Sally Jo and I were very excited! My parents were coming to visit us again in Bakerville! The church was coming back to life, we had come to know some wonderful “salt of the earth” people, my school work was completed, the church had just started a nursery school, and the large vegetable garden was producing wonderful food!
During our second fall in Bakerville, Sally Jo and I went to a local orchard to buy apples. It turned out that the owner was an Elder from the church down the road from Bakerville. When asked where we were from, we told our story. He asked if we could get a minister like me for their church. What he was really saying was: “Can you find a minister who will bring our church back to life?” Their part time minister believed as little about the Bible and God’s message of Good News as the previous pastor in Bakerville had–and their church was almost dead. Pat and Mary Ann Cate, who became missionaries in a Muslim country, accepted the opportunity and the Nepaug Congregational Church came back to life.
We were working hard, we were happy, and we were excited about what was happening!
We had enjoyed wonderful few days with my parents! The day they were to leave, my mom, dad, Sally Jo, our toddler, Carla, and I were in the back yard. It was a beautiful day. We were standing near a huge willow tree, next to the sandbox I had built for Carla. Seemingly out of the blue my dad said “Chuck, when are you going to quit wasting your life – and get out of this place?” He was serious!
I was close to my parents. They had encouraged me when I struggled in school, had bought me tools, and had taught me how to work. My mom and dad helped my brother and me plan great summer experiences including summer camps, working on a farm, working as a dishwasher for Young Life, and building a house in Costa Rica for Latin American Mission. They were at all my football games. They had been missionaries in China, and now Mom taught a weekly Bible study. Mom and Dad had started the Missionary Furlough Homes Foundation. Dad was a Board Member of The Christian Medical Society, The Medical Assistance Program, Young Life, Intervarsity, and Wheaton College.
“Chuck, when are you going to quit wasting your life – and get out of this place?” He was serious. We were stunned!!!!!! This was one of those water-shed moments in our lives: Were we going to continue doing what we believed the Lord would have us to do – or were we going to take my father’s advice? We stayed in Bakerville for two more years.
The Lord continued to bless His ministry in Bakerville. At the end of four years church attendance was about 100 each Sunday, the church organization was working well together, the nursery school was at capacity, the new parsonage was built and paid for, and Chris Phillips, the young organist, was in college–the first member of his extended family to attend
We were able to participate in the selection of the next minister and his wife. George and Judy Smith stayed 34 years. When they retired, there were 3 worship services each weekend – about 500 people were involved. And there were 13 Evangelical pastors from the area meeting weekly. We were glad we had stayed!
In Bakerville we faced many challenges – some would say “tests of our faith”. We would say it was in Bakerville we gained a much greater understanding of ourselves, and of God’s ways: His guidance, His provision, and His blessing.
I live my life with two basic verses:
- “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths”. Proverbs 3:5-6. KJV.
- “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do”. Ephesians 2:10
Living In Partnership With God continues to be a challenging, rewarding experience!