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He Prayed For The Big Church Across Town

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Pastor Miller hung the phone up and slumped into the chair. This was unbelievable! It was sickening. He sensed the pending devastation.

The voice mail on his cell phone announced that a 3rd couple in two months wanted to move their membership across town to the big church.

Only a handful of families were left here now. Would the nightmare ever stop? It was like a hemorrhage that was unending. The families that had left weren’t content to just go, they pulled on the remaining ones with reports of how wonderful things were at the new church. Their family and friends wavered in their loyalties. Who knew where it would stop. His church wasn’t growing. It was shrinking and he couldn’t stop the process.

No letter of transfer was ever asked for, and the other pastor had never called when someone moved in. He didn’t want to accuse the pastor across town of trying to proselyte, but the members there didn’t hesitate to do it for him.

The big church had quite a few people with money. They could afford to hire a full-time music director. They had also imported a youth pastor that was given full reign and a handsome expense account to attract and entertain young people. He did his job well, evidently. He personally encouraged all the young people in town to be a part of his youth group.

The bigger church had concerts, dramas, guitar driven worship, newer songs, fog machines, strobe lights, multimedia presentations, Power Points and many well-known guest speakers. A Starbucks type coffee shop was just down the hall from the entrance. The aroma always drew a crowd. Their church always had something going on there.

It was impossible for the pastor Miller’s small church to compete with the big boys. He had neither the resources nor the staff. He worked a secular job just to keep the wolf away from the door.

He had nearly broken his health trying to dig a church out of nothing. He had been ethical to a fault. He had never taken anyone from another church.

He personally had won most of the people in his church. He had taught almost every one there a Home Bible Study. He had prayed them through. He had baptized them. So this is the thanks he gets? How does he stop the migration? He didn’t want to feel jealous or harbor bad thoughts, but it still didn’t feel good. His wife was devastated. Now, there was little chance the church would be self-supporting anytime soon.

He knew the Pentecostals in town considered him “old school”.  He still had testimony service. His church even sang out of the songbook. They sang many choruses were those sung by previous generations.

A piano and a box guitar provided the music. They used to have a drummer, but he had moved across town to the big church.

Bro. Miller had never been invited to preach a special meeting in his life. He knew he never would be asked.

Two special needs adults in his church always caused distractions to visitors. One often spoke out loud at the wrong time and had to be treated like a child.

The $41.43 in the Sunday night offering last week didn’t pay much on the utilities or church payment. His people were poor. He had to help most of them survive. He had paid utilities for many of his people, helped a few times with their house payments. He’d even co-signed for a car, once or twice.

The girls in the big church called the young girls in his church ‘grandmas’. Their modest apparel was scorned as unnecessary. At the big church, not much was said about standards evidently. (That was an unkind thought he knew, but he’s not been impressed by what he’d seen in the mall.)

There was no one for pastor Miller to complain to, confide in or cry with. He privately wished that the Prophet Nathan would go across town and preach the story of the ‘one ewe lamb’ again. It seemed fitting.

When he heard reports about ‘revival’ and church growth across town, he knew where some of the growth had come from.

Life didn’t seem fair. He made up his mind that he would paste a smile on his face, keep doing his best to have good church, preach like there was a house full, not talk about those that left, and encourage the rest.

God would sort it all out some how. He was trying to help build God’s Kingdom, not his own. He would not allow a war to go on. He didn’t know what to do.

So Pastor Miller took advantage of his off-night and went to his church by himself. He went up to the altar in the empty sanctuary and knelt down to pray.

He only prayed for one thing. He prayed for the church across town. He prayed that God would give them a great harvest of souls. He prayed that God would abundantly bless them. He prayed for the Pastor, for their leaders, and for the members. He prayed for their finances and for their outreach efforts.

He prayed for them, like he wished someone, somewhere would pray for him. He prayed for the big church across town, like he wished someone would pray for the church he pastored.



Written by Martyn Ballestero

August 31, 2011 at 12:01 am

Posted in Church Planting, Prayer

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The New Neighbor

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The New Neighbor

Arthur James McDonald was in trouble. He was heartbroken too. His parents had recently died in a car accident. He had no family to his knowledge in America. A draft notice had just come in the mail. He was to report in two weeks. The U.S. Army was to be his new home. All he had left in the world was his girlfriend, and he was being taken away from her.

Arthur’s girlfriend, Norma Sue was in tears. She knew that he would soon be going to Viet Nam like all the other guys that had been drafted. The two of them spent as much time together as possible before he left. Her parents hated him. They dreamed of someone better for their daughter.

In a large metro area 374 miles away, Joe and Gloria Phillips sat in front of a gentle natured old lady. They wanted to adopt a baby and were willing to jump through all the hoops to qualify. Whatever it took. Hopefully the cost wouldn’t overwhelm them. They were told that there was nothing available at the time, but she would put their names on a waiting list.

29 months and 16 days in Viet Nam seemed like an eternity for Arthur. The letters from Norma Sue had been constant for several months. Then nothing. Not even a ‘Dear John’ letter.

