In Focus

So, we
 fix our eyes

not on what is seen but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.

 2 Corinthians 4:18

Point to Ponder
for different members of churches in Galt

There are many local churches
but only
one Church
in our generation:

The Baptist cannot say to the Lutheran, "I have no need of you";

The Horizonite
cannot say to
the Methodist, I have no need of you;

One from
Family Life cannot say to the Episcopalian,
I have no need of you;

The Pentecostal cannot say to the Baptist,
I have no need of you.

That's the way I sometimes read Paul's writing in
1 Corinthians 12.

I figure that my conviction may trouble some of you; I hope you will search the scripture with a humble heart before you decide to take up an offense against me.


Key Thoughts
the stream of consciousness:

At the Epicenter:

We are learning to share our experiences.

We are learning to share our homes.

We are learning to share life's challenges.

Philippians 4:2 Paul pleads with Euodia and Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord.

He then asks 'the loyal yokefellow' to
help these women who have both served alongside him in the spread of the gospel.

We each need to be that kind of loyal partner--ready to help restore broken  or damaged relationships for the greater good.

This kind of reflection is what best prepares us to 'take and eat' the Lord's body and to 'drink His blood' in a worthy manner.


thoughts below:

The kind of assignments God gives are God-sized.

When God's people and the world see something only God can do, they come to know God.


Obedience is doing what is commanded.


I should obey what I already know to be
God's will.


When God sees I am faithful and obedient in a little, He will be able to trust me with more.


God often gives second chances.


Sometimes He does not give a second chance.


Disobedience is costly.


God is interested in developing my character.


Affirmation comes after the obedience.


When I obey God, He will accomplish through me
what He has purposed to do.


God wants to reveal Himself
to me
and those
around me.


I will be
blessed when God does a special,
God-sized work through me.


I need to be
very careful
that any testimony
about what
God has done only gives
glory to Him.


"Let him
who boasts boast
in the Lord"

I Corinthians 1:31


I will allow Him to take all the time He needs to shape me for His purposes.


RETURN TO rob'sblog

 Wednesday, March 9, 2005

The Gathering begins the healing from home
Fish screams

By Rachael Roberts
Herald Editor

Ten churches joined together on Sunday, bringing together nearly 200 Galt faithfuls for a Sunday worship service with a purpose, to fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide.

Hundreds of Galt faithfuls filled the Galt High School Warrior Gym on Sunday morning; only they weren’t gathered to cheer on any sports team. Instead, the many hundreds had gathered to fight – to join together as one church, one voice, and one power – to fight HIV/AIDS, one child, one community at a time.
The Gathering, as it was dubbed, was intended to bring the worshipping community of Galt together for an international outreach into a tiny African town. In the end, the Gathering brought together the moral core of a local community and began the healing process at home.

“We’re here to praise the Lord and come together as one church,” said Horizon Community Church Senior Pastor Tim Stevenson. “It is amazing the Lord could use HIV/AIDS to bring us all together. To bring us together over a disease that can be stopped in a generation with the proper education, nutrition and health care needs.”
The climax of a journey that began a month ago with seven local pastors on a 10-day trip to Lesotho, Africa, Sunday’s ecumenical Sunday service served two purposes, one international and one very local.

Locally, the pastoral association of Galt has been pondering the issue of community unity and disparity for months. Seeking a divine way to bring the many compassionate and generous people of Galt together, the association found direction through a World Vision presentation on the HIV/AIDS crisis worldwide.
“I was compelled, encouraged and inspired by Steve Haas of World Vision,” said Stevenson, who inspired the initial local inquiry into becoming a World Vision church community.

It was Haas, the vice president of World Vision, who served as speaker and preacher on Sunday, and it was Haas who delivered the international plea to the people of Galt to hear the cries of the suffering and make personal the impact the spread of HIV/AIDS is having, and will continue to have on the entire world’s population.

“I wonder what God thinks when he looks on something like this,” said Haas. “This is the church of Galt. Something for which we lend our voices, minds, hearts and talents.”

With 250,000 people dying each year from AIDS-related illnesses, one every five minutes, Haas characterized the disease as the ‘greatest humanitarian crisis’ and said the deaths were one crisis, the resulting 14 million orphans left behind yet another.

Haas shared the story of a boy who fails to realize the heater on his fish tank has been turned all the way up and when he wakes in the morning all of the fish are dead.

“If only I had heard the fish screaming,” shared Haas. “If I had heard them screaming, I could have done something. For many years, the AIDS epidemic has been like fish screams. The stigma and prejudice – I don’t hear real well around HIV/AIDS.”

The fish are screaming. Known only as ‘the slims’ in African villages that suffer a 33 percent infection rate on average, the stigma of having HIV/AIDS even in communities plagued by the disease is paramount to social leprosy, according to Haas.

