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Pastor Rob Patterson    653 A Street   Galt, California   (209)  745-4665

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Bedtime.    Waiting for a story.

“Daddy won’t you tell me 'bout when you were very sad man?”

“Jo-Jo, I was once a sad man. For years I hadn’t listened…
Instead of doing what was right, I chose to walk into the night. I froze there;
It was so cold there…till I cried out:

“Jesus, as a child I once believed in You…but for years I’ve found it hard to…
Found it hard, Lord, to believe in You,
but now I know, Lord, I’m in need of You to save me from myself tonight. 

Lord, save me from myself tonight.”

 Joseph, Jeremiah, Daniel (Mary Angelia)

“Jesus, eternally my Savior.  He is ever interceding for me and supplying all my need according to the riches that are His in glory.
And if you’re waiting to be told the story, Son, listen to your own tonight…
  Son, listen to the Lord tonight.  Tonight.”

Friday, September 30, 2005

Here is an article that challenges everything
Rick Warren has done with his Purpose-Driven model and the piloting of his P. E. A. C. E. plan. Like most baptists in a business meeting, I usually wanna hear the pros and cons of a motion. I think its important to hear the best points that your opponent can make in a debate.

Rick's acronym rightly describes what our city-wide participation with World Vision (Lesotho) is accomplishing. Likewise, it helps me to differentiate aspects of our practical ministry toward the brethren in Liberia.

Matthew 25 has always spoken this to me:
It is 'normative' for a Christian to assist the poor and care for the sick.

SO NORMAL, that we ask "When? When, Lord? WHEN did we minister to you in these ways...?"

As I have prepared to preach the points of
      "Our Parallel Path to P. E. A. C. E." the influence of dissenting voices has challenged me to search the Scripture for the key verses that have stirred up good works and mission. So, if you want a balanced view of everything before you decide what is the baby and what is the bathwater, click above and below. Then, pray before you GO.

I just saw an article about Kay Warren's involvement in the development of the global P.E.A.C.E. plan.
Click here if you'd like to read it.

I spoke with Joe Walker yesterday. His wife is currently in Liberia with a team of retired educators. Beverly Walker is fulfilling a dream she has pursued for 15 years. Al Warren sent me their story at the beginning of the week because it touches on the theme of the upcoming sermon:

      'Educating the Next Generation.'

If you have time read Beverly's story:
Click here

I share the story because it demonstrates a model that I foresee happening among small groups of Christians in the years to come.

Last night I met with the other pastors in Galt and we discussed plans for another city-wide morning worship service in May of 2006. Our churches are cooperating in the sponsorship of over 300 individual children from one Area Development Project in Lesotho. This is an important commitment that connects our members on several unseen levels.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

I don't have much that I feel free to write about this morning. There are some important matters mentioned earlier this month (see below). Some other hopes I have for the near future are percolating but nothing I should mention yet.

A friend just called to let me know that her sister passed away suddenly. So, I'm thinking about the grief that she is going through today. I feel sorry for her.

Cathy and I are going on a date this afternoon. She enjoys hanging out with me.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Liberia's election is October 11th. Here is a message for voters among Liberian youth. For the rest of us, it offers us an opportunity to watch and pray for the future of this war-torn nation: click here.

Just got off the phone with R. B. McCartney, reporting from a Texas Air Force Base where he and Pete Cowan are serving with California's Disaster Relief Team. He described long, hard days of work. Pete started a job driving the forklift (and those hours are even earlier). He is happy to be serving the Lord this way. He also mentioned that gasoline was $2.60 down there.

I enjoyed going to last night and  giving Jim Fugate a quick trip over Liberia and above the streets of Monrovia via satellite photos. I have invited a few people to consider traveling to Liberia in the upcoming year.

When I left the grounds, there was a full parking lot (the city-wide choir had gathered, our long-range Vision Committee was meeting, and Habitat for Humanity held a meeting in our Fellowship Hall).

From there, I headed to 'Someplace Fun' for Family Fun Night hosted by our Sunday School. That was a good time for me--sitting and talking with the McCalls as we watched a building full of kids running around having fun! We had to yell the whole time but our conversation was quite fruitful.

These kinds of activities stir up the optimism within me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Here's a small shot of the four children that God has entrusted to Cathy and me. All four are currently teenagers. Today, I'll tell you about our third son, Daniel (17). He is attending a charter school in Sacramento and does well in his classes.

Daniel was excelling at extracurricular wrestling last year but our local school l
ost its coach. This charter school has a Judo program. Daniel has been taking the extra class in Judo after school. We're all happy that he is a natural!

Daniel, Mary, Joseph, and Jeremiah

Although we have chosen to send Daniel and Mary to a charter school, we want to support the upcoming bond issue to build a new high school in Galt.

CLICK HERE for more info:

Monday, September 26, 2005

Talk around the prayer table seems to be heavily involved with 'in'-courage-ment. I called to our son, Jerry, before he left this morning,

"Hey kid, I'm proud of you!"

