Faith Bible Church was born on Sunday, January 6, 1985 in Felicia and Zachariah’s living room. The birth was attended by approximately twenty adults, including Dick, our ‘minister’ friend and me. The newborn was greeted with great excitement and joy. Praises to God were sung. A board of directions was elected. Goals were established. Dick was asked to serve as their leader until God would provide a ‘real’ pas`tor.
Looking back, I think deep in his heart Dick wanted very much to be the shepherd of this little flock, even though he said, “If someone had told me five years ago I would be even this close to pastoring a church I’d still be rolling on the floor laughing.”
Of course there were a number of reasons that it was impossible for him to be their pastor.
First, he was not Filipino, did not speak the language or understand the culture. Second, he was not a seminary graduate. Third, and probably most critical, according to most religious traditions we’d come across, he had been divorced, was remarried, and was looked upon as ‘living in adultery.’ We were told, with all of these strikes against him God could not possibly use him as a shepherd.
We knew all of this. We also knew if Faith Bible Church was going to survive and not end up fatality number ten for our friends their leader was going to have to be a man who would not move off of God’s Word and God’s Way.
Dick was all too aware of this requirement. He also understood the love and compassion necessary to lead them. He was well practiced in seeking God’s plan for each step we took. He could see that as we worked with this infant organization all he really needed to concern himself with was speaking God’s message—from a hiding place—securely behind the knees of Jesus. He knew God would provide the means.
And provide He did!
To the amazement of many we knew in the ‘church world’ God didn’t bother to check out Dick’s ethnic background, or evaluate his college transcripts. On top of that, the fact that we were ‘living in adultery’ didn’t seem to bother God a whole lot. Maybe He had forgiven us our past sins when men could not. I’m telling you this, because once again God moved through our plans for coping with an impossible situation, making the impossible happen.
Nothing is impossible with God.
God placed the Pastor of a mountain Community Church in our path. I met him through the job I wanted to leave. I loved that wonderful man of God from our first meeting. He was fun! Gentle and jovial, open and genuine, it didn’t seem to matter that he was able to quote most of the Bible from memory. He was apparently unmoved by the fact that while he had been in the business of shepherding a church for years and years, we were brand new, and green as grass. One of the first things I remember hearing him say, “The more I understand about God, the more I know that all of Christianity boils down to this—Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
When our brand new congregation decided their Sunday evening meetings were destined to become a church their goals were to hire a Filipino Pastor and start a building program it was obvious we were going to need guidance from an experienced shepherd.
“Let’s ask Pastor Campbell if he’ll talk with us.” I suggested. “He’s established several church, including the one where he is now. I’ll bet he can hep us with most of our questions.”
“What if this turns out to be another lesson in how not to do it?” Dick wanted to know.
“I don’t think it will.” I assured him, “ He’s so very different from most of the others we’ve met. He truly seems only to care about serving God.”
So, reluctantly Dick agreed.
We called and asked for an appointment. We went to Pastor Campbell’s church. He showed us the campus, told us about God’s call on his life and visited with us for several hours. It didn’t take long for him to develop a mutual understanding with Dick because of the call on their lives . By the end of our visit they had become, not only brothers in Christ, but good friends.
Finally we had been guided to a man who took our experiences seriously. He didn’t even suggest we place less emphasis on spiritual things. In fact, he believed in the call of God on our life and began to take steps to make it possible for Dick to become an ordained minister.
Eventually we met with the Board of Pastor Campbell’s church to talk about the needs of our Filipino congregation and Faith Bible Church.
On Sunday March 10, 1985, in a beautiful little church, nestled in a meadow, near a mountain top in the Sierra Nevada range, with the entire Board of Faith Bible Church in attendance, Dick was given the credentials to become a Pas`tor.
We understood it would be three years before he would be fully ordained. We understood the purpose of the entire process was to lend credibility to Faith Bible Church, their growth and building goals. We understood that having a license to ‘minister’ bestowed by an obscure Community Church wasn’t going to cut any ice in ‘religious circles.’ We understood that as soon as a suitable Filipino pastor could be found who would fill the full-time position they had to offer, our job would be completed.
None of that mattered.
We also understood our Heavenly Father had given us a job to do and then miraculously made a way for us to do the job.
And believe me, it turned out to be quite a job.