“What if 365 days a year, a 747 with 424 people on board went down,” said Haas. “How would we react to that? We lose more than twice that number each day to this disease.”
With 28 million already dead, and the average life expectancy in some African towns at a mere 35, officials expect to see 25 million orphans stranded by 2010.

“Some say the underbelly of Al Qaida is now in Africa,” said Haas. “The disaffected youth there have to have someone to follow, someone to believe.”
So how do small town citizens tackle such an ominous foe? According to Haas, by personalizing it and reducing it to people with faces, you can see the lives you can touch.

“The numbers are too much. If you don’t individualize it, you lose track of it,” said Haas. “As large as it is, if I don’t personalize it, I won’t see it. We’re going to have to see people with HIV/AIDS as an individual issue. It has to come near if we’re going to move against the disease.”

Why the church?
“Because you’re the greatest moral agency in the world,” said Haas. “You love when no one else loves, and the church has always been God’s vehicle to reach the hurting. Who will reach out and touch when no one else will touch?”
Acknowledging years of persecution against AIDS sufferers from ‘the church,’ Haas said, “The church that has been preaching sin, sin, sin, found members of their own congregations dying,” said Haas. “For too long has HIV/AIDS been relegated to self-made lepers.”
In order to take action, Haas said each one of us as the ‘world’s greatest compassionate army’ needs to do three simple things.

Become informed about the disease.
“The church has heard,” said Haas. “The key is to get the church to work now. Make a commitment that you’ll have something to say in the future about what you did to stop the disease.
“What did you do?” said Haas. “Say, I can do one. I can get the disease down to that level.”
And, be an advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness in your small groups, families and communities.

“That’s how you destroy a disease,” said Haas, “one child, one community at a time. That’s how the ripple of love and compassion goes forward.”

                      Wednesday, March 2, 2005

The Gathering

Nine Galt churches together
on a quest for healing


By Teresa Pearson

Staff Writer 
   On Sunday, March 6 at 10 a.m., nine churches will join in faith to fight against HIV/AIDS in Lesotho, Africa with a journey that began in Lesotho at the first of the year and that begins in Galt with an all community assembly in the Galt High School Auditorium. Come join the beginning of an international outreach effort like no other.   

   Inspired by what Horizon Community Church Pastor Tim Stevenson said was a call from God, seven local pastors traveled to Lesotho, Africa on Jan. 30 to see what they could do to help those in need in the AIDS torn African community.

   Galt Pastors Frank Mack and Rick Keiser II from Family Life Christian Church, Rob Patterson from First Baptist Church, and Mary Sanders from Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church joined Horizon Youth Pastor Kevin Brown, Elder Randy Holtz and Stevenson on the three week excursion to Africa.

   Each will share of their experience in Lesotho and their vision for Galt's assistance from so far away. Members of each church will gather together on Sunday to learn of how a single community in America can become the salvation of hundreds of children in a community plagued with disease and further burdened by a lack of education, drought and an absence of material resources.   
                           CLICK HERE for entire story       

Pastors' Vision Trip
     to Lesotha (Southern Africa)

From January 30 through February 11th, several pastors from Galt went to Lesotho in southern Africa.
Our intent was to bind our hearts and minds together (across denominational and historical barriers) and minister together to precious souls who have been devastated by AIDS.

On this map of Africa you can see an outline of  a small, land-locked nation called Lesotho (in Southern Africa). We visited several sites in an ADP (Area Development Project) called Melemeng.

        February 14, 2005         submitted by  pastorob

    Today, I participated in
a 30-minute phone interview with a Producer from a prominent Christian Radio Network in America.

    After our interview, she was planning to speak with
Pastor Tim Stevenson
from Horizon Community Church. Someone had sent the network a news tip about our trip to Lesotho. So she came to this website to learn more about us.
    I tried to speak a bit 'lower' than usual so my voice won't sound so tenor-ish on the air. Actually, the Producer had called right when I got home last Friday; she put off the interview until this morning. So, I had time to get all my materials together, in case I needed to make reference. Funny, though, it seems like I did a good job of stating the goals and objectives in a way that you all would agree had an air of "Ruth Nottingham" about it. I spoke of the great hope we have of sponsoring all 900 children on one particular Sunday morning in March.
    When she asked where folks might get more information about our March 6th service, I named names and said 'nice things' about all who are involved.
    Right off the tip of my tongue was stuff like: "Well, they could phone River of Life 4 Square and speak with Larry Brand;

....or one could call the Shepherd of the Valley
         Lutheran Church
and speak with
              the ubiquitous Rev. Mary Sanders

 I suggested a call to
   the New Hope Assembly of God
and to
     speak personally with
      Dave Ross
.....another Sender in the mix.
     Oh, I mentioned that Mary Sanders would be a great female voice to offer sonic balance to otherwise testosteronic timbre (I didn't say all that....);

      I did say that Pastor Rick Keiser seemed to
      be the "Class Clown" among us during our
      trip and that he could be reached at
      Family Life Community Church
along with
      Pastor Frank Mack

    And....hey, I actually said, "They could phone the Galt United Methodist Church and speak with Pastor Craig Dale......"
    Yes, the pleasant voice on the other end of the phone line engaged me with other questions from which she could locate useable soundbites.  