He has worked his early-morning, full-time job with consistency since he started several weeks ago. He told me that he is trying to get some other guys to apply for the same type of work with his company.

Joe called me last night. He was working in the group home until midnight. Likewise, I'm happy that the Lord has provided a full-time (35 hours) job for him. He is managing to simultaneously attend CBU full-time.

Last night I shared from Paul's letter to the Galatians in order to track some of his relationships with other church members over time.

He mentions having spent fifteen days with Peter. I voiced how much you can learn about a person by staying with him fifteen days.

Last night we considered the potential that our California Missions Offering could have on the future of co-laboring with Christ. I referred to the recent Disaster Relief training that Pete and R. B. had received. Days later they were called to go to Texas to prepare and serve food.

Although they are in their seventies and have rich lifetime experiences under their belt, they will be challenged and will grow during this mission trip. Like Peter and Paul, they will learn more about each other during this period of time. Last summer, I shot this picture to remember a local service project they performed--digging holes for volleyball poles. I view that specific activity as part of the preparation process for the mission they are currently undertaking.

They would probably be 'encouraged' by hearing that a group of teenagers gathered last night and played volleyball. As well, the same group was instructed in the Word of God.

Tomorrow, Cliff Hoff will return  from his mission trip to the New Orleans area.

Terry Shepherd told me about an increase in supply for the food pantry she is overseeing.

The 'love-in-a-shoebox' season is upon us. Click here to see the photos from last year.

Local projects bring individuals together who may be called upon to work together in greater causes sometime in the future. My hope is that this column will encourage others to connect with someone for prayer, mutual encouragement, and mission endeavor.

        Our Parallel Path to P. E. A. C. E.

C = Caring for the Sick

Sunday, September 25,
I will preach only once in the morning. We'll have Bible Study for all ages at 9:00 a.m.

At 10:00, we will share a combined service and consider the healing ministry implied in the Great Commission. Then, we'll have a 'potluck' lunch together. I hope you'll come join us.

God Will See Us Through: fbcgalt audio-salve

more: In Leroy Gainey's Leadership class (1996), I wrote a personal mission statement that included this point:

      "I want to be a member of
                  a missionary-sending church."

Our little church in Galt has continually been involved in 'sending' individuals back and forth to settings outside the four walls of our building. The trips taken thus far have certainly built 'character' but they have also been costly. We should keep our worldwide mission methodology on the altar.  We should also continually invite individuals to step aside from the mainstream of our culture until we know that we're obeying the Great Commission.

A more prolific writer addresses my issue: click here

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Tempted to sleep-in rather than attend early morning prayer, I'm happy I chose the latter. Many important matters were brought to the roundtable prayer meeting. Without that prayer time I would probably be overwhelmed with the weight of unyielded concerns.

During the morning I've been reading from another book by K. P. Yohannan. These books were being freely distributed at the Spirit West Coast festival. I don't know much about this man--other than Karen and David Mains had embraced his ministry and that Erwin Lutzer wrote the foreward for the two books I've been reading.

From chapter 24  New Testament Simplicity:

"I'm calling on believers everywhere to join me in a radical far-out life of simplicity that will seem crazy to many of your family and friends. You can live a greedy, self-indulgent life. Or you can choose the way of the cross, living for others as Jesus did and still calls us to imitate today."    

Again I'm reminded of a personal longing to live simply. On my first overseas trip  (Indonesia, 1995), I spent a night with missionaries living in the city of Jakarta. Their pleasantly-arranged home was sparsely furnished. I looked around and asked, "Where's all your stuff?"

The couple smiled and explained that years before they had made a decision to adopt a lifestyle of simplicity. Among their possessions there didn't seem to be much that 'rust could corrupt' or that 'the thief could break in and steal.'

During our twenty years of marriage, Cathy and I have continually made decisions which have helped us ward of the unintended consequences of prosperity and materialism.
However, we still have accumulated far too much 'stuff' for our own good.

Opinions about governmental response to two recent hurricanes visited upon our land have been widely televised. More important is the question of the individual's readiness for uncontrollable circumstances in one's life.

Watching people evacuate their homes has caused me to again consider the importance of detaching myself from unnecessary weights and hindrances. Today, older men I know (Cliff, Pete, and R. B.) are living as pilgrims in a temporary dwelling--serving the Lord with a sacrifice that has cost them something. I pray that they each man (and their wives-at-home) will experience a personal revival. May a God-centered worldview spread to others around them and through our local church.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Dave Ross (a friend from Galt's Assembly of God) traveled to a Katrina site several days ago. He wrote a letter yesterday: Click here

Cliff Hoff has been back there preparing meals and serving as a chaplain for a feeding site.

Last night I received the following note from Pastor Mac (R. B. McCartney). He and his buddy, Pete Cowan, another retired truck driver, just trained last Saturday!


