Monday, March 18, 2019

The Shadow of Our Steeples

Slovakian Catholic Church
James 1:26 describes a man who is deceived and has vain religion. The "religious" were those who crucified our Savior. They are those today who display the ornaments of pomp and formality while ignoring the needs of the soul. In February of 2019, Tim Pledger, sent out from Calvary Baptist Church in Middleburg, Floirda, traveled 2500 miles throughout Central Europe and was able to see the far reaching disaster of of what hundreds of years of "religion" can do to a region. When Christ is replaced by spires and truth is sacrificed by liturgy, the damage is catastrophic on a culture. This trip to would be a testament to the harms and bondage of corruptible "fig leaves" contrasted by the freedom from sin one finds in Christ.

Klatovy, Czech Republic
He arrived into Milan, Italy, the third week of February and was greeted by the members of the Bethany Baptist Church.This young but vibrant group of Filipino believers was led by Pastor Omar Monte. The people showed a passion to go to the streets with Brother Tim and meet people in their environment and present Christ. Over a period of 3 days, the souls of men were gathered from areas in Milan's Center. It was a beautiful city filled were castles, bustling business, and diverse people groups. What was more noticeable, however, were the large pockets of immigrants struggling to survive in an expensive European metropolis, many who had come here illegally. These groups of refugees did not seem impressed with the medieval structures of a thousand years, but had a gaze that was bent on personal survival. They were attempting to navigate themselves through a system of uncommon economics and an uncertain status. The fact that the streets were cobblestones and the bells of churches rang beautifully in the background, seemed to do little to inspire them.

Worms, Germany Steeple
During the few days in Milan, one-by-one, people from Senegal, Romania, Ghana, Nigeria, Peru and elsewhere came to Christ. Over the next 13 days, Brother Tim would travel to the cities of Zurich, Switzerland - Ingolstadt and Kassel, Germany - Klatovy, Czech Republic - Bratislava, Slovakia - Innsbruck, Austria. He would find the same circumstances in these large and becoming towns and cities along the way. The leftover religious tatters of a r\Reformation 500 years earlier offering little hope for a present generation in spiritual ruin.

One example would be the critical state of the Czech people in the town of Klatovy. Tim was met with warmth by a dear pastor, Pavel Flalka. Pastor Pavel had grown up in this beautiful and quaint town. He had been pastor of a small congregation of about 40 members for some years. He had a wonderful wife and three precious teenagers. When Pavel was seventeen and attending high school here, a friend had given him a gospel tract to read that contained the gospel. He carried it to his home and hid it in his bedroom widow for fear his parents would find him with it. You see, they like many Czechs were hard-nosed atheists. They had grown up with disdain for Catholicism and influenced by Communism and had no desire for anything concerning the Bible, or would even acknowledge a creator.

Pastor Pavel Flalka, Czech Republic
Pavel kept the gospel tract hidden for some days, and finally one evening pulled it from his window and begin to read it. He had an emptiness as a young boy that he longed to have filled by something greater than what this world had to offer. The gospel tract contained the "Lord's Prayer". As Pavel came to the first words, "Our Father", his heart broke and his eyes became filled with tears. The God who created him and had given us the Bible wanted to be his Father. Pavel pursued the young man who had given this gospel tract to him earlier and after some discussion, accepted Christ as his Savior, His mother and father were unhappy when they found out about his decision to become a Christian. They discouraged him for many years to leave the faith. His mother would die in her unbelief and his father, while critically ill even today, has chosen to reject Christ and maintain his atheism.

Worms where Luther stood trial
Thirty--nine percent of Czechs claim to be atheists and seventy-five percent of the nation do not affiliate with any religion. It is a sad state of affairs in a nation that formerly produced the like of John Huss. Huss was one of the great stalwarts of the Christian faith. Huss, a converted Catholic priest, would cry against the sell of indulgences in the Catholic Church and the authority of the Pope over the Scriptures. He would preach to the common people from his pulpit in Prague in the early 1400's until he began to draw the attention of Rome. He was seen as a rebel and divider. Huss preached salvation by grace alone and wanted his people to be free from religious bondage. In 1415, he was called to appear before the Council of Constance and give account of charges of heresy laid against him. He stood before church authority and only defended himself with Scripture. On July 6th, he was stripped naked and burnt at the stake. However, his cause would not die in the flames of Constance. Though his ashes were spread by his executioner on the Rhine River, the gospel which Huss preached would spread throughout the hamlets and villages of Czech (former Bohemia). The Hussites as they were called would become the revivalists that would keep a passion for truth and souls burning in this region for the next 200-plus years. The Moravian movement would be influenced by the Hussites and would carry the gospel across Europe.
Blue Cathedral, Bratislava

