One of my greatest privileges in ministry was to serve as pastor at Faith Baptist Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. Clearly, by God’s grace, we were led there in 1970, and then eight years later were directed by the Lord into a different kind of ministry path. Thankfully we remember the years at Faith as blessed years of serving, learning and maturing in the life of ministry.
When we moved to St.Paul I was a 29 year old eager to shoulder the yoke of being what is now called the Senior Pastor role. I was truly a rookie pastor, but I inherited a wonderful core group of faithful church members.
There was also a small staff that included two stellar individuals. Max Day was already serving as Assistant Pastor, and he was a tireless worker who was game to do anything needed. Joyce Gaydosik was a part-time secretary who administered an efficient church office, with ancient equipment, and ran a home-cleaning business simultaneously. Both amazing people.
After several years Max took a pastorate, and God allowed me to bring newlyweds Wayne and Carole Vawter to join us, with Wayne taking over the task of Assistant and Youth Pastor. We had a vigorous bus ministry and brought many children, teenagers and some adults — especially women — into the church family. Wayne led a very effective and growing youth ministry that was basically carved out of bus kids. Today we both have contact with a number of those grown kids who are still growing in the Lord after 45 years.
This past week, Connie and I were supposed to enjoy an Alaskan Cruise of a lifetime with the Vawters and Bill and Delanita Sheehan. The Sheehans were an integral part of the Faith ministry, as Bill directed our choir and led the congregational singing. It would have been wonderful to reminisce with these dear friends, but God had another plan — and those plans are still unclear to us at this time.
Wayne told me over the phone that he has a disc for us with over 170 pictures from those Faith days. It will be a great blessing to receive that trove of visual images. He mentioned that as they reviewed the pictures a flood of memories came to their minds as they sought to remember faces and were reminded of rich ministry experiences. There were so many faithful servants!
All of this remembering brings to mind the words of an old chorus.
Heaven is a wonderful place,
filled with glory and grace;
I want to see my Saviour’s face,
for Heaven is a wonderful,
Heaven is a wonderful, yes,
Heaven is a wonderful place.
The ministry and memories from our time at Faith are treasured because of our Savior’s glory and grace, and what He accomplished in our lives. Heaven will be a wonderful place because Christ will be the center and focus of our worship. But it will also be wonderful to join with the chorus of saints to remember the joys of serving the Lord Jesus. What a privilege we have had to serve with faithful partners in the ministry of grace.
We say with the apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20.
“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.”