May 22, 2017
Woodlake Special Meetings
From the Superintendent's DESK
Debbie and I have been in Woodlake, California, for special meetings, which began on Friday with a theme of “Be Revived; Be Restored; Be Renewed.”
The Friday night service was packed with representatives attending from our California branch churches in Eureka, Los Angeles, Richmond, Sacramento, and Tehachapi. The Woodlake pastor, David Lambert, opened the service and then Steve Hopper directed what he called a “mass choir” that filled the space in front of the platform. They sang “Dwelling in Beulah Land.”
Joe Bishop conducted the congregational singing and included the song “I Will Remember,” which was repeated throughout the weekend as a prompting to remember God’s blessings of the past. To that end, we were instructed to post notes of past blessings on a nearby bulletin board so everyone could see what God has done.
During testimonies, Daniela Mocan of Sacramento told how she was saved years ago during Woodlake special meetings. Luke Arechy of Richmond testified that he will soon be moving to Hawaii for school and entering into a new chapter in his life. His brother, Lee, also testified, saying that years ago when no one knew of his unsaved condition, the Lord orchestrated events whereby he prayed through. Josh Lambert of Los Angeles told how God always watches over him.
The final special before the message was sung by Josh Hancock of Los Angeles. After the message and prayer service, a taco bar and ice cream sundaes (with strawberries and brownies) were served. It was a satisfying evening all the way around!
We began Saturday mid-morning with congregational singing, after which Pierre Hancock, pastor of our Los Angeles church, with the assistance of his wife, Michelle, led an hour-long devotional study. He chose a text of Matthew 6:19-21, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” A lot of group discussion and interaction was designed to focus on what we value most, which of course is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After a time of prayer, we were treated to a barbeque tri-tip lunch at the church. A variety of salads were also offered as well as John Wood’s homemade cookies. Though the temperature was to approach 100 degrees in another hour, outside seating (under cover) was a desirable option for many.
In the afternoon, the youth took part in a scavenger hunt, and were awarded prizes before returning to the church for a choir rehearsal. The evening youth service was opened by Brother David and then Florin Baros of Sacramento led the congregational singing. In addition to the youth choir numbers, a young ladies’ octet sang “Jesus Did it for Me.”
Brother Florin’s wife, Jill, opened the testimony service by telling how she was saved at age fourteen in our Grants Pass church where she grew up. She also thanked God for helping her to recover from a health crisis that followed the birth of her daughter last June. During the immediate post-delivery moments the medical team lost her twice for two-and-a-half minutes each time. In follow-up appointments her doctors and nurses have openly declared that what happened was beyond their expertise. Some credited a higher power or the Lord, but Sister Jill’s response to them was firm: it was the power of God answering the prayers of His people.
Michael Hancock sang the final special before Pete Sferle, our Sacramento pastor, brought the message from Luke 5:4, “Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” Brother Pete spoke of his reluctance to launch out fully in the Lord before a 2001 revival, though he was saved and sanctified. When he finally committed all during a prayer meeting that followed a youth service on the middle Sunday of that year’s Portland camp meeting, he was baptized with the Holy Ghost.
A good prayer meeting followed the service which included many of the youth tarrying before the Lord in prayer.
Sunday we had a great day in the Lord in Woodlake. After Sunday school, the choir opened the morning meeting with the theme song “I Will Remember” with soloist Felipe Ibarra who also testified. Debbie’s testimony was featured as well, and she spoke of her appreciation for her heritage in our church. The message from Daniel 1 spoke of the Hebrew heritage of Daniel and his friends and how it shaped them and held them steady in unfriendly circumstances. Most branch church visitors departed after the morning service in order to make long drives home. One exception was the Rael family of Los Angeles who stayed to help carry the evening service.
The Sunday evening service began with Roxie Rael playing her violin. This was followed by the Woodlake choir singing as Sierra Bishop interpreted in sign language. Sister Roxie sang a duet with her twin, Rosie Lambert, before opening the testimony meeting. She told how she was grounded in the Lord in 1999 after a decade of failing to live up to what she knew was right. Her husband, Jon Rael also testified, as did one of their daughters, Natalie. Their other daughter, Julia sang the last special. A good prayer service followed the message.
It was a terrific weekend of meetings with the Woodlake saints extending wonderful hospitality. We know that God will continue to bless this congregation, and we pray for more souls to be saved through their efforts.
(Mouse over the image to click through the album.)