The thirteen day trek across six nations of Europe would finish for Brother Tim Pledger  in March. He would see seventy-one souls saved from among fifteen different nationalities. The Lord would bless his preaching and street evangelism, not because of any unique talent of approach, but because of the power of the Scriptures. The gospel saves men. Regardless of their color or culture, the Word of God can meet men in their present condition. It is not a belfry or the sounds of a church choir that can change the depravity of unregenerate men. It is Jesus that saves the fallen soul. The spires of Europe have left her focused upon on the pageantry of man-made religion, while ignoring the wayward sinner languishing in the shadow of her steeples. Jesus died for those hidden beneath the shadow of our steeples.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Europe Needs Jesus!!!

The Sherman, Weaver, and Dice families headed out from Calvary Baptist Church in Middleburg, Florida on Friday Oct. 12, 2018. Leading up to their trip, God had truly showed himself faithful in providing for each couple in unique and miraculous ways to be able to go. One such blessing was when the Dices septic system went out just weeks before the trip. God laid it on the heart of a church family to help them and they were given $1000. God opened one door after another to make it possible. 

After an eleven flight to London and a six hour drive the team was able to meet and work with Pastor Jody Hodnett and his family at the Bible Truth Baptist Church in Dumfries, Scotland. While there they were able to lead 11 people to the Lord! They did some street preaching and singing in a square in the city and passed out many tracts and saw people saved. Mrs. Stephanie Dice recalling this time said of one particular day when they passed out tracts in the town square, "During the over 2 hours we were doing this, Bro Sherman led Tommy and Ted to Christ, and Mrs. Sherman led Violet to Christ. Bro. Weaver led Joanna to Christ, and Mrs. Weaver led Jamie to
Christ". On another day of witnessing with the Hodnett family, Mrs Stephanie said, "That evening, Joshua led Karen, Morgan, and Brad to Christ. Bro. Sherman led Allan and Marias, and Bro. Weaver led Angel to Christ. Wednesday morning we were back at it, and Bro. Sherman led Charlie and Brittney to Christ. After much witnessing, trying, and praying, I was finally able to lead someone to Christ myself. It was such a sweet "Philippian jailer" experience when Leanne trusted Christ". The joy of winning people to Jesus in Europe never got old!!!

After ministering in Scotland, they travelled on to a town just outside of Lancashire, England and were able to meet Missionary Justin Williams of the Skelmersdale Baptist Church. While there, the three men and three ladies did an intense amount of door to door soul winning and canvassing of the area inviting people to come visit the church. In all,  9 souls were saved in England. 

Later in the week, these three couples from our church in Florida were able to drive into Wales and made a decisive effort to pass out tracts and speak to as many people as possible. In the short time there, they had 1 person saved. It was an amazing time of fellowship and focused soul winning.

They met a lot of good people, and encouraged the missionaries to keep up their good work and spread the gospel through witnessing and passing out of literature. It was also exciting to see a different culture, eat different foods and drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road! The most amazing part of the trip was watching the Lord work through them and use them to pass out thousands of tracts, witness to different ones and see some of those get saved. Our ANOM team made new friends and are so excited to see what God has in store for them next time. Over all after spending a week they saw 21 people saved in the UK. Europe doesn't need another church. Europe needs Jesus!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Ninety and Nine Slavs