"Is there anything else you would like to share?"

    Golly, I had already given all the facts. I had shared the hope of sponsoring 900 children in ONE DAY (on March 6th).

    So, I went ahead and added a note about the challenge of accepting one another in Christ in order to work together more effectively.
    On Sunday, in both services, I reminded our congregation of one aspect of Rick Warren's teaching...

   "In every small group, you will find
       that there is one person who
       needs a little extra attention.."
    He called these folks the EGR people--
(Extra Grace Required); Rick says that if you look around at your group and don't immediately figure out who the EGR person is...then...guess what, you're probably it!

    I think that I was the EGR member of our Pastors' Vision Trip. I asked many, many questions and even accidentally broke a few rules along the way. Still, since I've been home, I'm developing a strong desire to see God at work in us and through us. We could ALL use an extra measure of Grace from each other. It won't be easy to keep the main thing the main thing.


       SUNDAY, MARCH 6th

            at Galt High School

            with Steve Haas and Ruth Nottingham
                       of World Vision

Galt pastors uniting
to take Africa trip
to combat AIDS

Saturday, Jan 15, 2005

In the spirit of unity among Galt's religious leaders and the desire to help eradicate AIDS, seven Galt pastors will spend 10 days in a small African nation to find out just what they can do.

Rob Patterson, pastor of Galt's First Baptist Church, wanted to make a statement to the community that the city's religious leaders are unified spiritually despite some theological differences within their denominations.

Galt pastors: from left, Tim Stevenson, Mary Sanders and Rob Patterson
discuss their upcoming trip as part of a delegation heading to Africa to assist with AIDS education and prevention in the small South African Country of Lesotho.
(Gena Lindsay/News-Sentinel)

Through the efforts of Patterson and other pastors, representatives from a Lutheran, North American Baptist, Southern Baptist and non-denominational church will head to Africa. Pastors from Methodist, Episcopal, Foursquare and Assembly of God churches have also helped finance the trip.

The trip is being coordinated by Tim Stevenson, pastor of Horizon Community Church, who said he wanted the whole religious community involved, not just his own church.

"I called every pastor in town," Stevenson said. "I said, 'Guys I need you to pray about something.'"

After explaining the idea, he said, "Let's make this happen."

Six pastors will accompany Stevenson on Jan. 30 to Lesotho, a landlocked country surrounded by South Africa, where 31 percent of the population has AIDS, he said. With 1.9 million people, Lesotho is slightly smaller in area than the state of Maryland.

"We plan to make three-year commitment to a township," Stevenson said. "We will have children from that community up for 'adoption' in Lesotho community."

Three other senior pastors will accompany Stevenson -- Patterson, Frank Mack of Family Life Christian Church and Mary Sanders of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church.

Associate Pastors Kevin Brown and Randy Holtz from Horizon and Rick Keiser from Family Life will make the trip as well.

"I anticipate that this trip will be a life-changing experience and that I will learn and grow in ways I couldn't begin to imagine," Sanders said.

Four other pastors were unable to travel, but they have helped raise money to defray expenses. They are Craig Dale of Galt United Methodist Church, Larry Brand of River of Life Celebration Center, Dave Ross from New Hope Assembly of God and Roger Wilkowski of St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

The work will only begin once the group returns. On March 6, all eight participating churches will cancel their regular services and conduct a joint service at Galt High School. Participants will report on their trip at the service and discuss with their congregations what Galt can do to help Lesotho in its AIDS effort.

Patterson said he hopes that even people who don't believe in God, but want to help the AIDS cause, will attend the March 6 service.

Stevenson got the idea to go to Africa after talking to Glen Barnes, outreach pastor at Lodi's First Baptist Church. Barnes took his own trip to Lesotho, a landlocked nation surrounded by South Africa, a year ago. Barnes was unavailable for comment.

Then Stevenson talked to leaders at World Vision, a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their potential by tackling the causes of poverty.

Stevenson then hand-delivered from church to church a video and informational packets from World Vision, specifically the trip to Africa, Patterson said.

"I had to go because of the personal interest on Tim Stevenson's part," Patterson said.

Patterson's special goal was to do something with a team of pastors to bring Galt's religious community back together.

"We used to meet every week for prayer, and on the fifth Sunday, we'd do something special," Patterson said. "That ceased to happen."

For about a year, pastors became busy trying to grow their own churches and stopped devoting the time to share time together, Patterson added.

"The (Galt) community is known for competitiveness on a political level, even between the churches," Patterson said. "It's an opportunity to keep our jealousies in check."

Many church organizations -- including Patterson's own Southern Baptist -- have their own programs to help the needy in foreign countries. But the participating churches chose to work with World Vision instead of within their own faiths in order to unify Galt, he said.