Cathy and I are taking Glen Bower to the Seniors' Social this afternoon. Perhaps someone will agree to play a game of chess against him. I've been told that he was once a chess champion.

Well, I was 'googling around' looking for airline ticket availability to assist someone in going to Liberia. I suppose I'd have to warn anyone who is willing to go that there is some risk involved. I forgot.

One travel agency wasn't too optimistic:

Uncertainty After Civil War

The mess that is Liberia's civil war seems to be on the mend but the country is still no place to go for a beach holiday. There is sporadic looting as well as bursts of shooting in pockets of the country, including Monrovia. The future for the troubled West African country is uncertain, and its security situation remains volatile.

With the country recovering from years of savage civil war, travel to Liberia still poses more personal safety risks than it's worth.

Yes....and I still say,

"The safest place to be
         is in the center of God's Will."

Though Erwin McManus disagrees with me.
   He says that the center of God's Will isn't 'safe' at all!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

'Repent' might sound harsher than 'Return', but either direction to turn-around is helpful advice when we're off-course. At our Bible Study last night, Ron Shindy was asking what truths God has been revealing in our lives. The truth I'm rehearsing in these days has to do with returning to the 'first love' of an on-fire Christian experience. When asked to strum the guitar and lead some songs, I sang a medley of old choruses from the mid-eighties.

"This is the Day"    "He is Lord"
         "In the Name of Jesus"   "Majesty"
                    "Create in Me a Clean Heart"

Cathy and I had probably sung those songs hundreds of times in the early days of our ministry together. God used the words of those short songs to connect our lives with the Word and with other victorious memories in our experience.

In recent sermons I have mentioned that I am fighting the tendency to drift into becoming a crusty, 'old' christian. Last night I admitted how good it is to be around someone like Ronny. At this stage of his life he is continually reading the Word and memorizing it. He's on-fire and excited about growing in the Lord.

I was blessed to simply listen to my brothers and sisters share from their hearts about the value of getting to know each other better in that small group environment. I feel the same way. It is good to gather with like-minded believers and help each other along the way of Christian growth in the Lord.
If you're missing the joy of your salvation, I hope you'll do whatever it takes to return to the simplicity of fellowship with Him and others.

Join a Sunday School class or attend a mid-week bible study. If none fit your schedule, write me. I'd be happy to brainstorm with you about your options.

In a few minutes I plan to take a walk with my buddy Jebby. Its been several weeks since we've seen each other.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Yesterday's entry is quite important (and I've updated it), so please scroll down and spend some time thinking about the ideas presented on Tuesday, Sept. 20th.

* Joe called. He is enjoying his new job working with developmentally disabled adults (35 hours weekly) after school at CBU. See Joe's Journal.

* Jerry is working full-time. Buetler Heating and Air Conditioning; He plans to start Community College after work in January.

* Eva: Yes, you could make it from Lodi to Ann Arbor in 38 straight hours (as long as you don't stop at all along the way). A nicer drive is Day One: to Salt Lake City (stay the night); Day Two: to Lincoln, Nebraska (stay the night); Day Three: to Ann Arbor for long, cold months of suffering, loneliness, and other by-products of moving too far away from the Epicenter. (whateva)

(an excerpt from an email I received yesterday):

Dear Pastor Rob:

...when this housing project is finished, the portion we are using at the moment will be prepared to serve as a guest house for Christian friends from FBC Galt who will come for a short-term mission trip to Liberia.

Pastor, you remember I mentioned in one of my emails that FBC Galt should please send a family to visit with us every year just as the McCalls were sent. So I expect that to happen come
Feb. 2006
. Another family will come to serve for a short period.

So I'm thinking about this and decided to plan for it as it relates to the lodging aspect of families coming from the FBC Galt.


In His love,
Pastor Richard Wesley

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Jesus said,

"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower.  Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?  For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish."

Luke 14:28-30

That's an interesting verse, isn't it? It serves as a good proof-text to justify not taking risks. When one fixes her eyes ONLY upon what is SEEN, then it is relatively easy to shrug off the visionary voice with this question:

"We don't have what it takes to finish,
                                . . . so why even start?!"

Barriers and Borders  abound in the day-to-day experience of the Builder.

Costly demands
(property, materials, city ordinances, or emotional pressures and personality dynamics) seem to hinder you with the threat that there will never be enough of what's needed to finish the race God has se
t before you.

Our local church would not be viewed by most people as a 'big church.' In fact, sometimes it seems so 'small' that we find it hard to have enough workers to provide quality ministry for those who attend our church and need to be discipled. Does that describe your situation?          
Robin runs the race...

When the limitations of your organizational structure tempt you toward despair, its important to let God lift you above what you're focusing upon. There's a BIG PICTURE (a Vision) that can be seen with eyes of faith. When I get stuck, I need the practical help of a
FAITHful friend. Today, I wanna be your friend!

I woke up with the gift of faith which created a personal momentum. Let's roll . . .