At the birthplace of Joseph Stalin in Gori, Georgia (Stalin's luxury train)
The joy of preaching the gospel on various countries and to different people groups never seems to get old. In May of 2018, as a representative of ANOM, an arm of Calvary Baptist in Middleburg, Florida, I travelled to the land of the Slavic people and preached in the nations of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine.
This region of the world is known for having been the recipients of some of the most brutal forms of persecution ever handed out by Communism and Islam. The entire region had been held captive by the former Soviet Union for decades. Christians were placed in prisons and many died under the harsh dictatorship of Joseph Stalin. It is estimated that nearly 22 million died at the hands of Stalin.
While preaching in Georgia I had the opportunity to visit a Baptist church in the very town were he was born and reared called Gori. It was a reminder of the lengths one will go to promote self and brutalize their own people when they reject the gospel of Christ. Stalin, as a boy, was reared in an orthodox church and even for a time attended a seminary. However, he eventually rejected all of his Christian influences and became an avowed humanist and atheist. Now nearly 60 years after his death, within five minute walk from the place of his birth stands a Baptist Church where souls are coming to Christ and where the Word of God is proclaimed. Jesus' name will outshine the names of those who have attempted to vanquish His from the minds of men.

After preaching in Georgia and seeing souls saved in a high school, at a university, and in a house church in a village, I headed to Yerevan Armenia. Armenia was unique in that the people had suffered not only under communism in the last century, but also severely under the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) for simply embracing Christ. An estimated 1.5 million had been murdered by Islamic soldiers who came from the west to crush the Armenians and take their lands. All of the people living in this small country had personal stories of their families losses.
A older couple in Kamaris, Armenia who trusted Christ as Savior
I preached in the Baptist Church in Yerevan for a Pastor Garik Khachatryan on three occasions. There were incredible responses to the message of the Bible and salvation. Many wept in the services. Some came forward, repenting and being saved. God blessed as we conducted public services as well as house-to-house evangelism in the village called Kamaris. I was so stirred by what I saw in this land and by the hunger of the people for God.
I travelled from there under radar to the country of Azerbaijan. I met with pastors and Christian servants that had labored hard and long in this muslim land. For sake of the security of these brothers and sisters in Christ, I cannot tell of all the work for the Lord that is being done in this place, but I can tell you that many are turning to Christ as Savior. One pastor spoke to me of travelling back and forth to the neighboring country of Iran and starting more than 40 house churches in 11 cities and towns. Another pastor spoke of being imprisoned 3 times for preaching the gospel. He shared how the most recent time, he nearly died for lack of oxygen in his cell. He told how for 3 days he would place his mouth over a small crack in a stone wall and inhale all the air he could find in order to survive. These were humble saints and had all paid heavily for their faith.
Children asking Christ to be their Savior in Rivne, Ukraine
I made my final voyage on this trip to Rivne, Ukraine to be with my pastor friend, Taras Prystupa. He is an incredible pastor with an amazing church. His father and grandfather were both Baptist pastors and he had founded and pastore  this church in Rivne for the past twenty-four years. He was a visionary man of God and church planter. He had trained men that were scattered all over Ukraine and others who were also winning the lost in difficult regions along the northern borders of Russia near the Arctic Ocean, in the muslim areas of China, and even within the borders of North Korea. Pastor Taras' own grandparents had died for the gospel under the old USSR. This was a man that was the real deal. I was blessed to preach on Sunday in two separate churches and minister in a boys home as well. In all, reaching into this Slavic region of the world was eye-opening and rewarding. God used my ministering to see 99 souls saved during the 2 week trip. All Praise to the name of Jesus!

My pastor friend, Garik Khachatryan, in Republic Square, Yerevan, Armenia

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

200,000 Souls In Ten Years

Souls being Saved in Egypt
Nearly 10 years ago, our pastor, Dr. Ken Pleder, set out on what seemed to be an impossible adventure of faith. The task was clear, but the obstacles were nearly mind-boggling. After much prayer, he believed it was God's desire for the members of our church, Calvary Baptist Church in Middleburg, Florida, to take the gospel of Jesus to EVERY SINGLE NATION IN THE WORLD. The plan was not to simply send support to those that were in these nations, but to send our own members to the nations of the world to evangelize the lost and reap a harvest of souls for our Savior. This plan was not self-originated, but
Preaching a Revival in Sudan
it was plan adopted from the very pages of Scriptures. It was a plan given by Jesus when he instructed the singular church at Jerusalem, "Go ye into all the world". He was not speaking to a collection of churches, but one. He was speaking of a portion of the world, but all. 

So, in January of 2018, members of our church church began to travel. And we traveled and traveled and traveled.

