Last month Toppenish Grace Brethren Church received a heavy blow in the form of a parsonage break-in. Pastor Greg Stamm, his wife Sally, and their children (Rebecca & Joel) awoke to find that thieves had come through the window during the night. Besides the deeply unsettling issue of having thieves in your home as you sleep, there were many valuable and some irreplaceable items stolen. The family car was also stolen and later found thoroughly burned.
As the elders at Beaverton Grace Bible Church considered how to best come alongside the Stamm's and our brethren in the Toppenish church, the following text of Scripture shaped a plan in our hearts.
14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse... 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. 20 Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom 12:14-21)
After an investigation it was reported by the Toppenish police that three other cars were stolen and burned that same night. The police concluded that the crimes were carried out by the growing gang population in Toppenish. SO HERE IS THE QUESTION... How can we most bless the gang members who persecuted the Stamm family, the Toppenish Grace Brethren Church, and the city of Toppenish as a whole? It didn't take long to determine that what they most thirsted and hungered for is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Taking the Gospel to them and the entire town of Toppenish is the very best blessing that we could fathom. So that is what we did.
Four of BGBC's evangelists had a great day of street, park, and door-to-door evangelism up in Toppenish, Washington. We left Beaverton Grace Bible Church around 5:30 AM and got back to it at about 1:00 AM. Pastor Stamm received us with love, prayer, fellowship, lunch, and supper. He and his family were richly blessed by BGBC's love gift and by our heart to enter into their mission field with them.
We found the Lord's hand of blessing upon us throughout the morning, afternoon, and evening evangelism. The reception level was very high in the whole community. There were several providential meetings with men involved in gang activity who were just out of jail or just getting ready to go into jail after their court date later that same day. It was a great blessing to bring them the Gospel, and it is our prayer that God will rescue them from their sins and make them our brothers in Christ. I was once much like them and the Lord set me free from my sins just as 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
Please pray for the gangs of Toppenish. Pray for God's amazing grace to break through the pattern of sin that will destroy their lives now and their souls in hell forever. Please pray for the Christians in Toppenish. Pray that God's grace will raise up every Christian to daily love ALL their neighbors with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray that bankers, lawyers, priests, store clerks, casino workers, field workers, farmers, business owners, gas station attendants, McDonald's employees, liberal mainline denomination pastors, police officers, judges, and gang members will bend their knees before the Lord Jesus Christ and confess Him as THEIR LORD and SAVIOR.
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,Who bring glad tidings of good things!' 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, 'LORD, who has believed our report?' 17 Sothen faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom 10:14-17)
stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. 29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.