One of the greatest gifts I have unwrapped in ministry came from God's invitation to be involved with a local pastor in Monrovia, Liberia. Since the day I received my first personal email from him (12-12-2002), our little church has been profoundly lifted above the limitations of our here-and-now boundaries.




We came alongside Pastor Richard Wesley
to build this sanctuary for the outreach of
           Greater Love Bible Baptist Church.

We have also provided basic necessities for a Children's Home, helped toward building a medical clinic, tried to dig a well, and (most-recently) helped the pastor's family have a home of their own.

Today, I'm sharing a few photos hoping that some other 'little' church will catch a vision and help Pastor Wesley 'finish building.' Not pictured is the foundation for a school that has been laid out behind the sanctuary and medical clinic.

I believe that one of the first steps your church could take is to 'set apart' someone to GO. I went there for three weeks. A year later a married couple went there for one month. When Pastor Wesley visited us in 2003, we went to 'big' churches looking for help. None were able to seems like it became God's assignment for average Christians from little churches.

It is hoped that someday this building will serve as a neighborhood medical clinic.
It has been built as resources have been given.
Recently it has been used to provide a form of housing for
12-15 individuals who were living together until a
fire burned down their structure.

This building still needs to be finished and those with interests in 'caring for the sick' are being asked to get involved.

The ability to provide clean water for those living at the Greater Love Children's Home has been delayed by two failed attempts to dig wells. In both cases, solid rock stopped the digging. A mechanical drill seems necessary but costs much more than hand-digging.

Pastor and Laura Wesley have eight children.
The oldest, Roland is not pictured here.
The youngest, Moses,
is introduced at the bottom of today's entry.







Abigail, Richard, Robbie, Richard Jr, Laura, Eunice, Priscilla, Ruth


Here's a photo of the extension to Pastor Wesley's home in Monrovia, Liberia. 
From what I have seen, our friends have used their resources wisely.
Richard has rarely asked for any help for his family.
I hope that they will be able to finish this home before the rainy season begins.


I hope that someday soon, Pastor Wesley's family will be visited by someone who looks at these photos.

If that happens, I would guess that the visitor(s) might have an opportunity to stay in one of these small rooms while they assist him in the work of the gospel. I pray that the visitor(s) will bring him good--not harm.

Finally (for those who are called to listen to me as a local prophetic voice),

"If we have done
something this important on the other side of the planet, we should exercise faith and do something significant right here in our own backyard."     

Tim Stevenson
once shared a pithy phrase that I believe is apropos for those who feel forced to put 'a freeze on giving'.

   ... not either/or

Here's a photo of the newest member of the Wesley Family:
Moses Wesley

Click here to see love in action for the people of Liberia

PLEASE WRITE TO ME about this burden on my heart.  (click or paste into an email)

Monday, September 19, 2005

A friend had written me a letter recently asking me about tithing. Due to a financial squeeze, she had stopped giving and asked my opinion. I wrote back and shared my own simple testimony that God has told us to test Him in this and to watch for the windows of heaven to be opened.

Today, she wrote back and told me that God had given her the desire to resume giving her tithe. She also mentioned someone else's opinion that giving of one's time was equivalent to tithing. I quickly responded to her note and thought that maybe you would enjoy a simple word of encouragement in this matter of giving and receiving:

I address the issue of tithing carefully because of the great ability we each have to poke holes in others' theories and interpretation of Scripture.

You know, though, the law of the harvest is that you will reap 'what' you sow.

Perhaps if you sow 'time' into others' lives, then that's what will come back to you 30, 60, or 100 fold. I figure that the times I've invested myself into the lives of other people will somehow come back to me as God sends laborers to invest in the lives of people I personally care about (but am unable to reach).

As for money...well, I don't trust my ability to rightly handle 100% of all I receive. In fact, even after tithing, I still mismanage some of the 90% that remains...

Therefore, I will stick with tithing as a discipline wherein I'm saying to the Lord, "I need You, Jesus. I'll give you the firstfruits and trust that You'll bless me beyond what my natural abilities could produce. I trust
You'll take care of me--no matter what lies ahead. I believe that you have continually opened the windows of heaven. Thank You, Lord."

Is a legalistic teaching on tithing the best way to instill courage to trust God? I believe that personal testimonies of trust and humble obedience work better to encourage others in the process of becoming cheerful givers.

If you take a simple 10 cents off of every dollar, it doesn't seem like much. Pennies are sometimes discarded by Americans. I find pennies (even dimes) on the street all the time. I stop and pick them up. With that perspective, a simple dollar off the top of a $10 increase doesn't seem like that much either.

$100 off the top of a thousand is no different than pennies, dimes, or single dollar's all relative. Its simple.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Last week I read K. P. Yohannan's book entitled Revolution in World Mission. It was being given away at the music festival: Spirit West Coast. Mr. Yohannan challenges western Christian to provide for native missionaries in India (and Asia). I won't comment upon his major points but he certainly makes the reader consider his ways.

