Friday evening at Gospel Light Bible Baptist Church (GLBBC) hosted a Youth Rally attended by more than 300 (not a typo) participants… so where to begin? Wow. Let’s cut straight to the chase; four lost souls came forward during the invitation and accepted the saving grace of Jesus, proclaiming Him to be their Lord and Savior. Praise God! The rest of the evening was small potatoes in comparison; the end.
Well OK, quite a bit happened over the course of the evening that deserves mention, all of which was gladdening to the heart and inspiring to the flock(s). Speaking of flocks, many Baptist churches from all over western NY were in attendance, being represented by their pastors and teens. Among the guest churches joining our Gospel Light family were (in no particular order) Calvary Bible Baptist, Temple Baptist, Chili Bible Baptist, Old Paths Bible Baptist, Trinity Baptist, Emmanuel Baptist, Hunters Creek Bible Baptist, Fellowship Baptist, Sempronius Baptist, Calvary Heights Baptist, Lighthouse Baptist, Southeast Bible Baptist, and Grace Baptist church. If any were missed, this blogger apologizes. (Pastor Giardino, did I name them all?)
Of particular note was the small contingent from Sempronius, NY, among which was teen Hannah Grimes (that church’s pastor’s daughter – no fair). This amazing girl (sitting right in front of this blogger) was the quickest to answer three verses during a close and hard fought Swords Drill game, leading her church to victory. (I thought we had someone at the door looking for ringers?) Gospel Light’s favorite master-of-ceremonies, brother Gabriel Gonzalez, skillfully conducted this highly entertaining game, which was kept score by two volunteers on a giant scoreboard to the right of the sanctuary.
In a church that was decorated all around with yellow road signs and cones, and workers in construction crew helmets, all that was missing was Pastor Giardino’s blinding highway lamp (inside joke). Co-host Vince Giardino, pastor of GLBBC, led the introductions and explained the absence of the originally scheduled preacher, C.T. Townsend, who is deeply committed to a 6-week old revival meeting in Georgia. In his place, evangelist Nathan Beam of North Carolina (and nephew to Pastor Dickson Beam of Grace Baptist Church in Medina, NY) was the newly chosen main preacher for the evening.
As co-host to the Youth Rally, Pastor Beam described the vision of the evening, based on Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, that if “Two are better than one”, then independent Baptist churches should come together to see what God can do in their midst. As a reflection of Psalm 34:3, Pastor Beam reminded us that we, as many churches, are tonight “one voice singing together.”
The major means of glorifying Our Lord on this most musical of nights, was just that, through music and singing. The number of participants was far too many to name them all in the small space of this blog. Nevertheless, we were treated to a duet with piano, a men’s trio, a quartet of women, a child’s choir (led by Bonnie Vasquez), a mixed trio with piano, and a large mixed choir (led by Pastor Beam). The musical talents of the host church were displayed to praise our God. Of course, mention is needed of brother Mateo Vazquez, who enthusiastically led the congregation in impassioned singing of hymns throughout the service. During the invitation, Pastor Giardino would later mention the “spiritual songs and hymns to soften the heart” that helped lead souls to Christ.
With the lights turned down, a skit was put on by Luke and Jesenia. The skit was centered on the life of a woman who had just passed on. She reviewed the episodes of her life as represented by cards placed in filing cabinets, which were the backdrop on stage. While feeling ashamed at the contents of the cards, the women was horrified to see Jesus arrive and read the cards, his eyes filled with pity. However, Jesus blots out her name on each card by signing his name in blood over hers. Jesus took upon himself her sins at the cross, saying, “It is finished.” At its conclusion, Pastor Beam emphasized the meaning of the skit. He had the congregation recite the words to John 3:16, having each of us replace “whosoever” with our names.