One day last summer, a group of pastors prayed together at Galt United Methodist Church. At the next luncheon, they discussed the idea of going to Africa.

Then the task of fundraising started. It costs $4,000 per person to make the trip, Stevenson said.

One resident handed Stevenson a $10,000 check, not knowing about the trip to Lesotho.

"God told him to give that amount," Stevenson said.

The donor said, "Tim, I don't know why."

So far, $34,000 has been raised. Some people gave up Christmas gifts to make contributions to the cause, Stevenson said.

"I am grateful to Pastor Tim for doing most of the 'legwork,' taking care of details like flight times, which makes it easier for the rest of us to just hop on board," Sanders said.

"I am grateful to the anonymous donors who have made it possible for our travel costs to be more reasonable," she added.

Stevenson said he plans to have all seven pastors send daily weblogs from Africa to inform the community of their daily activities.

"What I am really looking forward to is our return home, when there can be an exciting and spirit-filled response to this journey," Sanders said.

Anyone who wants to contribute money to defray expenses may contact one of the participating churches.

Contact Religion Editor Ross Farrow at

December 22, 2004
Seven pastors head for Africa
to help with HIV/AIDS
International outreach program

By Teresa Pearson
Staff Writer
Seven Galt pastors are taking a trip to Lesotho, South Africa to join a Vision Trip to observe HIV/AIDS ministries in action and personally connect with local pastors and congregations.

While in Africa, they will also establish local connections to help provide the local people with the donations given by parishioners of their churches to educate, medicate and supply families with bedding materials.

Seven Galt Pastors will soon take off for Lesotho, South Africa to help those who can't help themselves. From left: pastors Rob Patterson of First Baptist Church of Galt,
Tim Stevenson of Horizon Community Church, Mary Sanders of Shepherd of the
Valley Lutheran Church,
Kevin Brown
of Horizon Community Church, Frank Mack and Rick Keiser  of Family Life Christian Church; not shown is Elder Randy Holtz of Horizon Community Church.

The seven local pastors who are able to go to Lesotho, South Africa are Kevin Brown, Randy Holtz and Tim Stevenson from Horizon Community Church, Frank Mack and Rick Keiser II from Family Life Christian Church, Rob Patterson from First Baptist Church of Galt and Mary Sanders from Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. Also helping with the trip are pastors Craig Dale from Galt United Methodist, Larry Brand from River of Life, Dave Ross from New Hope Assembly of God and Roger Wilkowski from St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

"We were praying for a way to help those in need, to make a difference in the world," said Stevenson. "At just the right moment, we received a video and information on the World Vision's Hope Initiative. We all felt it was meant for us to show our congregations and see if they also felt the same way."

After receiving an overwhelming response from the members of each congregation, the seven pastors from several different churches decided to make the trip and start the process of giving to those who can't help themselves.

The group will leave the United States Africa-bound immediately after the holiday season on Jan 30. The pastors are scheduled to leave from Sacramento Airport for a 22-hour flight to South Africa.

At a cost of thousands of dollars, the group raised more than $28,000 through congregational donations and support to fund the international outreach program.

"We have families who have given up presents for Christmas to help with this trip," said Pastor Kevin Brown of Horizon Community Church.

The seven pastors will be joined in Southern Africa by 40 other pastors from all over the United States who are on the same quest. The group will be in Africa for 10 days and travel back home on Feb 10.

The pastors have many different goals for when they get home. Soon after arrival, they will have an assembly of all the church congregations involved at the Galt High School auditorium where they will discuss the trip and the ways the congregations can help with sponsoring a child or donating funds to help with the area of Africa they have adopted; Lesotho.

"In announcing to the congregation what was being planned, I explained," said Pastor Frank Mack, "we all live in this bubble; we're safe here working, not having to worry about food or clothing. But the children there worry about those things and need those things."

For more information or to donate to the trip to Africa, contact the Horizon Community Church World Vision Trip at (209) 745-0700.

December 22, 2004
This morning I've received three emails regarding the Vision Trip. The three letters are copied below:

To those being Sent:

As I type, Dianne is paying for our plane tickets.  So we are GOING!!!!!!!  No turning back.  Big article in the Galt Herald today about the trip!
Have a great Christmas.
Pastor Tim Stevenson (from Galt)

Greetings, Team, and Merry Christmas!

It's a treat to think of you all as you prepare for this trip and build the team. What a blessing to see this demonstration of the Body of Christ at work in Galt and reaching out in support of brothers and sisters in

Looking forward to being with you in February.

Ruth (from World Vision)

Dear Pastors in Galt:

I stumbled across a document earlier today and was reminded once again about what a great and significant adventure we are embarking upon.

It was a Barna Research Group study (click to read) that World Vision commissioned back in 2002 which said that evangelical Christians were the LEAST LIKELY group to help children impacted by HIVAIDS.