Today I preached about giving to the poor. We read and considered questions stirred up by five different passages including John 12. In this scene, Lazarus is reclining at the table with Jesus, Martha is serving, and Mary is found pouring a pint of pure nard on Jesus feet:

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected,

"Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages."

He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

I made several observations about this passage but one involved considering the actions of each named character (Martha, Lazarus, and Mary). Finally, I questioned if Judas had lied for so long that he trusted the mixed motive behind his words.

The 'disciple' who offers the opinionated question has been making poor financial decisions himself. Instead of trusting God for his provision, he has become a thief. His character has disintegrated. From that perspective he condemns Mary's gift as being too generous--wasted on Jesus.

In my sermon preparation, I was reminded that the Great Commission involves 'making disciples' and teaching them all about Jesus and obedience to His Word. In that passage, I am reminded that we will never stamp out poverty or suffering.

'You will always have the poor among you.'

However, I don't wanna listen to the fool's opinion that we must 'put a freeze on giving.'

For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.

James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
                                                              Galatians 2:6-10

I hope that as each of us 'go' to the mission field to which we are called, we will remember the poor and treat other people the way we would like to be treated.

Update:  So far, 15 people have stopped by to pray for our nation in the aftermath of Katrina. President Bush has set today apart as a National Day of Prayer.

 Joe just added a journal entry.

So did Al Warren...

Iona apparently thinks that I'm worthy of a very special honor--something about Grace....hmmm....

Friday, September 16, 2005

As of 6:20 a.m. there are 1,428 prayer groups in California praying in accordance with the President's request for a National Day of Prayer. There were 15,237 registered across the nation at this time.

I checked the Presidential Prayer website and
found these links. I'm in our local church sanctuary until 6:00 p.m. Join me if you're able.

View the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance Prayer Resources.

Well, onward for a day of prayer. I pray that your day will be blessed and that you will turn your worries into prayer.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I've had back-and-forth emails with a few precious people this week. These interactions are mutually encouraging. One sister feels 'distant' in her relationships--including her relationship with Jesus. Last night at Bible Study, a new believer (Tony) was asking what we envision when we talk to God. That very question was used to cause the rest of us to testify about our personal relationships with Jesus.

I think my close (intimate) conversation with God comes as a direct contrast to the distance I felt for many years. Today, I will talk to Him as a close friend who has promised that He will ALWAYS be with me.

During this day, I expect God to speak to me (through 'show and tell'). The Word of God (the Bible) will be stirred up in my mind and heart and will be helpful to interpret the world around me.  I enjoy small group Bible Study because it allows me to hear from several people as they seek to know God better. God uses them to speak to me. My love for them grows and I am drawn even closer to God as a result.

Tomorrow, I'm participating in the National Day of Prayer for our nation as we respond to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Our sanctuary will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. if anyone wants to stop by.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Another day: It is important for many people that we simply 'show up' today. Whether our role is 'to parent', to serve the community, to buy-and-sell, to search-and-rescue (whatever). Future decisions will be made based upon the relationships we each develop with people today.

Yesterday's responsibilities were helpful to my getting a fresh perspective on two broad areas of concern. Again, I tasted of the challenge to provide quality education for high school students in our growing city. My visit to a crowded classroom as a substitute teacher renewed my respect for good leadership in that setting. The 10th grade English classes were well-behaved as they followed my instructions in supporting their teacher's lesson plans. I think that this speaks well of the 'authority' their teacher exercises in their lives.

I have a hope my small contact with local teenagers yesterday was a source of encouragement for each of them. Those in 'English as a Second Language' were with me for two sessions. Hopefully, I will connect with some in the community as their last years in high school unfold. One of the boys whose parents once came to our church got online after school and found me on He asked me to 'add' him as my friend.

Last night's interaction with associational churches in our region was also engaging. I had a brief discussion with the pastor of the English-speaking congregation about an idea I have entertained for a future mission project. awat Several points-of-interest kept me thinking into the night as I drove home from the meeting Stockton.

On the way home, I spoke with Cathy on my cellphone. She had attended the first rehearsal for the upcoming Christmas musical being coordinated among the local churches in our town. Unseen glory is being given to God by those who minister under the authority of Christ's Name in this town. By our cooperative effort through World Vision, we are making a major impact on hundreds of families in Lesotho. The practical matters of public health, education, and farming are continually being addressed in the midst of the work of local pastors we met while we were there last February.

Ron Sorrell would encourage us to 'show up.' "Today, go where God sends you; do what He tells you to do." That's some good advice from an old friend who has gone on ahead of me.

For those interested in next month's elections in Liberia, you may want to read this report that I received this morning. Gabriel Williams now lives in Sacramento, California. I met him through one of our local church members a couple years ago. Mr. Williams was a noted journalist in Liberia and wrote an important book on Liberia's civil war: Heart of Darkness.

