June 1st, 2004

"Our Call to Alabama"

February 1992- We come to Anniston, Alabama for our daughter's wedding and decide to take a side trip to Opelika, Alabama to visit friends and preach at their church (which is looking for a pastor). Nice wedding, enjoyed preaching and seeing old friends, didn't feel called to pursue any ministry position here.

Spring 1992-We are serving at Faith Fellowship Church in Watertown, me as Youth Pastor and Debbie as a Teacher for the Christian school. Our close friend, Tim Grant, is put on staff full time as an Associate Pastor, which is an answer to our prayers for him, but it also initiates a creeping awareness that full time ministry in this church is never going to happen for me. This stirs a lot of soul searching. At the same time it becomes apparent that Debbie's calling to teach is not going to happen there and we begin to pray and seek opportunities elsewhere.

Summer 1992-God begins shifting the leadership mantle of the Youth Group over to Tom and Kris Wilson and we begin exploring other ministry options. I candidate at a church in Central NY and feel God says no. I ride to Obus, NY with Mike Bartholmew to explore a church that has been given to Faith Fellowship with the understanding that the church would support us in any way possible if we would like to take the building and begin a work. God says no. We spend a month preaching at a church in Camden, NY but again, God says no.

Late Summer 1992-Debbie and I have one of those conversations where I run all the options by her from the past few months and she shoots them all down one after another. I feel the same way but this way I can end the conversation with the line "Well if you're so spiritual why don't you tell me what God DOES want us to do, instead of just all the things he DOESN'T want us to do!". Her reply is "I feel God has called us to Opelika!" Then she storms out of the room while I roll on the floor laughing.

Fall of 1992-I hear that some friends, Donny and Suzie Sheltrown from Wisconson, are visiting Lowville NY to record a CD so I drive down and visit them and invite them to our house. Their schedule is too tight so they respectfully decline the offer but then show up at our house anyway Sunday afternoon because "things just went so perfectly in the studio" that they had some time. After lunch Donnie prophesies that God is going to ask us to step out in a way similar to Abraham being "called out not knowing where he is going". The next day I go in to work and get laid off.

Winter of 1992-My daughter sends me an ad for a job selling copiers in Anniston, Alabama and having no ties left to break I say "why not" and answer the ad. We drive down for Christmas and I am offered a job and asked to answer in a couple days, but they can't tell me where they will send me yet because they have three offices and it will be depend on where they need me the most. Atalanta, GA and Columbus, GA are mentioned and when I turn and see the map behind me that they are motioning toward, I realize that Columbus, GA is right across the river from Opelika, AL. By this point all I can do is laugh and say "Why is she always right?".

December 31, 1992-We arrive in Opelika, AL a short while before midnight to stay at the home of friends Mike and Diana Burt. At Midnight we open a bottle of sparkling grape juice, toast the New Year and go to bed. We begin attending the church that they attend along with our friends Henry and Sheila Burt. This church is pastored by other friends Bill and Ginny Ruddell.

January 1st, 1993- January 24th, 1994- This year is spent in turmoil as we, along with our friends, have ended up in a church that unbeknownst to us, was birthed in rebellion and has split from Old Path Christian Church pastored by a man named Bill Bryan.

October 19th 1993-While meeting with the headmaster of Courts of Praise Christian School to sort out problems encountered in our church John Cipolla shares a message with us about Joseph and how his dreams had to die beyond all hope of being fulfilled before God could ressurrect them. I find myself haunted by his words and in the following days and months making journal entries saying "God am I Joseph right now? Am I in the prison? Do my dreams have to die?"

January 23rd, 1994 After splitting a few more times and passing through turbulent times the Lord releases us from this body of believers during a meeting to discuss the future of the church.

January 24th, 1994-We attend church for the last time and they all pray over us to send us out as friends. I read a section of Scripture that God has laid on my heart from Genesis 26:19-22. In it Isaac's servants find a well of "living water" but the herdman of Gerar strive with him over who owns it so he names it "Esek" which means "strife" and then moves on. They dig another well which the herdman come and fight over and he names that one "Sitnah" which means "hatred" and moves on again. They dig a third well and no one fights them for it so he names it "Rehoboth" which means "room" for God has finally made room for them. I tell them we love them but we need to find Rehoboth. They love us too and pray and send us out.

