On a hot summer day in 1975, God answered my mom’s prayers and my dad was wonderfully saved from a life of alcohol addiction. At a service station, my parents picked up a church tract which resulted in our family attending Fairfax Baptist Temple. After hearing Pastor Bud Calvert preach the gospel, I received the Lord as my Savior. Under his preaching, I surrendered my life to do whatever God would have me to do. Instead of becoming a pilot, I became a preacher! At this time in my life, my two biggest fears were snakes and public speaking. Snakes could easily be avoided, but not public speaking. Many preaching opportunities brought on the affects similar to panic attacks. It was through these hundreds of experiences that I discovered that God is greater than my weakness.
Pioneering Valley Forge Baptist Temple
Following Bible college and an internship, my home church sent me to the Philadelphia area to begin Valley Forge Baptist Temple in 1984. My wife and I came to the area not knowing a soul. After six months we organized with 21 people while meeting in a public school. After 5 years we had grown to an average attendance of 90. Our first of four buildings was constructed in 1989. God blessed the growth of VFBT in an unusual way, doubling the attendance the first year in the new building. We currently average just over 1,000 in attendance in double services.
Deep Waters for a Young Pastor
God showed Himself faithful to our family through our deepest trial. My first wife passed away of cancer in 1993. As a single father of two young boys, I found myself receiving much help from a very loving church family. Through the deep waters God continued to bless the growth of the church. I learned three powerful lessons about God during this time…
- God’s way is perfect and He makes no mistakes.
- God loves us with an everlasting love.
- God is all-powerful to fulfill His love in our lives.
This is true of the Lord, no matter what the trial. Then the Lord brought “a princess from Canada” into my life to become my new bride – Jodie Friesen, a pastor’s daughter. We were married in 1996 in Ontario, Canada. God has blessed our family with a total of five children – Matthew, Jeremy, Megan, Scotty, and Amber.
Many Hooks in the Sea
The Lord Jesus called us to “fish for men” not “guard the pond.” As the church family matures in their faith, they become witnesses wherever they are. To that end, we have many of the usual outreach ministries – bus ministry, VBS, camps, Reformers Unanimous, etc. But we also have some “unusual ministries” – Chosen 300 (a ministry to preach the gospel and feed the homeless); Community Outreach days, and even a Rugby Team. The Valley Forge Baptist Patriots are the first church rugby team in America registered with USA Rugby. The main purpose of having a Rugby team is outreach – to share the Gospel.
The two foundational pillars of our church are:
The Glory of God, I Corinthians 10:31 & The Great Commission, Mark 16:15
These verses are etched in granite in the first two cornerstones of our church building to be a constant remind of the reason for our existence.
“A Church Crazy about Missions”
At our 2013 mission’s conference, Jeremy Pinero from Vanuatu said that “Valley Forge Baptist Temple is a church crazy about missions.” I learned from my pastor that the Great Commission is for every church. The Lord Jesus said that we are to be witnesses “BOTH in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The command is to reach BOTH our local community and the world – at the very same time! This can only be accomplished by partnering with missionaries who will go to the ends of the earth. I believe one of the many reasons the Lord continues to bless our church family is our commitment to supporting missionaries. Currently we support 180 missionary families and projects.