As on many occasions I had the joy of celebrating an anniversary with one of our congregations. Baptist Temple in Modesto was celebrating 60 years of witness and ministry. The delight of those attending was evident on the faces of believers of all ages.
Although experiences and memories of the church were varied, those attending joined pastor Darrell Beck to listen to a message about the future from Ray Reed, director of missions for Central Valley Association. Children always are a crowd-pleaser and I reveled in the enthusiasm and gusto with which they sang.
Yet, I couldn't shake the remembrances of the faithful saints who sacrificed to start, nurture and sustain a church to share the transforming gospel of Christ.
Shortly after the celebration, I drove to Stockton for the constitution of Iglesia Bautista la Morada where Pastor Nestor Amaya led a great service with the help of Jerry Yates, director of missions for Delta Valley Association.
It was wonderful to be in a service where a new Baptist church was getting off the ground. As those present listened to the church covenant and pledged their support, I could hear the excitement in their voices. Chris Zeller, pastor of the sponsoring congregation, Berea Baptist in Stockton, affirmed their support for this new work.
Even though I won't be around to celebrate this new congre-gation's 60th anniversary, I pray they will remember the sacrifices made by others in 2006.
Every day God reveals Himself to me in the lives of others who serve and are faithful to Him. I think that is why Hebrews is one of my favorite books of the Bible. I especially like chapter 12 - the "faith chapter" - because it speaks of what I witnessed in Modesto and Stockton. I witnessed two groups, both of which were beneficiaries of the faith of believers to share the Good News.
California Southern Baptists are a wonderful family of believers. Let's encourage each other to stay focused in sharing our faith with a state, nation and world that don't know Jesus. We cannot do it alone, but together we can touch the world.