We were just beginning our C2C initiative to connect US congregations to African children, churches & communities to help turn the tide on HIVAIDS and Barna's results were like a bucket of cold water on our brand new initiative.

But we forged ahead and the US church IS "stepping up to the plate" - on our first 4 Pastor's Vision Trips (Oct03,Feb04,Apr04,Nov04): 50 out of the 67 participating churches deciding to partner with the communities they visited to sponsor 3100 vulnerable kids while generating over $6.1 million to fight the HIVAIDS epidemic in Southern & Eastern Africa.

The Lord is at work as we walk alongside of our African brothers & sisters on the "front lines" of this battle.  Thanks for being in the "foxhole" with us.

Best wishes & Merry Christmas,

John Thompson
Director C2C

Tuesday, December 13, 2004 Today, the pastors who are going on the Vision Trip met at Horizon Church to discuss details of the trip. Teresa Pearson, a reporter from the Galt Herald was there to begin her feature story on this momentous endeavor.

I have grown to love the individuals God has called to shepherd His Church in Galt. I am in my eighth year here; from the beginning I have enjoyed a wonderful interactivity with different pastors from these specific churches:

Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church;
Galt United Methodist Church;
Horizon Community Church;
Family Life Community Church;
New Hope Assembly of God;
River of Life Foursquare;
St. Luke's Episcopal Church;

I view the aforementioned churches as different sections of God's Garden here in Galt. Only time will tell if how each of our churches
(including First Baptist Church of Galt) will be represented in the overflow of our trip to Southern Africa. Key leaders and core members will have to make the informed, intentional decision to transcend certain historical, doctrinal, and other significant differences in order to work together for a greater cause.

I've made that decision.
I will.

Monday, December 13, 2004
Last night, at the Epicenter, we watched a video sent to Galt pastors by World Vision. For ten days in February, Y2K5, eight local leaders (from different church backgrounds) will travel from our town to southern Africa for a Pastors' Vision Trip. During our ten days in Lesotho, Swaziland, South Africa, (or other nearby countries), we will visit sites where World Vision has addressed the needs of AIDS victims.
CLICK HERE for special VISION page

I am compelled to go to that region of Africa as a step of personal obedience to the Lord. I have not yet been up-close to AIDS but do believe this truth from God's Word:

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress . . ."   James 1:27

By 2010, an estimated 25 million children are projected to lose one or both parents from AIDS. World Vision (founded in 1950) is one channel for ministering to the needs of HIV/AIDS hotspots around the world (Africa, Asia, and Latin America).

Throughout my relationship with my wife, Cathy, I have learned that generosity and compassion are her most distinct attributes. Early on, I would try to offer counsel that she not 'give' so much to others. Funny... as I'd share the logical thoughts from my head, my heart would begin to be touched by the purity of hers.

Last February, when I came home from Liberia, I learned that Cathy had sponsored a little, Indonesian girl named Hany
(this time through World Vision). We had already been providing sponsorship for a little, Tanzanian girl named Dorah (through Compassion International). Having just been confronted with all the needs I saw in Liberia (and knowing how 'stretched' we were already financially), I wasn't thrilled with the idea of another 'monthly' financial commitment. No, I wouldn't have chosen that obligation for myself...but I've yielded to Cathy's compassionate gesture and have made room in my heart for Hany as well.

Regarding AIDS, I wouldn't choose (for myself) to move from the statistics about suffering toward those who are actually suffering. I know that move will cost me! I'm asking you (the reader) to draw closer with me (and the other leaders from Galt) and help us be faithful to God in our generation.

Click here for a story in the Galt Herald
Click here for one in the Lodi News Sentinel
Click here for Journal Archives
        (40 Days of Focus: 16-57)

        RETURN TO rob'sblog





Galt past
ors team up to
 sponsor African children

By Ross Farrow
News-Sentinel Staff Writer

Saturday, February 26, 2005

When someone asks
Pastor Rob Patterson where Galt is, he replies, "The epicenter of God's
               activity in the 21st century."

While pastors in
Lodi might argue that point, seven religious leaders in Galt recently returned from a small African nation bound and determined to sponsor several hundred children to improve water supply, sanitation and farming practices.

They have officially sponsored 10 underprivileged African children. On March 6, Galt pastors will challenge the community to open their hearts and wallets to sponsor more than 600 children.


Mary Sanders, pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, with a child from Lesotho she is sponsoring for three years. Sanders and the child are sitting in front of a Catholic school in a Lesotho village. (Courtesy photo)

The community will hear all about it at a joint service involving nine churches on March 6 at Galt High School.

At the service, religious leaders will tell about their trip to the small, mountainous country of
Lesotho, a landlocked nation surrounded by South Africa. Lesotho has about 1.9 million people and is slightly smaller than Maryland.

