It was a beautiful day here in Tucson!

Last Sunday was indeed a perfect weather day here in the valley.  And not only that, but we had an excellent attendance in the morning service. The singing seemed exceptionally sweet.  The offertory by Pastor Seth was outstanding!  He played an arrangement of “Higher Ground” & we all soared there during the performance.  Wow.  The Scripture reading from the congregation was from Ezekiel 14:3-8 with the recurring phrase about “Idols in Their Heart.”  I then preached from II Kings 17:7-18 on an example of just that in the Children of Israel, the people of God.  I felt the keen presence of God on that service.  In the course of the message I got off on a short rabbit trail & mentioned something about socialism & its influence in our culture.  I decried it.  After the service a visiting doctor who was saved in the underground church in Cuba told me that he fled the socialism of his homeland & how he feared the similar direction that America seems enamored with today.  God even uses rabbit trails in spite of us humans.

After the service, we all retired to the church courtyard where two women were baptized.  One is a senior citizen; the other is a high school junior.  Although they are different ages, they were both adamant about their relationship with Christ & their desire to life & serve Him.  Hardly anything is as delightful to Baptists as seeing believers follow the Lord in this ordinance of the church.  We all rejoiced & were deeply blessed indeed!

I had to rush off quickly afterwards to catch a plane to Indianapolis.  I had a board meeting for missionary agency on which I serve.  Monday morning I had a meeting at 9 AM that was heart-warming, heart-stopping, & heart chilling all at once!  I was on a panel of pastors who interviewed the senior missionary who was driving Missionary Charles Wesco in Cameroon, Africa when he was shot in the head & killed this past January.  Charles had only been in Cameroon for twelve days when this happened.  We heard the chilling account straight from the horse’s mouth of what happened & why.  Then we ached as we heard of the aftermath of panic attacks & nightmares in those who survived.  I think this is one of those historical events like in 1956 when Nate Saint & his comrades were killed by the Auca Indians as they tried to reach them for Christ.  17 people have surrendered already to go to the Cameroon to serve the Lord Christ because of this event.  The Cameroon missionaries are praying for a full 100 to step forward in this aftermath that the power of God would unleashed in that part of troubled Africa to see God’s mighty Hand work incredible things for His glory.

The evening service at Bethel was without me, but was graced by the presence of Dr. Daniel Cherian, the President of the South India Baptist Bible College.  This is where our own favorite son from Bethel, Jonathan Carpenter, serves.  Dr. Cherian spoke of Jonathan’s unusual opportunities to be used in evangelistic outreach even into the north where a 5000 seat place is preparing for a concert by our own church member who is serving there!  And I had to miss all of that account.  But I rejoice to hear about it now & I delight at God’s wonder-working grace in such a needy place. 

So you can see that yesterday was a blessed day indeed here at Bethel.  This coming Sunday afternoon we have our quarterly church family meeting.  (Most churches call them business meetings.)  It will be immediately after the morning services when we have a share-a-dish dinner together.  Then we will commence into the family meeting.  Because of that, we will not have an evening service this coming Sunday.  So look out in the morning service.  I am expecting a blockbuster.  Pastor Seth will be preaching; the choir will be singing; & God will be honored.  What more could you want than that in a Gospel-giving assembly?  See you then.

Pastor Stertzbach