January 25th, 1994-While fasting and praying for God's direction the presence of God falls on me in the cab of a truck and I am overwhlemed with physical pain and grief. God speaks and says "I just want you to feel a little bit of what I feel for Opelika".

January 25th, 1994-January 2004- We move from church to church trying to find a home but nothing fits. Every once in a while we get offers for ministry positions elsewhere, but each time we pray God says simply "no".

Spring 1994-Debbie feels God is telling her to go to school and become a teacher and enrolls in Southern Union Community College. She stays on the Deans List and Presidents list and gets scholarship money.

Fall of 1995-Debbie Graduates from Southern Union and is accepted at Auburn University in the Education Program.

Fall of 1996-Debbie enters Auburn University in the Education Program and again stays well above a 3.5 average and gets more awards and scholarships.

Spring of 1998-Debbie graduates from Auburn University with Honors and a teaching degree.

Fall of 1998-Debbie begins teaching fulltime.

July 14, 1999-Brian Zahnd preaches on David and "The Head of Goliath". He talks about David's need to fulfill his destiny and that it can not be accomplished while he stays in Hebron as King. He must take Jerusalem. He makes the point that destiny has a geography. God calls us to a place and to a people, and we must stay there until our destiny is fulfilled. Once again we know we can not leave Opelika.

January 2003-Victor and Falina Aubuchon visit from California and announce that they are moving here in January 2004 when Victor retires. They buy land and go back to California.

January 2004-Victor and Falina Aubuchon have been calling for a year now saying that they are coming to Opelika and I am to be their pastor. They arrive in January and I feel uneasy by their presence but not because I feel like God is going to do something but because I fear they may expect something from me that is no longer there. I have given up on making anything happen and have just gone about my life selling copiers, raising kids and living life.

April 18th, 2004-Feeling like we have overstayed our time at the First Baptist Church I feel led to visit, for the first time in 11&1/2 years here, the church from which the first church had split and hear Bill Bryan (a casual acquaintence now) preach. He preaches on "Joseph and Destiny" saying in effect "It's time to come out of the Prison Joseph". Through this message and the next week's message God confirms to me that I have been running from the Aubuchons and that we need to start a church in their house.

April 30th, 2004-I stop to thank Bill Bryan for his messages and share what God is doing and am amazed to see how our lives have been linked all these years as he tells of arriving in December of 1991 (1 year ahead of me) only to see his church split and his life devastated. He has spent the last 12 years rebuilding his church, life and ministry. When the question of affilliation comes up for the new church, we stumble upon the fact that the church I have lived around the corner from for the last nine years, and have often dreamt of pastoring, is under his jurisdiction as the local AG Presbyter. And is looking for a Pastor. God may yet grant me that dream and give us this building in our neighborhood.

May 2nd, 2004-The Aubuchon's open their house and we hold our first service. 14 people attend including visitors. Joseph has been called out of the prison and Rehoboth has been found after 12 years of searching in NY and Alabama for God's purpose.

May of 2004-Debbie is tenured with the Lee County School system where she teaches math at Beauregard High School. She is the advisor to, and sponsor of, the Priority One Bible Club that meets in her room. She is also nominated for WHo's Who in teaching by just one of the former students who have been ministered to by Debbie over the years.

Rehoboth Bible Fellowship

"Save me from trendy religeon that makes cheap cliche's out of timeless truths."
Rich Mullins, Save Me

Sunday May 30th- We had 10 people. Philip, Debbie and Rachel led worship and I preached on Three Things to Fight For in our lives.

1.) We must fight for each other. (Nehemiah 4:14). None of us falls or stands alone but each one is connected and when we fail we expose our loved ones, our friends, and our brothers & sisters in christ.

2.) We must fight for the faith as it was delivered (Jude 1:3). We must fight to keep our beliefs Bible centered and in accordance with traditional Christian thought. What Christians have understood scripture to mean for years cannot be twisted by new "truth". Televangelists must not become the theologeons of our time setting doctrinal policy for the masses based on their covetous practices.

3.) We must fight for our dreams (2nd Timothy 1:6). We must take it upon ourselves at times to "stir up the gift" that lies within us. You know the hopes and dreams that you had when you were first saved. Do not let them die.

Building Update:

No news yet on our building. I am going to a ministers meeting around June 10th where I should hear something.