And we began to preach. And we preached and preached and preached. And we ran out of money, so we had fundraiser after fundraiser after fundraiser. And we preached some more. And we prayed, and prayed and prayed. And over ten years people from cities and towns and villages got saved. And more and more and more got saved. And Jesus smiled. And Heaven rejoiced. And here we are ten years later. 
So what has been done in ten years? Not enough, but a whole more than we ever though possible when we began. So here is a ten year report:

Preaching to Prisoners in Kenya
45 - Trips 
(The are individual mission trip by the members of our church) 
45 - Members 
(The members of Calvary have raised their funds and traveled on at least one trip)
137 - Countries 
(The number of Nations that we have not only preached, but have seen souls saved)
201,024 - Souls 
(The number of souls saved during these missions trips over the past 10 years)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"One Church, Every Nation"

Most churches, and pastors, and believers limit the hand of God by thinking too small when it comes to "world evangelism". We discount what God could do through us because we are focused on our own liabilities, rather than the greatness of our God. This lack of faith spills over into our plans to reach our own Jerusalem, as well as any intentions we might have made to evangelize those on the other side of the globe.


Most churches "stockpile" money into their savings accounts, rather than emptying the reserves to give their all to support another missionary. We cushion ourselves so that in the event that we fall on hard times, we will still have sufficient and not be overcome by debts or a failure to keep present promises. This guidance based on fear and caution hinders us from living daily by faith and seeing big things from God. 

The same could be said of our vision for the world. We tell ourselves that cannot possibly as a small or medium-sized congregation single-handedly cover the known world with the doctrine of Christ. Therefore, we sit back in ease and do the minimal to appease our conscience while reminding ourselves, that we have done more than others we have known.

Calvary Baptist Church, Middleburg, Florida
God save us from this small-minded thinking! Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. Jesus, just before his ascension, gathered together a local church of believers and gave this handful of commoners a charge to obey. He was not speaking at a large conference or fellowship of Baptist churches, but he was speaking to a singular church when he said, "Go ye into all the world". This ONE CHURCH was given a task of sharing the good news with EVERY NATION. 

Fast-forward 2000 years and the typical church practices a philosophy that says, "We will do our part to evangelize the nations, and along with all the other fundamental churches, we will get the message to all four corners of the map". This thinking is driven by the toxic attitude that the world is TOO BIG FOR ONE CHURCH TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Can ONE CHURCH embrace the great commission with a vigor of seeing people saved from EVERY NATION? 

Preaching at televised crusade in Alexandria, Egypt
In January, 2008, our church in Florida set out on a course to this end. The ambition and dream was to send our own members on missions trips around the known world to at least bear some fruit for Christ out of EVERY NATION. This objective is still in motion 9 1/2 years later. We still have far to go. The goal is simple, "bear some fruit from every nation picked by the hands of those who are in the membership of Calvary Baptist Church in Middleburg, Florida. The goal is not to send others on our behalf, but to go ourselves. The members have raised nearly all the funds themselves over the span of this first decade. We have now preached in 133 of the worlds' sovereign nations. To God Be the Glory, more than 200 thousand souls have professed Christ as their Savior during these 44 excursions by our ANOM  labor force. We are just over halfway to our goal which our pastor set for us 114 months ago. The task has not been without a cost. It has cost us money, time, and anguish. We do not look backwards at what has been done, but forward to the needs of the people to be won from the next village, town, city, or island. The people of this sphere are waiting for someone with LIGHT to enter into their world of DARKNESS. Shall we wait until our needs are all supplied locally before we take the message internationally? I say, "In now wise".

It is the duty of EVERY believer, and EVERY church to ask themselves, "What will I allow God to do through me that the lost might be saved? The GREAT commission was not given to a denomination, bur to a CHURCH. 

Sudanese saved in a open air revival in 201

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Crossing The Sahara to Find Jesus

Sitting in a taxi in Tripoli, Libya, I learned an important lesson from my soulwinning partner. "God takes some through desert places that they might reach the cross". Such was the case with my new-found friend and fellow-laborer in this northern city of Africa. Newman was not your typical convert. He had grown up in harsh realities of the difficult land of West Africa. Fourteen years earlier he had abandoned his motherland looking for a new beginning in what was to be Italy. But before he could make his way to the European Utopia he had dreamed, he would first have to make the long trek across the Sahara Desert. 

