If I had to describe what Contenders Bible School and Village Missions mean in my life, I would have to use the word “grace.” After returning from 10 years in Germany with the US Air Force, where my wife (Serena) and I had come to the decision to give everything to our Lord, we were assigned to McChord AFB in Washington.
After arriving in Washington, Serena and I began to look for a church were we could do more than show up on Sundays and where we could become part of a family that would help us to grow in our walk with Christ; however, we found the search to be more difficult than we expected. David CarrThe Lord always guides and He opened the door for us to buy a small home which just happened to be two blocks away from Elk Plain Community Church, a Village Missions church located in Spanaway – so we decided to give it a try and for the next four years Elk Plain would become our church home, though the people of Elk Plain will always be our family.
After getting to know Pastor Len Phillips, Len began to guide me toward the Contenders program; however, at that time the Contender classes were only taking place at Machias Community Church which was more than 80 miles away and it would require driving to class two to three times a week after getting off duty at McChord, AFB – all of which seemed impossible! But then again, we should remember that it is often through the impossible that God blesses!
After meeting Pastor Ron Sallee at a men’s retreat I started attending classes the following week and an amazing journey began. Although I had to drive almost five hours a night to get back and forth to school, the trips never seemed that long because the hours were so often passed by spending time in prayer and meditation over what we were studying in the class.
Then, during the time that I was not in class, Pastor Len allowed me to use what I was learning as he got me involved in the programs at the church. He began to disciple me and over time moved me into the role of assistant pastor. To put it simply, the time that I spent being discipled by Pastor Ron Sallee through Contenders, along with the discipleship which I received from Pastor Len Phillips (both Village Missions pastors) radically changed both my life and the life of my family.
Following my time in Contenders, where I learned to study God’s Word and to cherish God’s Word, we chose to retire from the military and apply to Village Missions. On July 4th of this year (2014), we will be celebrating our 10th year of serving as the Village Missionaries assigned to Lenwood Community Church, in Barstow, California.
To say that God used the Contenders Bible School program in our lives is an extreme understatement. What we have experienced in these past 10 years, as we have seen a struggling church grow from 20 to 90 people and as we have seen lives changed – especially ours – it has been nothing short of “GOD’S GRACE” and we praise God for both Village Missions and the Contender’s Bible School program.