PASTOR'S CLOSING WORDS TO HAVEN BAPTIST CHURCH
Over 10 years ago now, in the year of 2013, God revealed to me the need for churches to be planted in California, particularly Southern California(and even more specifically, Los Angeles). I fell in love with this place—from the palm trees, to the mountains, to the desert, and yes even the people. In fact, as much as I loved the beauty of California, the thing that gripped my heart and ignited a fire within me to come back was not the natural beauty of SoCal, but the spiritual darkness of SoCal. I’ll never forget walking through Hollywood with my dad and seeing countless people whose lives had been completely and totally ravaged by sin. But I also remember sensing the desperate need for the gospel to be preached in the city of Santa Clarita. No, there weren’t nearly as many homeless people as there were in Hollywood, in fact, there were a whole lot of relatively wealthy people living in some very nice homes, but sadly they were just as lost as the homeless down on Hollywood Boulevard. God opened my eyes to the desperate need of the people to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, to believe and be baptized, and to have a place where they could grow together as disciples—committed followers of Jesus. There needed to be a Haven, a place of refuge from the world that was promoting the vanity of living for self, to promote the reality that we were created for more—to live for the glory of our Savior and Creator, Jesus Christ.
The past seven years have been blessed in so many ways as we’ve been on that mission. I think about the way God provided Ms. Carole to help us find a house to rent(she almost instantly become like family to us), I think about how God providentially caused mine and my dad’s steps to walk up Matt and Hannah’s driveway and knock on their door, how God used a Facebook ad that would bring Angie and Jessica(and then Jesus and Bella) to our church, I think of how Haven became just that, a haven for a broken congregation that had just experienced a brutal transition, I think of David Acee driving by our building during Covid and seeing that we were still gathering for church(yes, having Bible studies outside, but still meeting), I think of how Tim Costello was browsing the web for a church that could teach Him more about how to find life in Christ, and the stories could go on and on—every step along the way, we have seen God’s hand at work in a very evident way.
I still remember that first time we ever had a baptism at Haven—Angie and Toby had both accepted Christ and were ready to follow Him in baptism, but we didn’t have a baptistery, so we used our community’s hot tub(and then got reprimanded for doing so). That has been the heartbeat of this church for 6 years—to be United by our faith in Jesus Christ, passionate about our relationship with Him, and devoted to impacting our world with the gospel.
God has now seen fit to redirect our steps and lead us in a way that we didn’t anticipate. While this was not the way any of us envisioned the Haven story “ending”, we choose to trust that God’s way is perfect. We don’t know why He has chosen to lead us in this way, but we do know that He is leading and that it will ultimately be for the best. Refuse to get bitter because of this season of transition. The enemy would love to make you bitter through this, but our God can make you better through this.
Nearly seven years ago, we set out to be a church that would glorify God by making disciples—committed followers of Jesus. I’m looking out at a group of committed followers of Jesus today, so I can say with joy in my heart, mission accomplished. No, I certainly recognize that the ultimate mission is not accomplished. There is still a whole world of people who need to hear and believe the gospel. But you have heard and you did believe and now it’s time to go out and boldly stand for Christ and proclaim His gospel to a lost and dying world. The goal was never to plant a megachurch or to gain notoriety and recognition from the masses. The goal was simply to make disciples—to teach men and women and boys and girls who would then teach men and women and boy and girls how to follow Jesus.
Let me commend you to keep following Jesus as a committed follower.
Where He leads, FOLLOW.
What He commands, OBEY.
When it doesn’t make sense, TRUST.
When all of hell comes against you and tries to make you quit, CONTINUE.
While everyone else worries, WORSHIP.
During this season of transition, recommit your life to Christ afresh and follow the Good Shepherd as He leads us right through this valley. As David said in Psalm 30:5, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”. God is still faithful and has not failed to keep His promise. The gates of hell have not prevailed against the church—nor will they prevail! While this expression of the body of Christ ceases to exist, the church continues because we all will continue following Jesus until our life ends or until He comes. Human beings will come and go; sadly, circumstances will change and things you thought would stay the same will seemingly immediately be turned upside down. Through every change and transition, remember that you serve a God who loves you, who is faithful, will never leave or forsake, and who is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. Keep on keeping on for Jesus! The darkest hour is just before the dawn. Soon, Jesus will return to receive us to Himself, when He comes may He find us faithful.