Thank you so much for the kindness and graciousness of your friendship and love for Pam, Sarah, and me throughout 2010. As He is so faithful to do, God has blessed us so much at Calvary Road Baptist Church over these twenty-five years, with this being the most fruitful year in terms of conversions we have ever seen. This is the third year I have used this format for my newsletter, sending a card (cheaper!) to entice you to visit the church website to read the newsletter and see the pictures. Thanks for showing up. =)
We closed out 2009 in fine fashion with a wonderful cantata performed by our church choir on the evening of December 20, my annual pastors Christmas story time on the evening of the 24th, the church Christmas banquet on the evening of the 27th, and the watch night service on December 31 to close out the year. One always prays for God's blessings, though I had no idea how wonderfully God would bless our family, our church, and me in the year 2010.
January 2010 began in fine fashion. While attending a national Baptist Bible Fellowship International meeting in Canton, Ohio in September of 2009, my wife and I had the delight of hearing Pastor Lewis McClendon, who pastors in Ventura, California, deliver a wonderful missions message to the preachers in attendance. Knowing that message would be important for my people to hear I scheduled him to preach to our church, and he brought that message on January 3 during the evening service. It was a tremendous blessing. Steve Hopkins preached for me while I was in Israel the last two weeks of January. Our church has supported Dr. Ramzi Kammar’s successful church planting ministry for many years. When he married his wonderful wife Ruth twenty years ago, I had the privilege of serving as his best man at the wedding in Jerusalem. Therefore, when Ramzi asked me to visit Jerusalem on his church’s anniversary I could not say no. Fully intending to take my wife Pam with me, she instead recommended that I take Steve Grey along, since he had never before been to Israel. Two other men also joined us for that memorable trip, departing Los Angeles on January 18 and returning to Los Angeles on February 3.
February 2010 was an exciting month for me because of my involvement in missionary enterprises. I attended a Baptist Bible Fellowship International meeting in Savanna, Georgia to attend a mission field committee meeting. Then, our annual missions conference got underway, when I showed an old movie to our people recommended by Harvey Goodman on Saturday night February 20, titled “The Unfinished Task.” Our missionary speakers had arrived by that time, and I used that occasion to reintroduce them to the congregation. Harvey Goodman, Steve Grey, and Clarence Patterson were our missions conference speakers. The conference was well attended, and the banquet on the evening of February 28 was a perfect delight, with Harvey Goodman doing an excellent job challenging our people for missions. The theme was “The Unfinished Task.”
March was an eventful month, beginning with Pam's birthday on March 2, and ending with a Palm Sunday service on the 28th. My uncle, David Waldrip, was promoted to glory the previous week, so I flew to Portland, Oregon on March 22 to attend the memorial service held at his church in Beaverton, Oregon. Unfortunately, my dad was suffering from a case of the flu so I ended up staying with my Aunt Jane, David's wife. It was providential. I had the opportunity to spend time with Cousins I had not seen in more than 35 years. David and Jane’s daughters Judy, Joan, and Kim, and their son Jeff are the most gracious and kind hearted people. I love them and greatly regret the span of time that has passed without seeing them. Their father, my uncle David, was a gracious and loving man who represented his Lord faithfully. Only Joan’s husband, Robert, was unable to attend the memorial service, but God worked out a way for Pam and me to meet him. My uncle David, who taught Sunday School for many years, left a wonderful legacy, and I thoroughly appreciate the opportunity God gave to me to renew my ties with my beloved Cousins and Aunt. Our church closed out the month of March with guest speaker Chuck Ford delivering a message on March 31.
