Fairhaven Survivor


Yes, that’s me.  Just look at me.  Don’t I have the haggard, refugee look?  I mean, I’ve been through it all: the church (IFB!), the academy, the youth group, the college –the MEXICO TRIP! (oh,no!) –and I even grew up living on campus!!!

And I survived…and very well!  I now am very happily married to a wonderful man, attending church and serving the Lord in a like-minded IFB church in Pennsylvania, have great friends, wonderful relationships with my parents in in-laws, and we are expecting our first baby in February!  I have soooo much more than I ever deserved, and all because of the grace of God in my life.  Boy, is He ever good to me.

Married May, 2009

And a big part of God’s grace to me was placing me at Fairhaven Baptist Church.  My Dad and Mom met at Fairhaven (before they ever were “Dad” and “Mom” –and before I was even thought of!).  They were married and eventually I was born there in Indiana.   Later Sharon and Jim were born, and eventually Lindsey.  Lindsey had lots of complications at birth, and the whole church prayed and prayed for her.  She eventually learned to walk and talk, and today everyone loves Lindsey at Fairhaven –maybe because they remember praying her through those precarious early days!  God is so good to all of us, but often we forget.  I grew up with some friends who have forgotten.  I wonder if any of them remember how God spared and healed Lindsey?  How we all prayed together for her, and saw God’s miracle?

Well, I spent my childhood growing up at Fairhaven, attending Sunday School, riding on the Chesterton bus route that my Dad served on, attending school at the Academy, and going to day camp in the summers.  I loved it!  And I am so thankful for godly parents.  I feel so rich to have had a Dad and Mom who were faithful to read the Bible to us every day and who also were tough on us in order to teach us Biblical character.  Now Mom is in Heaven, but what a legacy and gift she left us.  Of course my parents disciplined us…and thanks to God’s grace in giving me this discipline, I am what I am today.  I would not be the person I am if it were not for the godly discipline in my childhood.  It is Biblical…it’s right.  I count myself privileged to have had the wonderful childhood I had.  I wonder if any of my friends remember those things.

Our family at a Fourth of July concert

Later I entered the Junior High Youth Group.  I loved Junior High.  I really began to have an interest in spiritual things in Junior High.  I accepted Christ as my personal Savior in the eighth grade.  And I even was present on that Mexico Trip of 1997.  For all the criticisms and allegations and bitterness that are taking place right now regarding that trip, I wonder if anyone remembers the trip how I do –?  I remember a trip where I fell in love with the Mexican people, where I treasured every word of Spanish I could learn, where I heard good, Bible messages, and was challenged from the Word of God almost every day –a trip I was sad to see end.  I wonder if my friends remember any of those things about that Mexico Trip?

Don't you just love the hairstyle! It was hot down there!
My friend Becca...I know she won't mind if I post this!?! She's very forgiving like that!

I went on through Senior High and College, and even stayed an extra year before going out on my own.  I consider my education at the Academy and College as superior in every way, and that is very valuable to me.  Why, our teachers labored over their lessons, and loved us and cared for our personal lives too!  Our pastors, Pastor Damron, Pastor Whitecar, Pastor Voegtlin, and Preacher loved us and prayed hours for us!  The Lord gave me a strength of character, and a love for Him and His Word through Fairhaven.  I would not trade it for anything!  Nothing.  I wonder if any of my friends remember how God worked on them during those years.  I know He did, I remember distinct times for some of them…but what happened?  Have they forgotten all of that?  Oh, that they would remember…how much God loves them still!

Our family --and Dustin...He became more and more of a permanent fixture around our house until I finally married him!

Because of Fairhaven, I married my wonderful husband, and because of Fairhaven, and the biblical teaching I received there, we have a wonderful marriage.  Now we are thrilled at the responsibility and blessing God has given us in a little child to be born in February.  We look forward to raising this little one for the Lord too!  We are currently very happy to be serving in an Independent, Fundamental, Baptist church in Pennsylvania.  God is so good to us, and we look forward to all He has in store!  But let us NEVER FORGET everything He has done for us!

Dustin and I in Baltimore last winter
The only picture we have so far of our "soon to be"!

Deu 4:9  Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons; 

Psa 78:7  That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments:

Twenty Years

Pastor Randy Starr

Today, at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Brogue, we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of our Pastor, Randy Starr, shepherding our congregation.  What a day!  Preaching were Pastor Dave Bottrell and Pastor Keith Sweitzer, both sent out as church planters from our church.  Everything was uplifting: from the singing, to the testimonies, and definitely the preaching.  The testimonies were terrific: from “old-timers” to new members, thanks was given to God for a faithful pastor.  We are proud to call ourselves members of Mt. Zion.

