I love the story of Israel. At its essence, God takes a man from obscurity and promises to bless every nation of the earth through him. Looking back, it’s easy to see how God did that by reading through the books of the Bible.
It probably wasn’t always so easy for Israel to see God’s plan in the midst of their trials. They were repeatedly admonished, always going astray, they were enslaved, their cities destroyed time and again, but always within the people was a remnant that remembered God’s covenant and faithfully kept watch over the truth of His promises.
This year, our church celebrates the 40th anniversary of its founding. Like Israel, I look at our church as coming from humble origins with the goal in mind to be used by God to glorify His name among the nations.
January 14th, Pastor Boschman came back to tell the story of the formation of LBC. As the story goes, there were a number of likeminded believing families from Shafter Mennonite Brethren Church, Rosedale Bible Church, and Heritage Bible Church that recognized a need for a church in the southwest of Bakersfield. After prayerful deliberation, they agreed to start Laurelglen Bible Church – the year was 1978.
At first, the fledgling church met at the Youth for Christ building on California Avenue January 15th, 1978 pastored by Elmo Warkentin. Soon after, Pastor Ed started his ministry at the church which had outgrown the Youth for Christ building and moved to the 7th Day Adventist Church building on Wilson.
We broke ground on the Ashe Road campus in November of 1979, and over the years, it grew into the beautiful campus we know and love today.
Like Israel, we have also had to struggle through hard times and trials as well. LBC has had its share of inner turmoil, leadership changes, and humanity’s sin-nature has been a painful reminder of our reliance on a savior. We have seen many dear and beloved members go to be with the Lord. However, we have seen God do so many wonderful things as well.
We have seen kids grow up LBC, get married, and go on to raise God-fearing families of their own. We have reached out to plant South Mountain Community Church in Utah which has since grown to three campuses and The Bridge Church in Bakersfield. We have sent out missionaries all over the world bringing the Gospel where it has never been before. In 1993, we started Children to Love International which operates in five countries now to serve abandoned children and bring them up in the Word. We have reached our community with the saving knowledge of the Gospel including the deaf community with our addition of the deaf church at LBC in 2005.
Like Israel, we can see that our sin has reminded us of where we came from. Sin keeps us humble to acknowledge that nothing good could ever come from us without the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Like Israel, our story isn’t that of a special people who are known for their amazing works. We’re a sinful and broken people with a history scarred by past mistakes through whom God has done beautiful things.
The story of LBC, then, is really just the story of God. It is His grand narrative – the story of blessing and curse, of fall and redemption, the story of Jesus who bridged the gap so that we may be called to faithfully continue the work of reconciliation. This year, let us join together in worship and awe of God who wrought good through us in-spite of us. Let us celebrate our blessings and reflect on how good and faithful our God has been to us and our church.
Furthermore, let us look ahead. As Paul wrote in Philippians 3:12, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Let us press on in the Lord looking forward to that prize that awaits us in the heaven. Let us be sober-minded in working out our sanctification laying aside every weight and sin. Let us not be content with the fruit that the Lord has bore through our church because He is not done with LBC! It is our joy and good pleasure to strive to do those works which God has prepared beforehand for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).
Thank you for our church family – the physical manifestation of your Son on Earth. Thank you for the good works you have done for us and through us. Let us continue to be faithful to walk in the Word, to obedient to our calling, and bless us in our efforts to live a life worthy of the Gospel we have received.
In Jesus name,
-Nathan, Pastoral Intern