A little over two years ago, I went on weekend road trip to the Grand Canyon with some friends. We decided to take the opportunity to visit Flagstaff and Sedona on our way back, and wanted to attend church on Sunday. One of my friends called her fiancé and asked him to do a little research on good churches in Flagstaff. He googled the question, and found a pastor who listed Spurgeon as one of his influences. We decided that a friend Spurgeon’s is a friend of ours, so we went. It was a complete shot in the dark, and my hopes were not high to hear anything of value that morning. Little did I know that God had other plans. The church building seemed normal enough, the smallish church body slightly more interesting, with people ranging from college students in Hollister t-shirts to older women with skirts to their ankles. After a set of upbeat, contemporary songs coupled with modern hymns, a man in his late fifties approached the pulpit. He was very average looking, by anybody’s standards, and his stage presence was what you would expect from any ordinary long-time pastor. Then, he started speaking. It was his voice that piqued my interest at first. It was low but steady, calm and reposed, and it sounded a lot like a dad. Little by little, as his words became sentences, I started to lean forward in my seat and take furious notes. This was a man who knew the Word well, who obviously was well-read in the works of the ancient and modern saints, a man who assumed that his audience was intelligent and had a battle to go fight when they left the doors of the church. The sermon, or rather, the Word, pierced my soul on that day.
It is curious to me that God did not intend for the influence of this church or this man’s ministry to end then. Instead, a week or two later as I laid on our couch sick as a dog, I held in my hands a postcard written in the old-fashioned, unsteady hand of an elderly lady. Her words were short but gracious. She thanked me for coming and told me that she and others in the church were praying for me. I barely remembered that I had filled out the guest card on the back of the chair in front of me, so the carefully hand-written note held great impact. I had visited many churches over the course of my life and never in my recollection had I received a hand-written note, let alone a promise that I had been prayed for. As I contemplated what the Lord was teaching me from the sermon I had heard in this church in Arizona and the obvious faithfulness of its members evidenced by the card in my hand, I decided to see if I could listen to some more of Pastor Steve’s sermons online. In two clicks I had found the website. It was not much to speak of in terms of style, but I found all that I was looking for and more: years’ worth of sermons in both audio and textual format, a categorical list of pastor-recommended books to develop a wholistic Christian worldview, and various articles on a variety of aspects of the Christian walk written by Pastor Steve and many others. I quickly realized that I had stumbled upon a treasure trove.
Even today, I still listen to many of Pastor Steve’s sermons and count them among some of my greatest helps in ministering in Tanzania:http://www.fcfonline.org/search.asp?keyword=sermons
When I was in the states, I read through many of the books on his list of recommended reads:http://www.fcfonline.org/default.asp?keyword=BooksforGrowingChristians
Another resource I found of great value was a list of recommended prayer items (based on Bible verses) for spiritual growth: http://www.fcfonline.org/default.asp?keyword=WhatShouldIPray.
I’m so thankful that I live in a time period where I have access to resources like these even halfway around the world, and I’m thankful for those faithful people who make these resources available to people like me.