Our church is made of a host of different types of people, but the majority tend to be hard-working farmers, hunters, and contractors.  Pastor is not naturally any of those things.  That doesn’t matter, though, to God.  Pastor Starr was called to Brogue in 1990 to lead a country church down the path of biblical living, soulwinning, and excellence.  And we all love him.  Praise the Lord that He called a willing and obedient man to our church!

My first impressions of Pastor Starr were a little bit fearful: I was in my senior year of college, engaged to be married, and preparing for graduation and ministry.  I was told, when moving to Brogue, that Pastor Starr is very disciplined and thrills himself in organization and planning.  I thought that was great, but not quite to the extent I heard.  I heard stories of notebooks of organization and planning lining every wall (almost true!), everything being very sharp (true!), and a strong leader (true!).  Someone told me if I didn’t do things right at Mt. Zion, Pastor Starr would rip my head off!

Then we got here…one of the first things that welcomed us late that night was a card from Pastor and Mrs. Starr–simply encouraging.  I sure noticed the organization and detail orientation from Pastor, but I also noticed something far more prominent in this man’s life: compassion for people.  Pastor loves his congregation, and is very concerned with their relationship with God.  When he would give counsel, it was not always what people wanted to hear, and sometimes they wouldn’t follow his biblical counsel.  I have seen people break Pastor’s heart, but he still loves them, prays for them, and welcomes them right back in, as if nothing had ever happened, after they get right with God.  This is something you could never learn in a college textbook.  Compassion comes directly from a Holy Spirit filled person.  If there’s anything I have and want to continually learn from Pastor, it is his love for people!

For a long time, I saw Pastor’s love for the church, and heard people say how encouraging he is.  I didn’t know it myself until my wife and I counseled with Pastor.  “This is what a pastor is supposed to be: stern, yet encouraging; loving, yet honest,” I thought.  What a Godly example and heritage Pastor Starr is to our church, and to me personally.  And Mrs. Starr–my wife just loves her: again, the compassion, sincerity, and friendliness in times of hardship, all of which are an example to her as well.

This is the kind of pastor I desire to be some day: a forceful preacher, a seeker of the lost, and a shepherd to God’s church.  Praise the Lord for twenty years of faithfulness!

1 Timothy 3:1-7

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

…all fulfilled

The New Face of Fundamentalist Christianity–Part III

Volunteer or Reasonable Servant?

I don’t think I have ever read anything concerning this subject before, but I have been pondering about it a decent amount lately.  In fact, this article is about ten years in the making.  I think it started with my parents, and some of their very wise opinion and advice in this area.  I believe that this subject is biblical, and without it, service to God can become sold out to materialism and selfishness.

Thankfully as I was growing up, I was taught a good bit about service to God: what it is and what it is not.  I believe that many in fundamental Baptist churches today are confused about what it means to be God’s servant.  Often you may hear the term “volunteer” to describe someone who does some kind of service in the church.  However, we should know that our service to Christ has nothing to do with being a volunteer.  Don’t get me wrong, I think that it is good to volunteer your time: for a good political cause, for an elderly neighbor, or for your community spring cleaning day–but not for your church.  “What are you getting at?”, you may ask.

Webster’s dictionary describes the word volunteer this way: “a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service.”  So why do we not volunteer our time at church.  The answer is simple: service in our church is not voluntary at all.  It is mandatory.

Romans 12:11 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

We know that our salvation from sin and hell has nothing to do with our works.  We can never do enough good works to please a holy God.  After being born again and becoming a child of God, we are officially enlisted into Christ’s service.  And every service to God must be done through your local church.  That is why you cannot volunteer yourself to God or your church.  As the above verse clearly states, our lives are a sacrifice to God: everything is for Him.  We surrendered all of our rights on the cross of Calvary.

A problem with many churches today, or rather many of the people in them, is that they honestly think that the church owes them something.  If the pastor does not preach on what they want to hear, they get mad at him.  If the church’s schedule does not match your schedule, then it is the church’s fault.  If the church does not give you some kind of incentive (food, recognition, etc) to come to a work night, then you just are not going to come.  What ever happened to being enlisted in God’s service.  I think one of the problems is the attitude of “volunteerism.”  Instead of imparting to God what is already his with our time, we hold it back and expect some kind of incentive.  Granted, I don’t know many people who would expect a check from the church for their giving of time; but in a more subtle way, they honestly think that they are owed something from the church, and essentially, God Himself.

