FENTON, MI – August 7, 2014, my wife, Jamie and I attended an important event in the life of New Beginnings Baptist Church in Dodge City, Michigan. Two roads converge at the church’s site and an ever-flowing pipe provides refreshing water for everyone from an artesian well three feet from the church building. The church is seven miles east of Harrison, Michigan. That morning, I knelt, at the altar, beside a young boy named Michael. He might be 12 years old. He wore a t-shirt with a camouflage pattern, shorts, and tennis shoes. Pastor Alan LaVigne invited anyone who wanted to come to the altar at the beginning of worship to silently pray while pastor voiced the congregation’s requests and gratitude.
My parents tell me that when I was very young, 4-9 years old, that I had a keen interest in all things God, church, and ministry. I don’t recall the early events they recount today. But I believe them because in 1977 I experienced an undeniable call to ministry. On this recent August 7, I knelt beside Michael because I saw his intense interest in all things God. What’s more, I saw Pastor Allan and his wife, Vilna, love and guide people as if they were their children, whether they were young or old. Preschoolers twirled in place as Vilna led worship. Pastor Allan gently hushed a little boy who was getting a little noisy trying to get the attention of a little girl. The young father of that toddler admiringly watched as Pastor Allan quieted his son without stress. We watched and listened all day long as Pastor Allan shared pearls of wisdom from God’s Word with his loving congregation.
I also enjoyed seeing the rewards of others who had invested in this church plant. Pastor Bruce Winter of Sunrise Church in Midland, Michigan was the “sending pastor.” That means that Winter and Sunrise, two years ago, had accepted the responsibility of praying for and encouraging the new church plant from start to sustained. Sunrise Church was blessed to nurture a Bible study that now has birthed into a new church.
Pastor Darren Greer is the church planting catalyst in the area. He is the man who reaches out to potential church planters and church planters providing guidance and resources, as they need them. It is important for Pastors to have someone they can turn to for godly wisdom. Pastor Allan can seek guidance and help from Darren.
Dr. David Roberts was also there to encourage the constitution of New Beginnings Baptist Church. David is the associational minister serving the local churches in that region of Michigan. He will stay connected with Pastor Allan and the new congregation and help them in any way possible. David, like the other men, craves to see lives transformed by Christ.
As I look back on that special August 7th Sunday, when a mission became a church, I remember the sound and the sight of that artesian well. An Artesian well is created by pressure from a mysterious source that pushes water up out of the ground without the assistance of a pump. That is what the people of New Beginnings Baptist Church have become. They are an artesian well of Living Water, locally and globally. John 14:4 records the words of Jesus Christ who said, “But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life,” (NLT).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony Lynn is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as lead pastor for more than six years at Crosspoint Church in Monroe, Michigan. He and his wife, Jamie, also served with the International Mission Board in Africa and in Europe.