Sunday, June 1, 2008

HOW I CAME TO LCBC

Pastor Jerry Conklin's Testimony--from the 40th ANV Notebook. Just found the notebook yesterday. And, seeing how today is our 18th Anniversary of being at LCBC, I thought I'd post it. I wrote this ten years ago for the 40th Anniversary.

"How the ministry of Lewis and Clark Bible Church has blessed my life"

Lewis and Clark Bible Church has had a profound influence on my family and over a 28 year period. Here's how .. I grew up in a family of unbelievers. Our entire family was unsaved--all the Grandmas and Grandpas and all of the aunts and uncles on both sides of the family--not a one of them knew the Savior. Sometime in the early 1970's my Uncle Bob (my Mother's younger brother) and Aunt Sara were living in Seaside. They were into the "Hippy" thing and were drinking and doing some drugs. They were lost just like the rest of us.

At that time Paul Hatt was the Pastor here at Lewis and Clark Bible Church. Some of the youth from the church were out doing door-to-door evangelism. Sue Borges and Lavonne Thompson were a part of that group. They knocked at my Uncle Bob's door and invited him to go to church. Evidently Bob and Sarah were having some kind of party at the time and laughed off the invitation, but later Bob considered it and came to church. He actually came in his dirtiest clothes and parked his truck with his loud barking dog close to the church. His plan was to see how long it would take for someone to chase him off. He was surprised, however, when people reached out to him and told him how happy they were to see him there. Somewhere along the line while he was attending this church they heard the gospel and responded and were both saved. As the story goes his long hair got shorter and shorter week by week.

Later he invited my uncle Frank, who was a bartender in Beaverton, Oregon at the time, to come to a Bible study being led by a dear man of God, Don Gillum, who is now in heaven with Jesus. Frank came, with the goal of antagonizing the Bible study leader, later he came to receive Christ as well. Both Frank and Bob eventually went on to study for the ministry and become Pastors. Bob invited me to church one day. My signature is in the visitor log. I first attended Lewis and Clark Bible Church on June 3rd 1973 as a 17 year old unbeliever. I can't remember much about that day. I vaguely remember the old converted Seed Barn. Little did I know then that I would be returning to Pastor the church one day.

After High School I joined the Navy. As time went by I became increasingly discouraged by life and increasingly more aware of my sin. I was fairly certain that there was a God, but I didn't know anything about Him and certainly did not know about His Son Jesus Christ. My Uncle Bob and Uncle Frank and Aunt Becky (who was also saved by this point) were burdened for me and were praying for my salvation. About this time some other friends on board the submarine started attending Faith Baptist Church in Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii. They had also demonstrated a change in their lives. I started attending with them. I had attended other churchs before, but there was something different about the people at Faith Baptist and there was a difference to what they were teaching. It was there that I first clearly understood that God had provided a means of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. One day Lee Stitcha, a Marine who was involved in the Navigator's, took me aside and explained how I could know Jesus in a personal way. Soon afterwards I trusted in Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord.

Two things from that period in my life stand out in my memory--I had a sense of inner peace in the knowledge that my sins were forgiven (it felt as if a huge burden was lifted from me) and I had a great appetite for reading God's word. I would spend hours at a time reading the Bible. It was all new to me. I didn't know the Old Testament from the New Testament. Prior to that time I didn't know who Jesus was. I didn't know anything about who Israel was or what the cross stood for. I was completely ignorant. I got a hold of a Navigator's Scripture Memory Verse Pak and started memorizing Scripture. My life began to change.

When I got out of the Navy I went to work at Trojan Nuclear Plant. Eventually I found myself at Yankton Baptist Church in St. Helens, Oregon. That is where I met my wife Laura. Her genuine love for God and servant-mindedness continue to inspire me to this day. Eventually I became a senior Training Specialist in the Training Department, a good paying job with a good future. But, more and more I was feeling led to go to Bible School. By this time I was serving as an elder at St. Helens Bible Church and I sensed the call to full time ministry. In 1987 I decided to resign my job at Trojan so that I could train for ministry at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary. My boss appreciated me and wanted to keep me around so he made special arrangements so that I could continue to work part-time in my salary job while 1 went to school. This arrangement, together with my Veteran Benefits helped to pay for my education.

I appreciated my time at Seminary but was anxious to get started in full-time ministry. I had no idea to where we might be called to serve, but was determined to trust God in the matter. As the end of Seminary drew near I applied to and was accepted by Northwest Independent Church Extension as a prospective missionary Pastor. We invited the director, Dr. Roy Sprague, over for dinner one day. He talked to us about all of the various churchs in N.I.C.E. and those needing Pastors--I was impressed by his knowledge of all of the churchs and all of their needs. After he got done he asked us a question, "What kind of ministry do you think that God is calling you to?" I didn't have to think about it, it had been in my mind for months, and so I responded, "I believe that God is calling us to minister in a smaller church on the Oregon coast, something like Lewis and Clark Bible Church." Of course 1 didn't mean this particular church, as far as I knew the church already had a Pastor. I was merely using Lewis & Clark Bible Church as an example of the kind of location and setting that I had in mind.

Some months went by. Several possibilities were brought to our attention. For one reason or another it was obvious that these churches weren't what God had in store for us. We were beginning to get impatient as school was drawing to a close. And then one day we returned home late. There was call on the answering machine. The man had a Norwegian accent and mentioned Roy Sprague's name. It was Vic Albertsen calling to say that Roy Sprague suggested that they call to see if I could come and fill the pulpit as they would be needing to call a new Pastor! Vic's message was quite long. It took two separate phone calls to record all of it. Needless to say we were excited!

We came that first Sunday, June 1st 1990, seventeen years after my last visit to the church. Things were not the same as they had been before. There were only a dozen or so at church that morning. There was a certain sadness and discouragement in the air. The building and the parsonage were in a poor state of repair. There had been talk about whether or not the church would be able to continue. I preached my first sermon from Colossians chapter one on the supremacy of Christ. I talked so fast I doubt whether most of the folks could hear much of what I had to say. I was excited and I was scared, but when we drove away from the church that evening I turned to Laura and remarked, "That's where God wants us to be."

There were some discouraging things in those early days of the ministry. The first month's budget was $600.00. I had to work for a year or two to make ends meet. We would have Sunday evening and prayer meeting services when there would only be three or so. But God was at work, and I was confident that He had called us to the church and that we needed to faithfully serve Him regardless. My uncle Frank told me to remember two things (or maybe it was three)--preach the word, love the people, and remember that ministry is a privilege. And it has been a privilege. I count the people here at Lewis & Clark as my dearest friends. God has blessed us with unity and spiritual growth. We are a church family!.

So, as I think back over some 28 years I wonder where would my family be without the ministry of Lewis and Clark Bible Church? I suppose that God would have found another means to accomplish the salvation of my family members, but how exciting it is for me to come back to the church through which we first heard the gospel message of salvation through Christ. It gives me great delight to see God rebuild His church. I praise God for the ministry of Lewis and Clark Bible Church. The Lord has done great things for us!

Pastor Jerry

2 comments:

Amy said...

This was so great to read! I'm thankful that we now have a Godly heritage!

Ezra said...

Pastor, am so encouraged to read your testimony. Our God is so great,keep up the good work that you are doing.
God bless
Pr. Ezra from india