FOR THE LOVE OF THE PASTORATE
Ted J. Stephens - North End Baptist Church
MOUNT MORRIS, MI – I have just completed my fourth year as pastor of North End Baptist Church in Mt. Morris. The Lord has certainly blessed me with a wonderful group of people to pastor. In February, the church celebrated its 60th anniversary. The Lord has done many wonderful things during those 60 years. The church has always been very missions minded and has many various ministries to reach its communities. It is what I call a “regional church” as we have people from Mt. Morris, Clio, Davison, Flushing, Flint, Burton and other communities.
Pastor Ted leading Mike in Baptism ceremony. (Courtesy NEBC)
When I started my pastorate I led the church to begin a prayer list. Of course, they prayed but I wanted a list where we would be reminded weekly of who to pray for and how the Lord answered. The prayer list was divided into sections and the first section was “Those Needing Christ for Salvation”. There were other sections for members, family and friends with needs. Next to each name was the name of the person making the request, what the need was, and God’s answer to the prayer. During these past four years we experienced God’s answer to many prayer requests.
However, in the section of names for those needing salvation we did not see any answers to our prayers. In the first three years we did have salvations, children, youth and a few adults, but none from our prayer list. This past church year we baptized no one. This bothered me and many others in the church a great deal. I prayed about it. I talked to the deacons for their counsel. The Lord impressed upon me to just keep doing the basics: preach the Word, share Jesus, minister to needs inside and outside of the church, and to follow Him. He has in the past and he will always be the one to doing the saving. We are called to be obedient.
Mike Jones was one of the names on our prayer list for salvation. His name was put on the list by Terry Oliver, his brother-in-law who is one of our deacons. I know the church had been praying for Mike much longer than my four years as pastor and that Mike’s wife, Joyce, has been a longtime member of North End and very involved. She and many others have witnessed to Mike through the years, and he has faithfully attended Sunday morning worship. Over the past several months he even started attending Sunday School. His teacher, Ron Leach, told me that he made sure that every lesson had within it an emphasis on salvation.
During the past several years Mike has had some very serious health issues. The last one could have ended with his death. He told me he had decided it was time to get serious about his relationship with the Lord though he thought attending the church for 45 years and giving money should have been enough. Mike Jones, at the age of 74, found the Lord. What an exciting day it was when Mike walked the aisle of the church making his decision public. Terry commented to me that Mike was what he called a “hardcore” unbeliever. He had at times wondered if Mike would ever be saved. The Lord certainly showed that anyone can come to Jesus, no matter their age or situation in life. On Sunday, December 27, 2015, I baptized Mike and three other new believers.
Now on our prayer list, next to Mike’s name, where is states, “God’s Answer to Prayer” we have written “Answered”. He is the first on our prayer list to be saved but we are believing we will be able to put “Answered” next to many more in the days ahead. The Lord is always good-very good!