Led by Tim Stevenson, senior pastor at
Horizon Community Church, the excursion included three other senior pastors -- Rob Patterson from Galt First Baptist Church, Frank Mack of Family Life Christian Church and Mary Sanders of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. Associate Pastors Kevin Brown and Randy Holtz from Horizon and Rick Keiser of Family Life also went to Africa.

Joining them in the March 6 service will be churches that were unable to send representatives to
Africa -- River of Life Celebration Center, Galt United Methodist Church, New Hope Assembly of God, St. Luke's Episcopal Church and Iglesia Rosa de Sharon Assembly of God.

Steve Haas, vice president of World Vision, will discuss what the Galt churches have in mind for the community.

Galt ministers toured
Lesotho -- pronounced "lay-SOO-too" -- during a 10-day trip in early February to find out about a nation where 31 percent of the population is HIV positive, according to the World Health Organization.

The saying in
Lesotho, Keiser said, is, "Thirty-one percent are infected, but everyone is affected."

At the joint service, the community will be asked to contribute $30 per month for three years to sponsor a child from

Pastors originally thought they would ask Galt to sponsor 900 children, but Keiser said the number of sponsors needed has been reduced to 650 because people elsewhere have sponsored children.

Sponsoring hundreds of children "is definitely a God-sized assignment," Patterson said. "We need the rest of Galt to step up to the plate."

A $30 monthly gift will pay expenses for a child's education and a social worker for the child's family, which in some cases includes orphaned children or single parents, Patterson said. Contributions will also be used to teach farmers the basics of clean water wells, sewer systems and crop rotation, he said.

Patterson said he hopes the joint service will draw new Galt residents who haven't found a church yet and people who aren't religious, but want to help.

The seven pastors left Galt on Jan. 30 for the 24-hour flight to
Lesotho. That was the easy part of the trip.

Getting to the five villages was quite an adventure for the pastors, who were driven there by guides. The villages are on top of a mountain at about 6,000 feet, but the drive wasn't exactly like an easy drive to Donner Summit.

"I didn't know these Jeeps could travel this terrain," Patterson said. "There were big boulders to go around. It was a surreal experience."

Keiser said the road weaves around the side of the mountain and included one spot where the road was washed out.

"You didn't look down, let's put it that way," Keiser said.

Lesotho, husbands often spend six months or more away from home in the diamond mines of South Africa, Patterson and Keiser said. One reason HIV and AIDS are so prevalent, they said, is because husbands will have affairs with South African women where the mines are, then transmit disease to his family when he returns to Lesotho.

As in the
United States, not all AIDS victims caught it from sex, Patterson said. Sometimes, it's from family members touching each other's blood.

To compound the problem, victims often don't seek treatment because of the stigma attached to the disease, Patterson said. Victims are treated like lepers, he said.

"The stigma is bigger than the sexual connotation," Patterson said.

Galt pastors were overwhelmed by the joy shown by village residents atop the mountain despite living without running water, restrooms and sometimes no food that day, Keiser said.

"The people of
Lesotho knew how to welcome people and how to love people," Keiser said. "They taught us how to be content. At least they showed us their contentment.

"We are really spoiled in this country, and we forget how blessed we are," Keiser said.

Pastors hope for a large turnout at next week's service, which will also include music from a choir from several churches singing together and a band from Horizon and
River of Life churches.

"God's obviously doing something to bring these churches (in Galt) together," Keiser said. "God could have picked anywhere, anytime, but he picked here. We're going with it."

The joint service will begin at
10 a.m. March 6 in Warriors Gymnasium at Galt High School,145 N. Lincoln Way.

Contact Religion Editor Ross Farrow

  emails sent during the Pastors' Vision Trip

AK-47s add to Excitement

February 8, 2005

Hey Everybody:

I sneaked back on the computer here. Then, after writing a long letter to you all, the connection failed. So, I'm gonna try again.

An exciting story happened our first night in Lesotho. We checked into a country villa (where we would room by twos in small circular huts). Well, Pastor Mary, another lady, and I were talking outside the hut when we saw a man being chased by a security guard across our courtyard to the right of us.

Then, we heard close proximity. We quickly ducked into the alcove in front of the hut. I peeked around the wall and saw a man running to the right of us carrying a automatic rifle (a Russian AK47) with his finger on the trigger.

I couldn't tell if he was a good guy or a bad guy...I had ducked back after a quick glance!

There had been a robbery the day before that involved the murder of some people at a Post Office. The CDI had been following these suspects when they decided to turn into our villa. On foot, it was their plan to hop the back fence and run up into the mountain paths behind our compound.

The two officers followed them and called for the villagers to also pursue the suspects.

We heard a great roar of voices from the road and saw a crowd gathering. During the next hour the sound continued and circled around the road to the front of our compound.

After twenty minutes of listening to them, we Galt guys headed into the crowd to see what was happening.

Since Pastor Tim Stevenson is such an imposing figure, a couple guys grabbed his arms and led him to the center (I followed right behind the parting of the red sea).  They had the three men on the ground. An officer was guarding them--waiting for a police car, I guess.