When Norma Sue’s parents found out that she was expecting, they sent her to a home for unwed mothers. They were so ashamed. Hopefully their friends and family would never know.

Her parents had restricted her. There was to be no contact between her and Arthur. They threw all his letters into the trash. He was to never know about the baby.

The Doctor shook his head at the nurse. The baby was born healthy, but the mother lay lifeless on her bed. Her parents must be notified. The social workers took over.

On July 23, 1962, Gloria received the news while Joe was at work. The Agency had called and said they had a newborn baby boy for them. She was ecstatic! The lady said that the baby’s mother had died in childbirth. The maternal grandparents did not wish to keep the baby. The father’s name on the birth certificate was Arthur James McDonald. Nothing else was known of him or his family.

Two Sundays later, baby Donald Paul Phillips was dedicated to the Lord at the First Pentecostal Church.

At the age of five, little Donny Phillips received the Holy Ghost in Children’s Church. Donnie loved the Bible stories he learned in family devotion and in Sunday School.

Joe and Gloria told Donny when he was 9, that he was adopted. They told him that his mother had died giving birth to him and that the only thing they knew about his dad was his name was Arthur James McDonald. Young Donny hugged his parents and told them he loved them and that he was glad they had wanted him to be their boy. “You’re my Mommy and Daddy,” he said.

When he was seventeen, Don felt like he wanted to be a preacher. He did not say anything to anyone about feeling a call to preach.

Pastor Walker watched the spiritual progress of this young man. The Phillips had excelled as parents and Don was great young man. He prayed in the prayer room, he worshiped during the service and he was very obedient as well. The pastor could tell that the hand of the Lord was upon this young man.

Unlike some of the others in the youth group, Don was not rebellious. He did not test the boundaries of the church’s standards nor did he hang out with the worldly kids in the church.

At eighteen, Don gave his first sermon in a youth service. In private, he later cried tears of disappointment in his amateur attempt at preaching. It was harder than he’d imagined.

In June 1987 Donald Paul Phillips watched Rebecca Thomas walk down the aisle to take his name in holy matrimony.

Three years later Donald and Rebecca  started a storefront Home Missions church 50 miles away. Their pastor had helped them in their choice and had placed his blessings on them.

The small group grew slowly, but it grew nevertheless. Another building and fifteen years later, found them in a regular ‘church’ building.

The new location seemed to spark another growth spurt. The new converts started bringing their friends and family. Men and women were getting the Holy Ghost every week. The baptismal tank was used just as often too.

Bro. Jimmy Delano a new convert, brought his new neighbor to church last Sunday Morning. He had been teaching him a Home Bible Study and was thrilled when the neighbor asked to come to church with Jimmy.

Pastor Phillips preached a wonderful message on the Holy Ghost. Four new people were in the altar, and all of them received the Holy Ghost. They also wanted to be baptized.

The first baptismal candidate was an older gentleman. Jimmy Delano’s new neighbor. As Pastor Phillips prepared to baptize him, he asked him his name.

“Macky,” the old man said.

“Macky what?” was the pastor’s response.

“I’m sorry, that’s my nickname. My full name is McDonald. Arthur James McDonald.”

Pastor Phillips looked at the man he was about to baptize, for a moment, and then with tears streaming down his face he called his two young children up close to the baptismal tank.

“James and Stephanie, he said, “I want you to watch me baptize my Daddy and your Grandpa, Arthur James McDonald, in the precious name of Jesus!”

Written by Martyn Ballestero

December 18, 2010 at 4:04 pm

The Danger Of Premature Launches

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The Danger Of Premature Launches

Things in life don’t always turn out well until it’s the right time. Wisdom dictates we wait until it’s the right season, or until all the pieces are in place.

Sister Nona Freeman, our beloved woman of God told a story about wishing she was ‘perfect’ when she was a young saint in the local church. Her pastor looked out the window at her garden in the backyard and said, “Sis. Nona, I’d like to have some corn on the cob”

“Why pastor, I’d be happy to fix you some, but I don’t have any.” She replied.

“Isn’t that corn in your garden?”

“Yes sir.”

“Then I’d like you to fix me some, please.”

“But I can’t,” was about all she could say.

“Why can’t you?” The pastor persisted.

“I can’t she said because it’s only this high,” she demonstrated holding her hand about a foot off the floor.

“What’s that got to do with it? Corn is corn regardless of its size.”

“I know, but I can’t, because it isn’t matured yet. There’s nothing there but leaves and stalk.”

“Sister Nona, that’s what the word ‘perfect means in the Bible. It’s talking about reaching maturity.”

What happens when things are done prematurely?

I recently heard Bro. Carlton Coon at the General Conference. He briefly spoke of his fear concerning the premature launching of Home Missions projects. His descriptive use of that phrase prompted me to consider the value of his fear. I find many other areas of life that give additional enlightenment on the subject. Here are a few.


Launching a Play

Who ever heard of having a play without having a play practice?


Launching A War

Imagine a President talking to the General of his Army and ordering him to attack the enemy when the Army is ill prepared. It would mean certain death, to go to war unless the troops are in place, the supply line is there and the men are equipped with ground and air support.

