Over the last five years, we have been blessed to see the Watertown church grow from 10-15 to 40-50 attending weekly. I give God all the glory for that. Being a lay pastor was not on my radar. I am grateful and thankful to the Lord Jesus for calling me to serve at Watertown.
Initially, we came here to help another lay family who was leading out. When they moved on, our whole family was involved in the worship service – preaching, music, children’s stories, discipleship, and lifting up Jesus. We were joined by the Lake Mills church plant, which gave us many leaders to fill much needed positions in the church.
We had a number of Adventists join us, but no baptisms. Early this year, the Lord impressed me that 2018 was a year for baptisms for our church. So, at our leadership team meeting, I mentioned a few names of adults who were possibilities and asked if there were any young people who might be ready for baptism. That got people on our church board thinking, many of whom had young children.
The first baptism was for Grace, Joah, & Shaphan Mertins on March 31. They are the children of Dan & Sarah Mertins. Their parents had taken the initiative to prepare them for baptism. I sang “Jesus, Rose of Sharon” and presented them each with a red rose, a tradition I am continuing from my father, who was a pastor.
The next baptism was for Bill Barnes and Mike Krueger. I was blessed to baptize them and they both gave a personal testimony of how Jesus worked miracles in their lives to prepare them for baptism.
Bill and Adel were attending our church in 2013 when we first came to Watertown. I asked Bill if he would like to do Bible studies and he said yes. He chose to study with me rather than on his own and we completed 27 Amazing Facts Bible Studies together. I praise God for how he is working in Bill and Adel’s lives.
Mike’s conversion and baptism was a result of friendship evangelism. Brett Murphy, a member of our church, took a job at Walmart. He became friends with Mike there and shared Jesus with him. They spent a lot of time together and over the years they started a gospel music group call D2L (Dying to Live) with a theme of dying to self and being raised to a new life in Christ, writing their own music and lyrics.
Mike had already given up drinking and drugs earlier in his life. The Lord was preparing him for ministry. But he still took smoking breaks while attending our church. He was rationalizing that it was OK. However, he came to realize that he could not be a good example being up front and doing concerts in their music ministry because of his addiction to cigarettes. The Lord worked in Mike’s life by giving him victory over cigarettes and opened the way for blessings in their music ministry.
What a joy it was for me to baptize these friends. I praise God for a year of baptisms. And the year isn’t over yet!