Gabriel recently traveled to Liberia with a delegation which was investigating the election process there. Click here to read the report. I know very little about those who served on this delegation. Their findings and recommendations may help us better understand what issues Liberians face as they try to move onward with democracy.


JUST ADDED: I called to check on news about Tom Neal and was surprised to hear his voice. He just flew in from Louisiana and now has to go check in with his unit.

Tom and Connie have given up so much in order to fulfill his commitment to the National Guard. He served in Iraq in a major leadership position. Then, he was called up again to provide security for Katrina aftermath. Following is an excerpt from a letter that Connie wrote at my request a couple weeks ago. Perhaps someone out there has a lead for them in this stressor for their future housing.

" . . . my husband Tom was activated with his National Guard M.P. unit to New Orleans.  His expected return is unknown.  Please keep my hero in your prayers.

     I would also ask that in your prayers you ask that God help us with our own housing issue.  We have been renting our current residence for six years and we were given a 30 day notice the day Tom was activated.  It came as a big surprise that our landlord is selling this residence.  Our hope is to purchase either an acre of land and have a modular home put on it or find one pre-existing.  If that is not possible we would like to find a three bedroom home in this area within the mid $300,000 range.  Unfortunately our price range limits our choices, but God willing we will find that perfect place to call home.  Your prayers and any information you might be able to provide would be so appreciated.  Much love to you all.  Your sister in Christ,

Connie Neal  

Please respond by emailing Connie at

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Today, I've agreed to be a substitute teacher at our local high school. A couple years ago I took the CBest test so that I would be qualified to serve in this capacity. I will meet hundreds of teens today as I attempt to fulfill the lesson plans for a 10th grade English teacher.

I will start each class by introducing myself then I will look into the eyes of each young person as I hear the responses to roll call. The last time I taught in the high school, I displayed the Liberian flag and the photograph of a Liberian 10th grader. I told the classes that my day's pay would go to help that young lady finish high school.

I haven't taught there since Galt's pastors went together to Lesotho (in Southern Africa). Today, I will display that flag, photos of some Lesotho children and  briefly describe the plan for Galt residents to sponsor hundreds of kids from that country. I'll also tell them that I'm designating today's pay toward meeting the needs of our sponsored children in the Malumeng area. I pray for discernment as I seek to maximize this small role in 'educating the next generation.'

For three Sundays, I've been the substitute teacher for teens in our Sunday School. This last Sunday we discussed the following verse written by Paul to the Ephesians. I must keep my eyes fixed on the unseen potential of this very seed which has been planted (in their lives and my own).

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

Tonight I'll be attending a Committee Meeting, then a Board Meeting for our Delta Valley Association of churches. Likewise, may God be glorified in all that comes of that commitment.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Cliff Hoff is leaving today for Covington, Louisiana to serve with other Christians from California and Arizona. The Disaster Relief Team has asked Cliff to be available as their chaplain. He also plans to keep busy preparing and serving food. The team that begins tomorrow will be replacing the first team which has been working continually from the beginning of the Katrina Crisis. This unit prepares and serves 25,000 meals a day.

Back in the early nineties I rode with a couple brothers (Bob Vergeson and Jim Krim) from Michigan to Homestead, Florida to serve on a Disaster Relief Team in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. Having already been trained, I was able to easily avail myself to serve local victims of flooding the year I arrived in this valley). I mention this as a means to encourage others to consider driving to Fresno this Friday for a one-day training event. This training qualifies participants to serve on a feeding team for any disaster that may occur.

Call Kathy Glover:
       559-229-9533 ext. #255
       in order to attend this Training Event

               Saturday, September 17
                      1:00 – 4:00 PM

     678 E. SHAW AVE. FRESNO, CA.

or click here for the 'yellow hat' video: highspeed  

The only charge is for the training manual ($5.00). Each participant will receive the yellow disaster relief hat (seen in this video). You will be required to work at a disaster relief site in one of the kitchen units sometime within the year to complete the training.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Jerry had four wisdom teeth pulled yesterday. He came home to let Mom and Dad help him though this rite of passage. Cathy and I also went to the GHS Football Game last night. That is an interesting community experience. Having been here for so many years its interesting to see how many people I recognize. Several individuals came to us to remind us of sometime when we had met them.
Longevity in ministry has its moments (multiplied...).

Macdonald Wreh took his test for Certified Nursing Assistant. He passed the skills portion but just missed passing the written test. He will try again next Thursday.

Joe Patterson reports that he interviewed for a job in a home for developmentally-disabled adults. He will work a 2-9 shift five days a week while attending University full-time. Cathy and I both worked similar jobs earlier in life. Joe seems to have given the challenge some serious thought.

