to scheduled meetings, yet the weeks remained open. So, as God has been teaching me, I decided we would just “go with the flow” and use these two open weeks to connect with Sarah’s home church here in Colorado. Our plan all along has been to utilize our family and church connections here in La Junta / Rocky Ford, Colorado as a second “base” while we visit churches to raise support out West. (Sarah’s mom and dad still live here in Rocky Ford). However, our initial plan was to come out in the summer of 2018. But, since God seemed to be closing the door to meetings out East during this stretch of October, we decided this would be a good opportunity to connect with La Junta Baptist Tabernacle sooner rather than later. So, using airline miles, we booked our tickets and made our way out West. Looking back now, I am so thankful the Lord directed our way to Colorado these past two weeks.
Our time with family, and connecting with LJBT has been such a blessing. We are thankful to be able to share the call God has placed upon our hearts with this wonderful church family. Pastor Jon Brandt has been a source of great encouragement to our entire family over the years I have known him. My history with Pastor Brandt goes all the way back to our wedding. He officiated the ceremony! Sarah has looked up to his wife, Ruth Ann for over 30 years, and in many ways has patterned her own ministry as a pastor’s wife, and servant of God after her. Ruth Ann is known for her joyful, loving spirit, as well as her dedication to her husband and church family.
An added blessing at LJBT is that Sarah’s older brother, Tim, serves as the Associate Pastor of the church. He selflessly serves the young people within the congregation, as well as the community. His wife, Joy, and his children have a deep passion to glorify God, and are a constant example to me of what it looks like for a family to faithfully serve our Savior.
This past Sunday night, LJBT surprised us by taking a congregational vote to support our family. (And just as a note, the picture above is not the church vote. This picture is Tim asking a wacky question to the kids at the AWANA Club.) With LJBT’s support, we are now over 20% of our monthly support. I find it hard to believe that we have only been on the deputation trail a little over a month, and we are already 1/5 of the way there! We are so thankful for the support of this dear congregation. But what meant even more to us was the special time of prayer the congregation had for us on Sunday night. After taking the “vote” the congregation surrounded our family and folks began praying for the ministry God had called us to. They prayed for our family and asked for God’s grace and mercy to sustain and protect us. In listening to their prayers, you could tell they were not just praying for missionaries… they were praying for family.
We are so thankful for the generosity, and love LJBT has shown to us. We look forward to our partnership in the Gospel with them and the fruit that will abound to their account. This church will forever be a part of our family. It has been so good to come home.