Easter fell on April 4 in the year 2010. On Wednesday evening April 7, we were privileged to host long time missionary to Japan Bill Hathaway. His is a wonderful story of a boy who was orphaned during World War II, who lived in an orphanage and was taken to a church on V-J Day, where he heard that Someone loved him and died for him on the cross. Years later, while in the military in Japan, God dealt with him about being a missionary to the Japanese. After spending most of his life in Japan, our church had the privilege of hearing of his burden for the Japanese people. On April 9, I presided over the marriage of a wonderful couple in our church, Brittany Pelto marrying Everett Moyer. The month closed out very interestingly for me, having gained access to a seminar I had been trying to take for 15 years. It is titled “The Reid Technique Interview & Interrogation Seminar.” Except for me, all the attendees were involved in law enforcement and the intelligence world. You should have seen the looks I received when it was my turn to stand and introduce myself, “John Waldrip, pastor Of Calvary Road Baptist Church in Monrovia, California.” The seminar lasted five days and involved training professionals to elicit information from cooperative individuals. During the seminar I was asked by the trainer, what differences I thought existed between the interviewing of suspects by law enforcement and intelligence specialists and the kind of interviewing that I would engage in as a pastor. My response was, “You ask questions to determine if someone may or may not be guilty of a crime. Everyone I talk to is guilty.” My primary purpose for attending the seminar was to learn if law enforcement professionals and interrogation experts had insights and skills that I was unaware of. For the most part the answer to that question would be no. The seminar, however, was very beneficial in showing the difference between interviewing a lawbreaker and interviewing a sinner. Police officers develop skills so that when interviewing a criminal they will minimize the heinousness of a crime to make it easier and more likely for a criminal to confess to the crime. The minister of the gospel, however, is tasked by God to emphasize the severity and heinousness of sin. Sadly, few preachers do that these days, while either preaching or counseling the lost.
During the month of May 2010, there were a number of very enjoyable events and one day in which I was filled with melancholy. On May 2, we had The Dartts singing for us during the evening service. Beginning Wednesday evening May 5, I showed a video series taught by Bruce Wilkerson, titled “The Secrets Of The Vine.” Our people love the series and found the truths associated with the believer’s union with Christ to be both challenging and profoundly comforting. On Saturday, May 15, I officiated the marriage of Natasha Cruz to Carlos Gonzalez. It is always a thrill, and it was a thrill when Everett married Brittany, to preside over the marriage of a young man I have seen grow up and come to know the Savior. The melancholy was on Mother's Day, when I especially missed my mom.
June 2010 was a busy month. We saw “The Secrets Of The Vine” DVD most Wednesday nights, but enjoyed Eugene Kozachenko and his family on Wednesday night June 9. Brother Kozachenko also delivered the commencement address at our Christian school graduation on the evening of June 11. Not many Christian schools are blessed to have their commencement addresses delivered by a Baptist missionary from the Ukraine. With Father's Day on June 20, we had a dads and sons breakfast at HomeTown Buffet on Saturday morning the 19th, and then our congregation traveled to downtown Los Angeles for a Sunday evening service with our friends at the Baptist Tabernacle, in anticipation of my 60th birthday. As is always the case downtown, it was a great blessing from people who are wonderful hosts. How many churches celebrate the birthday of a nearby pastor? What a blessing. I love Father's Day because I love being a dad, especially being the father of so wonderful a Christian woman as my Sarah Jane. Oh how God blessed me, and how thrilled my wife and I have been, to love, to raise, and to see come to Christ and serve God, our precious daughter. The next Sunday Steve Grey preached in the morning, I had the great privilege of baptizing four people, and Sunday afternoon we and the folks from downtown were thrilled by the preaching of my good friend David Coe, from Morgantown, West Virginia, and the great singing of friend Marvin O'Dell and his Western music band. The next day was my actual 60th birthday on 28 June.