And after some weeks of a journey that he narrowly survived, he came to Tripoli. He saw others die before his very eyes in the sands of the Sahara. Once in Libya, he planned to do as more than 300,000 Africans did just last year, he would pay nearly $700 to traffickers to take him by night across the turbulent waves of the Mediterranean. This unbelievable journey was nearly 1,000 miles. Many of the immigrants who try never make it alive, but find their fate at the waters' basin. Such was the case this first attempt by Newman as the boat nearly capsized, and eight Africans drowned at sea. The pilot turned back to Tripoli and their mission had failed. After another year of saving his meager salary Newman would try again only to meet frustation again, as the boats' engine would fall into the deep waters, leaving the more than 100 passengers stranded 6 hours from shore. However, they would find their way back through the darkness with their lives in tact. Still another year later, Newman, determined to have a better life in the West, would attempt this insanity once again. This time, the organizer of the journey, pocketed his money and fled away leaving Newman and others hopeless. 

After these three attempts to leave the continent of Africa, this young frustarted Nigerian moved to the town of Sirte (home of Muammar Gaddafi) to escape any remembrance of why he had come to this land. He didn't want to be around any of the Christians that he knew in Tripoli. He didn't want to be reminded of a God that he felt had abandoned him. However, as God once before knew the whereabouts of runaway Jonah in Biblical times, He also knew the location of Newman. And God didn't give up on this prodigal. Newman stayed in Sirte for some months working the job of a mason. 

One night while sleeping in this strange place, he awoke to dreams of Jesus. He awoke to throughts of being lost forever without God. It shook him at his core. Soon he found some believers that took time for him and shared the Gospel of Jesus with this searching soul. God saved Newman from his sins and gave him eternal life in Christ. No more would he have to search for happiness by crossing a sea or a desert. His happiness would be found in Jesus. 

Today Newman serves as an evangelist in his church in Tripoli. The days I spent with him there, we saw many other wanderers come to Christ. God saved Newman, not to take him to a better life in Europe of America, but to take he and others to an everlasting home in Heaven. Thank the Lord, for His sovereignty in not giving up on us when we lack the desire for His mercy. "He has to take some through the desert, that they might reach the cross". 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Jesus for All Africans

Tim at Church in Alexandria, Egypt
In February of 2016 we began our ninth year in All Nations Outreach Ministry with a trip to six nations in Africa. Four of these regions were familiar to us, while four countries we made out genesis outreach. We preached in many dialects and to many variations of Africans. While in Seychelles we encountered many European influences as we shared the gospel in many public schools with Child Evangelism Fellowship. Onto Mauritius we witnessed an Asian culture and shared the the message of Christ with people of a Hindu background. Into Madagascar and Kenya we witnessed the gospel to people with traditional African culture and ideology. The Swahili and Malagasy were people with former roots in animism and ancestry worship. Once in Ethiopia we entered villages that had been inhabited by Ethiopian Jews and told them of our Jewish Savior. Finally, I was blessed to preach Jesus to Egyptian Arabs and see many come to saving faith. 
Adewale at a school in Eldoret, Kenya
From the Arabs of northern Africa, to the black men and women of eastern Africa, to the yellow-skinned African on these three islands in the Indian Ocean the message was only ONE, Jesus Christ.. Salvation through the blood of Jesus is a universal message no matter one's language. As I (Tim Pledger) and my brother in missions (Adewale Adesina) traveled these many miles over land and sea, we saw that the joy one inherited when they accepted the good news was not different, but the same. We learned that people are people in every culture and language. It does not matter if one leaves behind Paganism, Hinduism, Islam, or Atheism to come to Christ, so long as the path of grace leads to the Old Rugged Cross. On this excursion we were able to see 7,081 people receive Jesus personally as their Savior. All of them that truly were saved were saved from very different but tragically similar past choices. However, in Jesus all of them have the same unique future as sons and daughters of God. Jesus is truly for All Africans.
Tim with children before a gospel film in Madagascar

The Shadow of Our Steeples

Slovakian Catholic Church James 1:26 describes a man who is deceived and has vain religion. The "religious" were those who c...