Fellowship Family and Friends, This week has been surreal as I have reflected on God’s faithfulness.
Eight years ago, the membership of First Baptist Church of Immokalee (known as Fellowship Church) stepped out in faith and called a 25-year-old newly graduated seminary student to be their pastor. I remember the day well. For I was nervous and overwhelmed by the responsibility of being responsible for the spiritual growth of God’s people. Looking back now, I am grateful for those church members who stepped out in faith. Why? Because their faith taught me about the faithfulness of God. Let me share with you just a brief summary of God’s faithfulness over the years.
The First Twenty-Four The first 24 months of pastoring was a test in the faithfulness of God. Through the trials of church revitalization efforts, God proved Himself faithful. The few who trusted in God saw that their faith was well-founded. For our good Lord did miracles over these first two years. God brought an increase of new believers as the gospel was going forth regularly. In the first two years, we saw almost 80 new believers baptized! Also, in February 2017, the Lord led about 18 people to launch our Fellowship Church in Ave Maria. With the growing pains that our Immokalee Campus was experiencing, our Ave Maria Campus was a haven of shalom at 5p. Quickly the Ave Maria Campus grew with new people who were hungering for biblical teaching and a fellowship family.
A God-Sent Hurricane It is odd to think of a hurricane as a blessing, but Hurricane Irma was just the storm we needed to show us God’s continued faithfulness. In September 2017, our community of Immokalee was devastated by the high winds, rain, and flooding of Hurricane Irma. Our church buildings sustained water and wind damage. However, during this time, God was working all things for our good and His glory. For almost two months, we had 100+ volunteers sleeping at our church as we demonstrated the love of Jesus to our community. Here are some of the things that happened:
We distributed (7) 18-wheelers full of food and supplies a day.
We stored 1000s of lbs of supplies in our Building 2 Gymnasium.
We completed 1500 work orders from the community.
We put plastic tarps over 500 homes.
In the midst of all of this, God was adding to His church. For we grew exponentially through our faithfulness to share the gospel with everyone we were showing the gospel to in our serving. One Church, Two Campuses In January 2018, we became Fellowship Church. No longer were we First Baptist Church Immokalee and Fellowship Church Ave Maria. God created what we now term as our “Fellowship family.” This momentous occasion is one of our distinguishing marks as a church. For we are not just a casual gathering of people who love God, but we are truly a family of believers who desire to know God and make Him known through our text-driven ministries. Since January 2018, we have seen how God has been faithful to us through the start of Fellowship Academy, growth of Fellowship Sports Ministry, and our biblical training of Fellowship Theological Institute. God has been faithful to us through giving us a team of God-called men of whom I serve alongside as pastors. Our pastoral staff is an outworking of God’s continued grace. We do not deserve them, but God has continued to show forth His goodness.
What’s next? Reflecting on the past 8-years as your pastor has been fun this week; however, what most excites me is the future. Where will be in the next 8-years? Lord willing…
We will move into our NEW facility in Ave Maria.
We will renovate our Immokalee Campus to accommodate the growth God provides.
We will graduate more students to be Warrior for Christ through Fellowship Academy.
We will strategically pray about where to launch another Campus to reach people in southwest Florida.
We will raise up more leaders to serve God’s people as pastors, deacons, and FC GROUP teachers.
We will develop our Fellowship Sports Complex in Immokalee to reach more young people with the gospel.
We will engage regularly in international missions.
We will know God and make Him known through our text-driven ministries.
Jessica and I love you and thank you for stepping out in faith as you called me to serve our Lord as your pastor. I look forward to seeing you Sunday and for the many years that God gives us together as we know Him and make Him known! By His grace, Pastor Tim