July of 2010 was a month that was well planned out, but which turned out nothing as I had planned. Our annual summer camp at Wrightwood was held from July 5 through July 9, with God doing some wonderful things to awaken and possibly some youngsters. After we returned from camp, I continued to preach strong law sermons to the entire congregation. About a week later, I received a phone call from my good friend Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr., who asked me about camp and then asked me if I would preach a protracted meeting at his church. After some prayerful consideration, I consented. The protracted meeting began on July 22, at the Baptist Tabernacle in downtown Los Angeles. I preached Thursday evening, Friday evening, Saturday evening, and then returned to my church on Sunday. The protracted meeting continued, beginning July 26, with a number of people From Calvary Road Baptist Church attending. We saw God bless with hopeful conversions nightly. On Friday evening the 30th, we agreed to relocate the services to Monrovia, and formally combine the evangelistic thrust. The combined services began on July 31, a Saturday evening, all day Sunday on August 1, and continuing throughout the week from August 2 through August 7, with people hopefully converted in each service and with the attendance in each service increasing. Dr. Hymers preached Christ-exalting sermons on Thursday and Friday night the fifth and the sixth, with me preaching every other service. The final day of the protracted meeting was Saturday, August 8, a run of 17 consecutive days. I preached in the morning and in the evening, and Dr. Hymers concluded with a marvelous and extremely practical sermon directed to new converts to help them live their new life in Christ.
Every preacher wants to be fruitful and to see the lost come to Christ. I will forever be grateful to my God for blessing me during that slightly more than two-week span of time. Most of the people hopefully converted during that protracted meeting have conversion testimonies that have held up to careful scrutiny, and every one of them has been faithful to all the church services and outreach times. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The rest of the month of August was spent on the longest vacation Pam and I have ever taken. I had felt for months that I needed something like a sabbatical, and extended time of rest, of study, of prayer, and renewal. Though my wife and I had intended to fly, God had other plans and we drove to and from our destination. That drive enabled me to see beloved family members I had not seen in 50 years. Pam and I first drove to Albuquerque, New Mexico to see my Cousin Joan, who I had recently seen at her father's memorial service in Oregon, and to meet her husband Robert for the first time. What a great time the four of us had in each other's company. Pam and I then drove through Amarillo and Shamrock, Texas, for the first time since my grandparents died not passing through Wheeler. We continued on to Oklahoma City and stayed in a hotel, seeing my Aunt Ruth and Cousin Debbie the next day before continuing on to Kimberling City, Missouri, and the delightful company of Harvey and Linda Goodman. While staying in Kimberling City we ate very well, visited Branson, went out on the lake, and drove to Springfield, Missouri to have lunch with James O. Combs, missionaries to Africa Richard and Ann Konnerup, Bill Hathaway, and to hear Harvey Goodman preach, to hear Gary Long and fellowship with the people of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church. Susie Long is a wonderful Christian lady. We also went to Wilson Creek Baptist Church to meet in person and hear Randall Moody. We also enjoyed meeting Jackie and Tim Long.
The trip back home was a delightful experience for both Pam and me. Our first stop was in Oklahoma City once again, this time spending the night with my Aunt Ruth and Cousin Debbie, and being thrilled to listen to a woman reflect on her life of serving God as a pastor's wife and as a Christian woman called by God to teach school. Arriving on a Saturday night, we attended church with Aunt Ruth and Debbie, where my Cousin Mike Thomas and his wife faithfully attend. After church, Cousin Mike and Maryanne treated us all to a wonderful lunch. After lunch, Pam and I had to get back on the road again, this time driving to Greenville, Texas to see my friend’s brother. Several years ago, my good friend Jim Johnston and I flew to Greenville to meet his brother John Johnston, a very successful aeronautical engineer. He is a very nice man, so Pam and I swung by their in order to introduce her to him. John was a very good host, introduced us to his son, took us out to a great Mexican food restaurant, and put us up in his beautiful home. The next day, August 30, we headed out for Albuquerque, and in evening spent with Robert Bencomo, my Cousin Joan's husband. Joan was in Oregon visiting Aunt Jane, so we had Robert all to ourselves, who took us to a great Mongolian restaurant, and once again gave us very nice accommodations. Since New Mexico is the state where the atomic bomb was designed and first tested, Pam and I stopped off at a great museum on the East side of Albuquerque before continuing on our way home.