 Pastor Mac just told me that President Bush has called for Friday to be a national day of prayer. Here's more:


Throughout our history in times of testing, Americans have come together in prayer to heal and ask for strength for the tasks ahead. So I've declared Friday, September the 16th, as a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance. I ask that we pray -- as Americans have always prayed in times of trial -- with confidence in His purpose, with hope for a brighter future, and with the humility to ask God to keep us strong so that we can better serve our brothers and sisters in need.
--George W. Bush

Click here for Presidential Prayer Team

Click here for the bbc report on Katrina

 Below is a letter from our friend, Richard Wesley:

September 9, 2005

Attn: Pastor, Deacons and members of FBCgalt.

Dear Christian Friends:

On behalf of the Deacons and members of the Greater Love Bible Baptist Church of Liberia, I want to say to you from the day we heard of the disaster that hit the people of America, our hearts have been sorrowing. In our spirits, with heavy hearts, we are going through this with you daily.

This Sunday we will have a period of silence in our church in a way of expressing our sympathy for all the Natural Troubles that have come upon America. May the Lord grant all the bereaved family refreshing consolation and the peace of God be upon them.

Please remember that we in prayers with you all daily as this tempest will soon pass over, and it’s our prayer that God’s peace will be restored again to the peoples of America.

May God Bless America.

Pastor Richard Wesley

'oops! I did it again'  When you have to explain a joke, one wonders what unintended consequences could arise. Well, I guess it does give me something to reference from a couple days ago: this newsletter. 
click here for a most unusual 'story'

(that site is satire, friends)

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Parenting has been wearing on me during the last couple weeks. However, in the midst of these growth seasons, we're also faced with other issues that pull in different directions. I'm simply listing a few below so I might be able to see the big picture when I look back from a mountaintop sometime in the future.

On Tuesday, we had our monthly meeting at Royal Oaks and gave these senior citizens the best we had in friendly outreach. Afterward, I met with several of the Baptist pastors in our Association. Our cooperative effort from across the U.S. (40 Disaster Relief Units) are providing the meals for Red Cross efforts in the south.

On the local level I just learned that Iona and Richard have networked with their former local church in Alabama to provide a home for a displaced family.

Our own R. B. McCartney is currently making plans to drive to the area in his motor home, park at a local church, and somehow minister to the practical needs around him.

Connie Neal called yesterday and said she had received one response to her letter (see Tuesday's entry below). Unfortunately, it was one of those 'scam' offers for an overseas gift to be deposited in her account. Poor Connie hadn't ever experienced that before. I had to break the news to her that there really wasn't half-a-million dollars waiting to meet her needs. Messages to Tom, who was called up (again!) can be relayed by Connie. If you would want to write them an authentic letter of encouragement, here's the address:

Yesterday, our local pastors met with Administrator, Tom Gemma. He fielded questions about an upcoming bond issue for an additional high school. I was reminded that our school was built for 900 students and now has 2,100 enrolled. Our two youngest teens are going to a charter school for this very reason. That has not been an easy decision. Since coming to this town, I've tried to get to know the young people. One of my methods is to serve as a Substitute Teacher at Galt High. I can speak firsthand about the challenges that come with overcrowding. For more information about the new high school, click here:

Trying to stay connected (horizontally and vertically), Mary and I went to a midweek Bible Study at the Greene's last night. Doug Shepherd played the part of a seeker and asked basic questions of us. It was interesting to hear various members of that group address the seeker's questions. What is Sin? What does it mean to be Saved? Saved from What?

Joe arrived at California Baptist University and is sharing a housing unit with four other young men. We haven't heard much from him but trust that all is going well.

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

As in other 'times and seasons', I am humbled by my emotional distance from the suffering of Katrina's victims. Early on, I heard a soundbite where the mayor of New Orleans was cussing in his frustration. I played the part of 'the judge' and voiced my lack of respect for those who were complaining and blaming others. Last night Cathy and I watched Oprah's walk around New Orleans with the mayor. It was an eye-opening experience for me. I saw the same man choked up about the violence and sexual assault that had taken place in the Superdome.  

As one who has been at the forefront of challenging others to give and to sacrifice, it is difficult for me to see myself standing on the sidelines. For some reason I am being given an opportunity to see my casting of irrelevant opinion for what it was.

Jebby's musical, 'Brothers,' includes a song called 'Times Like These.' Times like these bring out 'the best' and 'the worst' in us. I wanted to only hear 'good news'--those stories of heroism and sacrifice. Instead, I kept hearing the 'bad news' of sin and self-centeredness. I pray that the Lord will use this national tragedy
however He chooses to convict me (and others) of our human condition. 

I just saw a news clip about Bear Creek Community Church in a nearby town. They raised $20,000 in freewill gifts to send for Hurricane Relief. Someone broke into their church and stole offering (actually they carried off the entire safe). Bad news.

Read yesterday's entry to learn of Tom and Connie Neal's personal sacrifice for our neighbors. Good news (bittersweet).

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

I just got off the phone with Connie Neal. Her husband Tom was called to New Orleans to serve as military police. Here is a letter she wrote to me today.

September 6, 2005

Dear Church Family,

     In case you have not heard my husband Tom was activated with his National Guard M.P. unit to New Orleans.  His expected return is unknown.  Please keep my hero in your prayers.