It was dark, Tim stepped back; I moved in. Then over my head, Randy Holtz (from Horizon) shined a flashlight on them. Two of the guys were quite bloody. One was still; apparently he was the guy that later I had learned had died.

Nobody was beating them while I was there...but maybe they had before.

We were told that nothing like that has happened there in years.

Well, gotta run



(Editor's note:  after Rob's story, the editorial staff is encouraging him not to use terms like "gotta run" ...until he is safely back in Galt.)

Pastor Rob sends Greetings from Africa

February 7, 2005

Dear Friends:

It has been impossible to email until now; we flew back from Lesotho to South Africa and have met up with the other two teams (one went to the Congo, the other went to Swaziland).

We are supposed to stay here for two nights (to hear reports, ask questions, debrief, etc.). Of course there are many in line to use this one terminal at the hotel, so I'd better say goodbye.

I was the preacher selected 'by toothpick' to preach to the gathering of about 400 or more? on Sunday. It was an awesome Sunday morning. For two miles on a mountain trail, we were greeted and escorted by boys on mules, five horseman, and a hundred people walking alongside our trucks, shouting with joy.


The trip home will be very long! Its a 19 hour flight to Atlanta.

Love to you all,


                                              guest column

  Community in Action

  Having a World Vision
by Pastor Tim Stevenson

   What started as just a dream has now become a reality.  For many years, the pastors in Galt have gathered on a regular basis to get to know each other and to pray together.  We have shared our concerns for our country, churches and city. 

    As we have focused on our city, we have seen what seems to be for lack of a better term an unhealthy ‘spirit of competition.’  This ‘spirit of competition’ can be seen from school boards, city councils and athletic teams to churches and local businesses.  Sides have been drawn and camps have been formed.  It seems that no matter the issue, there is always substantial disagreement.

    In response, several of the pastors called for a special time of prayer.  A “Concert of Prayer” was held at the United Methodist Church where several churches gathered to not only pray for our country but to focus on our city as well. 

    Out of that prayer meeting came the idea of the churches working together on one project.  We had no idea what that project would be, but felt that the ‘spirit of competition’ needed to die first among the churches and thus fulfill the prayer of Jesus on his way to the cross.  He first prayed for his disciples but then turned his prayer towards those who would follow later, including those of us in Galt today:

"I'm praying not only for them But also for those who will believe in me because of them and their witness about me.

The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind— Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us.

Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me."            John 17:20-21

    Could it be possible that God would fulfill this prayer here in Galt?  Could God bring together different denominations to work together to spread the His hope, mercy and grace?  Calls were made, funds were promised and now eight churches, from eight different denominations are working together with ‘one heart and mind’ to make a difference in the life of a child, and in the life of a community thousands of miles away.  Could it be that reaching out to help people that far away will make a difference in our own community?

    Seven of us will be leaving on Sunday evening January 30th to make the long 22 hour plus journey to South Africa and then into Lesotho where AIDS has infected over 31% of the populationYou read that right, it is not a typo. 

   Thirty-one percent of the population is infected with AIDS.  This is a vision trip, a trip to look at the need, to see the people, to make a three year commitment to a community to bring medicine, food and industry to rebuild lives.

   After we return we will gather together for one massive church service.  All eight churches, maybe more, will be canceling their morning services and will meet as one at the Galt High School Gym, to rally the church into action.  We will have the opportunity for people to sponsor the children we visited. 

   There are 900 children in Lesotho alone who need to be sponsored.  The churches will also be making a financial commitment to a project that we identify as the greatest need.  A team will be formed representing the churches to organize further trips and projects over the next three years.  All I can say is that God is about a mighty work in Galt.

  Henry Blackaby wrote that what we need to do is take a look and see where God is working and then go join Him.  I invite you to join us in making a difference in the life of a community half way around the world and in turn creating a real community in our own city.

Tim Stevenson

Horizon Community Church

Below is a letter we received from a man who grew up in our church. He shares our heart and worldwide vision:

January 9, 2005

To all Christians in Galt:

   Sharing God’s love in the wake
                of the Tsunami

   I don’t know if you read or heard about my challenge to the community of Galt to help fund World Vision in the Tsunami relief, or not.  As part of that challenge, I’m asking each of you to support this relief operation. This drive will go until the end of January.

  We have three weeks left and I’m asking you to really get behind this. If you would give a special offering (through your local church designated for the
WORLD VISION organization) at least one week this month, that would be good.  

  It would be awesome if  everyone to takes part in this relief effort.  We are using the address of to mail in checks:
   Family Life Christian Church
       Tsunami Relief
       P. O. Box 486
       Galt California 95632

or you can contact me,
Bob Coon, at 209.745-3405 and I will pick up the offerings for the fund and put them with all the other donations from the community.

  This is not a church or denomination thing, but a GOD thing. It will be sent as a gift from God’s children in Galt to World Vision. I know this will glorify God.   