The attitude we must have instead is that of a reasonable service to God.  Every hour of witnessing, ever nail that is hammered, every bathroom that is cleaned, every carpet that is shampooed: it is all our mandatory service to the Lord.  Now, all of this may sound somewhat harsh; but it is not at all!  It is a true joy when you are serving God without any strings attached!

One example many of the men from our church experience just a few weeks ago.  We had record amounts of snowfall in southeast Pennsylvania this past winter, and by the time it started melting, our gymnasium building of Mt. Zion Baptist Church started developing some leaks on the roof.  Now, it wasn’t that bad, but enough to concern the stewards (the men who are in charge of taking care of the property) of our church.  I received a call at about 1:00 in the afternoon from our head steward, asking to help shovel off the foot or more of snow off of the roof in a few hours.  And believe me–it is not a small building!  That evening I arrived at church earlier than what was planned, but already, already there were at least a dozen men there on top of the annex building, shoveling away.  For the next few hours, at least twenty of us men got most of the snow off the building.  It was great!  The best part of all, I think, is that the fathers brought there young sons to help too.  True, they did not make much of a dent in the snow, but they learned that when the church needs help, you are there.  It was pretty hard work, but we had a blast doing it too!  Working for God is genuinely a joy!  I don’t think that one of the men considered themselves a volunteer.  That is one of the reasons I like the term steward–the caretakers of God’s things, and in our case, the church buildings.  It is just part of being at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, and serving God all the way through it–not because of something we get, but because of all that Christ did for us.

The main point that I would like to get across is that if your church needs your service, find every way possible not to get paid for it.  Be as generous as you can!  You will not regret it.  Volunteering is something that someone from outside of your church does when they may give time or materials, without making the church pay.  Reasonable service is for those in the church, all because it is what God demands.  If you have a talent or trade, give it to God!  Use it in your local church!

Ephesians 6:77 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:

A Book Highly Recommended

I am a big fan of adventurous biographies: especially those of past missionaries.  I am also unashamedly a Baptist.  Therefore, Baptist missionary biographies are a real treat for me; mainly because good ones are few and far between.  Of course, the most famous modern-day Baptist missionary is probably Adoniram Judson.  I recommend reading a biography of his that I read in college called To the Golden Shore.  The stories of other missionaries are great–especially John Patton, Hudson Taylor, Henry Martyn, and David Livingstone.  However, each one of those men had something that kind of tainted my perspective on them when it came to church polity, the local church, soulwinning, and some doctrinal issues.  They still are all great heroes in my mind, nonetheless.

On the other hand, I had very little to disagree with in a book that was recommended to me about a year ago.  It truly changed my outlook on prayer, faith, and church-planting.  Daktar: Diplomat in Bangledesh is an autobiography by Dr. Viggo Olsen about his conversion, call, and mission in East Pakistan (now called Bangledesh). Dr. Olsen grew up with a very intellectual education that denied the very existence of God.  You may have even called he and his wife agnostic apologists.  However, through the prayers of his wife’s parents, they were led to Christ under many miraculous circumstances.  Viggo Olsen was trained to be an M.D. specialist in internal medicine.  He was definitely on the high road to wealth in 1950’s America.  God, however, had a different plan for his family.  They surrendered to be medical missionaries to the poorest country on earth: East Pakistan.  For the next few years of Bible and tropical disease training, his family served faithfully in their local church as teachers and soulwinners: never ceasing to bring people to hear their pastor preach the gospel.

They were sent by their church after deputation, and arrived on their field in the early 1960’s.  He was not just the “typical” medical missionary.  He believed whole-heartedly that the true way to heal men was to heal their soul: that was their first mission.  Then they knew God did not want them to build some “rinky-dink” medical mission in the bush–they wanted to do it right!  They built a modern hospital with dozens of beds for the people: rich or poor.  The hospital was funded by churches all across the U.S.  The best part: all under a some sense of a local church!

Over their years in the country, God led them through countless trials, physical persecutions by the Muslim majority, and tropical sickness.  I would definitely say their ministry was a true success for God.  I don’t want to re-write the whole book, but please consider reading it–not for college credit, education, or entertainment; but for you.