There’s a time for war, a time to fight. There’s a time to stand down.



Launching A Ship

Even God waited until Noah finished the Ark. If the ship is not completed, why launch it and let it face certain disaster? Finish the boat, then launch.


Launching A Business

Why open a grocery store with only one gallon of milk, two loaves of bread and a jar of pickles? Yes, you may have a sign and some shelves. You might even have a cash register, but what you need is enough on the shelf to keep the customer coming back.

  • A wannabe barber doesn’t open a shop just because he found a pair of scissors.
  • A mechanic wouldn’t be successful if he used dish soap instead of fuel injector cleaner.


Launching A Marriage

“God’s got the right girl for you son.” We hear statements like that when we are young. As true as that may be, other things factor in. She might be 12 years old when you meet her. It’s the right girl; it’s just the wrong time to marry her.


Launching A Ministry

A ministry is God’s call on your life. Just because he has called you doesn’t mean it’s time for you go immediately.

David was anointed King many years before he took the throne. You may not want me to say this, but he spent years in preparation. He also spent time in caves, in confusion, in despair, and in running for his life.

But when God was ready, it took place. David never tried to force the issue. It became a thing of beauty.


Launching A Church

The burden for lost souls, and un-churched cities tears at all of our hearts. The reality check is that although the burden is great, planning is still important.

Suppose you move to the new town, on Wednesday, and decide to have the first service in you living room on Sunday. You don’t know anyone, you have no sign, but you have a burden. If no one shows up, you are crushed. You are sure God wanted you to come to the town, why wasn’t there a better response? Was it a premature launch?

I would never attempt to diminish your burden or dampen your spirits. The truth is, that if you went in without some basic things being in place you may not be pleased with the results you see, and you may find yourself confused, discouraged or disheartened.

Some have given up and gone back home feeling ashamed and never wanted to do anything else for God. Others have backslidden because of their disappointment and embarrassment. But it wasn’t God’s faults. It was just a premature launch.

Much can be said about having the guidance of your pastor, and his moral support through the process. His blessing on you makes it easier for other pastors to give you the much need moral support. The prayers and blessings of the mother church is a Godsend and  necessity.

I would advise you to only go, when you have your pastor’s blessing on your launching of the new church. I would wait until he gives the green light. I wouldn’t tell him I was going; I would ask him to tell me, when it was time to go. There’s a big difference.

Oh, and may I be the first to say, “May God bless in your work for God. Bless you for doing it right, and for doing it in God’s time, not yours.

Written by Martyn Ballestero

October 10, 2010 at 1:16 am

The “Somewhere” Church

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In an email today I discover an article by a beloved Missionary friend of mine, Brother Brad Lambeth. He has spent his life laboring untiringly in Brazil and has done an amazing work for God. I was moved by his email and pray you are too.


The “Somewhere” Church
I just received the attached picture of a new Apostolic church… somewhere.  You see, somehow the text was deleted from the picture and I don´t know where this church is at!

The picture mesmerized my imagination!  Where is this church located? What Brazilian state? What is the name of the town?  Who is the pastor?  How many saints attend there?
Look at the picture.  What do you see?  Are you seeing what I see?

I see a lonely building… standing for Jesus somewhere in this vast Brazil.  Notice the empty background. Does that mean the building is in the country side? Probably so, especially when considering the fence on the right side. The sticks show to be discarded sugarcane stalks. Poor… very poor.
Can you “smell” the cheap paint? Yet, the thin coat of fresh paint shows so much love… and maybe a lot of sacrifice!

Notice that there are no electric wires feeding the building.  Does that mean that their lights were cut off because they did not have the money to pay the token light bill, thus having services in the dark? Or, who knows, because of the poverty, they are having (only) afternoon services?  Better yet, perhaps, the pastor chose to install the light box… BY FAITH, waiting for electrical power to reach their village!
The doors are open. The building is empty.  Does that mean they just started outreach and are awaiting the first convert… or does that mean the pastor (WHO IS HE?!?) sent the picture asking for HELP!
Look inside… can you see the homemade pulpit? While small (and seemingly frail), it speaks of Pentecostal authority!  Within a few hours (perhaps RIGHT NOW)… there will be an Apostolic preacher behind it, preaching with PASSION!

What about the mismatching chair on the left hand side, an afterthought? Or surge of faith that says “I am believing God can fill more than the white chairs… let´s go for the stars!”?

WHO IS THIS MAN OF GOD?  I don´t know his name… I wish I did!  Meanwhile, I am compelled to pray for this church “Somewhere”.  Can you join me?  You see, I can´t even ask you for an offering on his behalf… I DON´T KNOW WHO HE IS!  But we can pray!  Is your faith big enough to pray for someone you never have met… and don´t even know his name… do you have sufficient  faith to pray VICTORY on his behalf?

If you have enough faith, please pray… there is a church SOMEWHERE that needs your prayers!

Written by Martyn Ballestero

October 1, 2010 at 11:37 am