Bless This Church

 

 The very first time I met this dear congregation, we were worshipping in an empty store-front sho in the little strip-mall on Taft and Tustin. BB&H Auto Parts was still doing business just a few doors down from us. There was a Scuba shop right next door. It was a Sunday morning in January 1995; we had come to worship for the very first time. Everyone who came brought a chair to make it happen. 

   I had come to preach just the once; not really sure that the Lord was leading me to do more than that. But that first Sunday morning changed it all. I looked out at this dear little, disconsolate group of Christian believers who had lost their church home a few months before. They didn't care if it wasn't a plush "sanctuary": They didn't want a cathedral or mega-church: an empty store-front was fine with them! They just wanted to worship their Savior; hear the Word of God and faithfully serve Him. And that they did. They sang their hearts out and listened to His Word as if they hadn't heard it for months. I don't believe they had. I was hooked! 

   We grew slowly at first. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Children's Sunday School was in the Scuba shop—I am still thankful for that dear proprietor for offering that to us: "we're closed on Sundays anyway, so here's the key!". I think it's the first Sunday School in history with Scuba tanks in the corner and spear guns on the walls (tips removed, of course).

   We went to the neighborhood, door-to-door, inviting them to come. I remember being teamed up with Donna Clayton for that: together we covered quite a few blocks and, let me tell you, Donna was showing me how to do it! God bless her! 

   Later when we needed a larger facility, we started worshipping in a borrowed sanctuary: the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Walnut St. Shortly after that, we rented the abandoned Baptist Church on Taft, just around the corner from our initial store-front site. There we resided as the Covenant Community Church and continued to worship and serve and grow. 

   One day, word came that the church we were renting was up for sale: we would have to buy it or move out. The asking price was way beyond our means, but—oh!—we wanted to stay there! We gathered as a congregation and, by consensus, almost unanimously agreed to make that offer, take out a loan, do whatever it took. 

   But one man stood up in the group that day. Eugene DePriest: "I'm sorry, but I don't feel that the Lord is leading us to do this. I'm not for it. I believe that if we just wait, God will provide something better." 

   Wisdom had spoken—but 'painfully' we thought at the time. After all, we'd have to go back to Seventh Day: wouldn't that be a step backward? Incredibly, we all listened to Eugene and went back to Seventh Day!  

   Several months later, with our office in a trailer in the parking lot of Seventh Day, members of the First Baptist Church of Orange showed up: "We like what you're doing; your neighborhood outreach. We need a pastor and a congregation; you need a building. We've got one! Let's merge!" That was John Schroeder and Jim Friesen—the beginning of a wonderful union of believers! And yes, Eugene had spoken prophetically! 

  Years later, we became Calvary Chapel and what a wonderful blessing that has been!  

  God has blessed this church from the very beginning and I know the reason: the people of this church have one passion: Jesus Christ; one message: The Word of God; and one purpose: to reach the world for Jesus. God willing, that will never change and He will always be with us!  

  Our "Congregational Meeting" is coming up and it will be filled with thanksgiving for all that God has done through you, dear ones. It is truly a blessing for me to be one of your pastors. I know the other pastors feel the same. Come join us to thank God and seek His will for the year ahead, won't you? Wednesday Night, January 23. 

  We have four godly men to add to our team of elders this year:

   Ken Stice, already one of our elders but returning to serve this year: you all know what a  godly example he is to us all; an excellent teacher of the Word too! I'm glad he's coming back on. 

   Jiri Novak.  You've all heard Jiri preach. He is an anointed preacher and teacher of the Word. Jiri gave his life to Christ years ago and has been serving and pastoring ever since. He and Christin have two delightful children, Daniel and Emma. I'm excited that he will help us in this capacity now. 

   Yvan Arguin gave his life to Jesus in his childhood years. He has been a faithful servant of Christ all through his adult years. He served as an elder in his former church. He is also a faithful ambassador for Christ in his work. As a property manager in a community of over 250 residents, he and Theresa are always helping someone, encouraging someone, meeting their needs and sharing Jesus. Theresa has been a faithful witness for Christ during her many years as a pre-school teacher. Their son Philippe, his wife Brittany and now little Autumn are with us here at OT, but as Yvan says: all 250 of the residents under his charge are "our children as well." That's the spirit! He knows the Word and faithfully proclaims it. I'm glad to have him serve with us. 

   Mike Delawder has been worshipping and serving with us for six years now. Mike was an Elder in his former church. He and his family, Vicki, Eric, Nick and (now) Michelle are wonderful proof of his godly leadership and example. Mike is a wise and compassionate man, faithful to God's Word and deeply devoted to Christ. He will be a wonderful part of that team of Elders. 

We have new deacons and deaconesses to present as well; and lots of other good things to report. Hope to see you at the meeting.  

So glad you worship with us!

See you Sunday.                                    RAS

His Plan...His Vision
Risk-Taker!