On August 31, we drove from Albuquerque to Flagstaff, Arizona and spent the night. The next day we set off for home, but soon realized that we had not yet mailed one of the church member’s birthday cards that we intended to post while on vacation. Therefore, we exited I-40 and drove through a little Arizona town, looking for the post office. As we were driving through town, with the windows up in the air conditioner on, and talk radio blaring, two men and a pickup pulled up in the lane next to me and began shouting obscenities that I could not hear. They appeared to be furious at me, and there gestures were threatening. They wanted me to pull over, but I had a better plan. I reached down into the door pocket and retrieved my new Kimber .45 semi automatic pistol. I did not hold it by the grip, or even taken out of the holster, but held it in plain sight so my new “friends” could see that I was armed. Of course, that provoked them to even greater outrage, but they saw the wisdom of driving away without threatening the old couple. We continued on our journey without Pam knowing what happened, enjoyed a delightful meal at Bob's Big Boy in Victorville, and then arrived home just as the midweek Bible study was concluding. We were rested, refreshed, rejuvenated, and I was thankful to God for my beloved family members and the time God provided for us at Harvey and Linda Goodman's place. Those two know how to host people.
Those of you in the gospel ministry know that every preacher pays a high price when he goes on vacation. He works his fingers to the bone to get ready for vacation, and then just about kills himself to get things back in shape at the church after he returns. So it was for me. Fortunately, our annual PayCheck Sunday offering on September 19 was preceded by an effective banquet the Sunday evening before, in which George Golden did what he has done so well for so many years. George Golden and I have a history. He rescued me at my first pastorate, more than 30 years ago, when he spoke for a young preacher, just starting out, whose congregation numbered 12 or 14 people. When God brought me here 25 years ago, to a wounded congregation on the verge of bankruptcy, George Golden came and showed people how to give joyfully. He is gracious, a good listener, a savvy pastor, and I commend him highly. The week after our banquet God blessed us with yet another wonderful PayCheck Sunday offering. The month of September closed out with missionary to Greece Takis Korianitis and his wife April. His message from God's Word was startling to our people in that his sermon delivery and content could very well have been mine, yet I was sitting in the auditorium listening to him. Numbers of people told me after the service that it was like hearing another man doing an imitation of me. Of course, I was blessed by him.
The month of October was a special month, being the month in which we celebrated for different anniversaries. 35 years ago, Harold C. Beigle founded Calvary Road Baptist Church. 35 years ago, Pamela Franco married me. 35 years ago, God called me to the gospel ministry. 25 years ago, I was called to become the second pastor of this wonderful church. To simultaneously celebrate all four anniversaries, we flew in my good friend Dr. R. D. Wade from Mesquite, Texas. Joining us for this celebration were our friends from the Baptist Tabernacle in downtown Los Angeles, and Pastor David Shook, who pastors in Redondo Beach, California provided wonderful country Christian music.
The month of November was special in that our daughter Sarah flew to Portland to spend some time with her Cousin Christa, and my dad and his wife. She had a wonderful time and has every intention of returning for another visit as soon as she can. Next time she hopes to make contact with Aunt Jane and Cousins Jeff, Kim and Judy.
As I dictate this newsletter on my new Dragon Naturally Speaking software, it is December 1. Much is planned at our church. We have a cantata coming up that Sarah and the rest of the choir members are diligently preparing for, the pastor’s Christmas story time that is our Christmas Eve tradition here at church, and a Christmas banquet with church people and their invited guests.
As I said at the outset, 2010 seems to me to have been the most spiritually fruitful year of my ministry. Who would have ever thought that God would graciously give a 60-year-old man his best year? I am so thankful, so unworthy, while God astounds me with each passing day. Truly did the Apostle Paul writes about God's blessings, “exceedingly abundantly above all that we might ask or think.”
Our prayer is that you might experience the communion that derives from the union a believer has with God through His precious Son, Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas!
With love and best wishes from John & Pam Waldrip