     I would also ask that in your prayers you ask that God help us with our own housing issue.  We have been renting our current residence for six years and we were given a 30 day notice the day Tom was activated.  It came as a big surprise that our landlord is selling this residence.  Our hope is to purchase either an acre of land and have a modular home put on it or find one pre-existing.  If that is not possible we would like to find a three bedroom home in this area within the mid $300,000 range.  Unfortunately our price range limits our choices, but God willing we will find that perfect place to call home.  Your prayers and any information you might be able to provide would be so appreciated.  Much love to you all.  Your sister in Christ,

Connie Neal  

Please respond by emailing Connie at

Monday, September 5, 2005

Server problems again....oh well, finally got this message online. It's Labor Day Monday. At 9:30 a.m. Joe drove southward on I-5 for his second year of college. It will be 320 miles before he has to refer to the next bit of mapquest directions that good ol' Dad provided.

Several of our friends at church are helping us out with the 'empty nest' it comes upon Cathy and me.

Tom Lane and I went for a VisionWalk at 6 this morning. Before we parted company, he prayed for Cathy and me and this particular day of 'sending' our firstborn off again. Its been good to have Joe around during the month of August. I appreciate the ministry our church has had in his life thus far.

Yesterday, Jerry played the drums for the second service. Again, as a Dad I was pleased to know that this 18 year old was serving a body of Christians as they sought to worship God together. During that time of hearing my boy play his instrument skillfully before the Lord, I thought of Kevin Kiel and the gifts (and abilities) he brings to the altar. I wanna encourage those who are passing from adolescence to adulthood: your church 'needs' you.

Therefore, those who will read this column in the months ahead should understand that I am gonna be proactive about reporting the potential I see which is being entrusted to younger people. If you haven't seen it yet, check out this website that Joe's friends shared with him. Food for thought:

'Perfect Pastor Found to be Dead'
Truth is stranger than fiction: Click Here

There are some other interesting 'stories' worth reading. If you like any in particular write and let me know. It will give me insight about 'who' you 'are.'

Saturday, September 3, 2005

'Perfect Pastor Found to be Dead'
Truth is stranger than fiction: Click Here

Tomorrow will be Joe's last day with us before he leaves for fall semester at CBU. Jerry will play drums during the second service. I hope you'll decide to connect with a church family tomorrow.

Friday, September 2, 2005

We've had internet server problems at our home no updates. Now, it looks like I've learned what to do next time we're shut down. Living and learning on the Information Super Highway.

I wanted to report that Cathy and I had quality time last night with all four of our children. I photographed them as a foursome, we had supper together, and then went to see MacDonald Wreh's apartment in Sacramento.

We are all very proud of how hard he has worked since he came from Liberia last October. He lived with us for a few months. I've been so pleased to learn of ways that various individuals have reached out to help this brother.

Last night I was really touched by seeing the furniture that our friends from Galt United Methodist Church have donated and delivered. I'm humbled as I see the fruit of so many Christians all around me. I hope I, too, will be used by the Lord during my remaining time on Earth.

a letter from church members who moved on . . .

Aloha Pastor Rob,

We have finally been able to send an Email to you and the church. We have not had much free time with unpacking and getting the house situated. But we have arrived on the "Rock" and are adjusting quite well. We have been thinking about our time at FBC and the spiritual growth and encouragement that we received as members there.

First of all, Pastor Rob, we want to thank you for personally investing your time and energy into our family from the first day we visited FBC. Three years ago, we felt God leading us to your church, and by following God's will, we experienced a ton of love and support from our church family.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to work with the youth. The challenge of youth ministry allowed us to grow in ways we never imagined. We developed skills we didn't know we had.

Thank you for the "Send Off" in July, we sure felt loved and know that when we get the chance to come back to Galt to visit we would feel that same connection. So, now we're here, and we have spent the last three Sundays at a new church near us and it will probably be our new church home. It seems to have a strong Sunday School program which we learned the importance of from you.

The girls are adjusting well. Violet loves her new (pink) room and her new pets (koi fish). Lily recently experienced her first mouthful of sand (and loved it)! Tyler is just now ending his 5 week vacation and preparing to meet his ship the USS Chosin in the Persian Gulf in the next few days or weeks. This transition will be difficult for us, considering that the last deployment we went through was 6 years ago and that was before having our girls. Please keep us in your prayers as he will be gone for 5 months.

While Tyler is gone, Gina plans to have many visitors from our family and friends. Gina and the girls will also visit Galt for 3 weeks around Christmas time, so please make sure you leave room on our old pew for us. We love you guys and look forward to visiting you whenever we can make it back to the "Mainland."

Aloha and Mahalo,

Tyler, Gina, Violet, and Lily Wardlaw

P.S. Please share this with the congregation

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Pastor Rob Patterson    653 A Street   Galt, California   (209)  745-4665
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