Thank you.

Your Brother in Christ,

Bob Coon
click here:


Below is another letter we have chosen to publish. Due to a fresh working relationship among local churches for the upcoming Pastors' Vision Trip, several have already given in unison for Tsunami relief:

Dear Pastor:

World Vision has been humbled by the response of our corporate partners to help survivors of the Asia tsunami disaster. One example is Seattle-base
d Tully's Coffee, premium coffee roaster and retailer, who has offered to help us raise $1 million to help the disaster survivors.

When you purchase specially marked Tully's Coffee, 100% of the net proceeds will be donated to World Vision's relief effort in eight countries.

Starting Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2005, and running through Apr. 15, purchases may be made at all Tully's Coffee stores in Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho. For those elsewhere, is the exclusive online retail location for the Tsunami Response coffees, at

Tully's Chairman Tom O'Keefe explains, "We at Tully's Coffee are dedicated to supporting our local communities and by partnering with World Vision, we are all helping the global community in this time of need.

"World Vision is grateful for Tully's corporate leadership and quick response to the people who have been so devastated by the events of Dec. 26, 2004

Rich Stearns
President, World Vision U.S.

World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty.

My heart was troubled as I had wanted to visit my dear friends in Liberia prior to the South Africa trip. It doesn't seem as though my hope to combine visits turned out to be realistic.

I grew to love the entire Wesley family during my trip there in Feb. 2004 (the infant pictured above was born while I was there--they named the boy after me).

To my delight,
a couple from our church, Mike and Robin McCall, are planning to travel to Liberia ASAP. I will do all I can to assist them as our ambassadors to the Wesley Family, the Greater Love Bible Baptist Church, and the Greater Love Children's Home. It is a blessing to share a heart for missions with so many other individuals.

Robin now has her passport; they are arranging for their Yellow Fever Vaccinations, and currently raising funds with which to purchase tickets. I hope that readers out there will assist financially and make their mission trip happen quickly. I have already pledged my financial support to these willing workers. If you would help send them, please email me.


Nearly 30 million people in Africa are infected with HIV/AIDS. Sub-Saharan Africa is by far the worst affected region; this past year, there were approximately 3.5 million new infections and
 2.4 million casualties as a result of the disease.

In four southern African countries–Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe–HIV/AIDS prevalence has exceeding 30 percent.

AIDS has orphaned more than 12 million children in Africa. If they are lucky, relatives take in these orphaned children, but frequently they are left to care for themselves and their siblings. These children often work long hours to grow food or earn a meager income, but lack the skills and training they need to succeed. Furthermore, they are vulnerable to having their family lands taken away from them. They often have to drop out of school.

More than 55 percent of the people infected with HIV/AIDS in Africa are women. For physiological and social reasons, women and girls are particularly susceptible to the sexual transmission of HIV/AIDS. Often bound by cultural traditions where women hold lower social standings than men, women cannot control the sexual behavior (including adultery) of their husbands, and have no voice in contraceptive choices.

World Vision's Response
To fight this pandemic in regions like Africa, World Vision has launched the Hope Initiative–a long-term campaign to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS through innovative prevention efforts, compassionate care, and effective advocacy. The campaign focuses particularly on the needs of widows, orphans, and vulnerable children.

World Vision is working in many African countries to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS to the next generation. We've created and supported church and community youth groups that share practical information on HIV/AIDS prevention through dramatic skits and songs. World Vision has encouraged chastity before, and fidelity after, marriage to prevent sexual transmission. In Uganda, this approach has helped reduce HIV/AIDS infections by two-thirds. In Africa, we've been addressing HIV/AIDS as part of a comprehensive program that also deals with poverty, promiscuity, warfare, lack of education, and other problems.

World Vision staffs work closely with churches and community partners in Africa to ensure that orphans and widows receive agricultural and vocational training, supplemental food when needed, and access to adequate health care. We also work with communities to make sure educational fees are met so orphans can attend school.

World Vision volunteers personally visit widows and orphaned children to support their physical, emotional, and spiritual care. Volunteers also assist children in protecting their rights to family lands. When needed, volunteers help care for sick or dying parents, so children aren't forced to bear this burden alone. Our staff can help extend the lives of parents, enabling them to care for their children, and provide the assurance that their children will be cared for after their deaths.

In addition to lobbying for the rights of orphaned children and widows, we've been lobbying for full funding of the President Bush's five year, $15 billion program to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. We've also been petitioning for the allocation of sufficient funds from the $15 billion to enable faith-based agencies to create and expand HIV/AIDS programs.

See the portraits of our 32 children
in Liberia



checking in

on the

lives of


little ones.

                     Jennefaith Ben and more

Our Audio Download page has some songs that were written in response to God's stretching of my heart and mind toward those in other nations. Below, I offer information for those willing to share this particular burden as it grows on my heart.

RETURN TO rob'sblog