Before I get to the sermon of the evening, I’d like to mention the many other highlights of the evening’s rally. Pastor Dickson Beam, after telling about the day he was saved, asked members of congregation to call out their dates of salvation. Many did so. Pastor Willie O’Dell, of Hunters Creek Bible Baptist church, opened the evening with a touching and memorable prayer. After the announcement that David Spurgeon would soon be a guest at GLBBC, brother Jeremiah Rodell changed gears on the evening by performing an uproarious impression of brother Spurgeon. Raffle prizes were given out at several points in the evening. After the sermon, it was announced that, hidden under the church seats were five envelopes. Those teens with the envelopes stood up front, opened them, with one being the winner of a mini iPod (it being so mini that Pastor Giardino had a hard time finding it). Continuing with the hard times for Pastor Giardino, he had promised to shave off his moustache if more than 100 first-time visitors arrived for the evening. Needless to say, our poor pastor was required to submit to a shave at the pulpit. He was given one last request, which he made by choosing his wife to do the dastardly deed. It can be said that Pastor Giardino’s mustache died for his transgression, that sin being his bad guess at the number of visitors. (Lori, is it true you’ve never see your husband without a mustache? Inquiring minds want to know.)
With evangelist Nathan Beam stepping in front of the pulpit, we prepared to be fed the Word. Brother Nathan did not disappoint, directing us to Amos 4:6-12. These verses describe the stubborn nature of the 10 wandering tribes of Israel and God’s continued efforts to get their attention through the preaching of Amos. Despite poverty, drought, famine, and disease, the call to repentance fell on deaf ears. Thus, the people ran out of chances and God did finally say, “prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.”
These verses in Amos, we were told, have “special application to us today.” Brother Nathan related a story of when, at 7 years of age, he was given the chore of raking leaves by his father. Rather than just doing what he was told, brother Nathan made a mess by scattering the bagged leaves in a pretend football game. Upon his father’s return, he was caught unprepared and received a “whooping”. His lesson learned was, “When my father comes home, I will be prepared.” Likewise, said brother Nathan, “one day we will all stand before our heavenly Father.”
Nathan Beam then expanded on his point by saying we need to “prepare to meet our God at death.” “We all have an appointment with death” and because life is so short, we need to ask ourselves what we are doing with our “one chance at life.” Next, he said we need to “prepare to meet your God at the judgement.” Those who are saved “will stand and give an account of their lives” before the seat of Christ in the first judgement. They will not be judged for their sins, but their “works will be tried by fire.” Brother Nathan warned of the second judgment at the great white throne for those who have died in their sins. They will be judged by three books: the Word of God, the book of your works, and the book of life, from which their names have been “blotted out.” Their destiny, we were told, is “nothing but torment for eternity” in the lake of fire. Brother Nathan then spoke of a man saved just one day before his death and a child who died unsaved. That child’s advice, brother Nathan surmised, would be to “prepare to meet your God.”
The sermon was concluded by the invitation to come forward. Pastor Giardino called upon the unsaved to raise their hands, that the church was the “place to get right with God” and was a “spiritual hospital”. As stated earlier, four souls were saved.
At 10PM, this blogger needed to head off to work and would miss the buffet dinner that had been prepared by Gospel Light’s head chef, brother Jeremiah Rodell, and a hard working kitchen staff of many. I am told that on the menu was: chili-cheese dogs, potato salad, roasted potatoes, taco and salsa dip with chips, soda, potato chips, and as dessert, ice cream sandwiches. I sincerely hope that everyone had a great time of fellowship and fun at the dinner. Just prior to dinner, Pastor Giardino announced a follow-up church service tomorrow morning at 10AM here at GLBBC. All who would still be in the area were invited for breakfast pizzas, preaching by Pastor Beam, games, and other fun activities.
On behalf of all who serve the Lord at Gospel Light Bible Baptist Church, we thank our many guests (teens, parents, and pastors) from throughout upstate New York for visiting and worshipping with us. Our Most High, Jesus Christ the Lord has seen his flock gathered together for the high calling of evangelizing our younger generation. The commitment from all of us at GLBBC toward cooperation and unity among independent Baptist churches remains firm. “Two” or more “are better than one.” God bless.