An “Ebenezer” Moment
Within the biblical narrative, there are small moments that the Biblical characters choose to mark with special significance either because God showed up, provided, or protected in a miraculous way. One such moment, in 1 Samuel 5-7, happens as the Lord miraculously returns the Ark of the Covenant to the Israelites after it had been taken by the Philistines. After the Philistines had captured it, they placed it in the temple of their god – Dagon. Now – this was a mistake. Not a day later, the ‘great’ Dagon’s idol statue had fallen flat on its face before the Ark of the Lord – its head cut off, along with its hands. Needless to say – the Philistines were glad to be rid of the Ark as quickly as possible.
After the Ark returned – Samuel called for Israel to repent and turn to the Lord – and on that day, God gave the Philistines into the hand of the Israelites. The whole story shows the remarkable faithfulness of God, and His power over the lesser gods worshiped by the surrounding the nations.
In response to such faithfulness, Samuel “took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the LORD has helped us.” (1 Sam. 7:12) Samuel wanted to remember – and he wanted his people to remember – all that the Lord had done during this small moment in Israel’s history. The stone he set up, an Ebenezer, was a signal post that would be a reminder for generations to come that the Lord reigns and comes to the aid of His people.
Church, the business meeting last Sunday, while not as dramatic as the story in 1 Samuel – is a historical moment for us as a church worth remembering for generations to come! For those of you who couldn’t make it – the long story short is that the membership at EBC voted to affirm two new pastors on EBC staff! We could not be more excited to bring both Joe Gutierrez, and Jacob Abrahamson on to our staff to serve as Pastor of Spanish Ministries, and Pastor of Youth Ministries respectively. On the highlight reels of EBC’s history – this moment easily ranks near the top! And it’s worth marking in our minds as an “Ebenezer moment” – because just like He did for the Israelites, “God has helped us.”
Here are a couple of things that this moment means for our church:
A FULL TIME YOUTH PASTOR
While most all ministry jobs require a “generalist” mentality in terms of the scope of work – in EBC’s history, we have never hired a “full time” youth pastor. Thus the addition of Jacob opens a new paradigm for a youth minister whose focus is primarily on our youth. With a growing youth group (50-60 students on average), the need is great for a worker to come in and till the soil of the hearts of our kids. While Jacob will certainly have some other tasks – we are thrilled to have someone dedicated to our Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers who is not being pulled in multiple ministry directions.
A DOCTOR OF MINISTRY
With the addition of Dr. Joe Gutierrez, we are welcoming our first Dr. of Ministry onto the EBC staff. While a degree shouldn’t be conflated with a calling on one’s life, we have seen and appreciate Joe’s heart as a pastor first and foremost. That, coupled with his dedication to being a lifelong student of the Word is a recipe that we are praising God for! Furthermore, Joe’s studies are suited wonderfully to the task at hand – as his doctoral thesis was written on integrating Spanish and English Ministries in an American church context. We believe that, as a church and as a staff, we will both learn a ton from Joe’s many years of missions and ministry experience, and find great encouragement/edification in his wealth of knowledge.
AN INCREASINGLY UNIFIED CHURCH
One of the highlights of Sunday evening is that it was the first EBC Business Meeting in which both the English and Spanish portions of our congregation were well represented. While our Spanish ministry members have always been invited to business meetings, last Sunday marked a new paradigm for our church’s continued efforts at interconnecting both the English and Spanish congregations. Not only was it a night to rejoice in because of the outcome of the vote – but it was a night to rejoice in because it was a picture of what, Lord willingly, is to come for our church in terms of unity across two languages and many different cultures represented. ¡Cuán Grande es Dios!
Indeed church, the Lord our God has helped us – and He is bringing more help to EBC in form of two new pastors! May we set up an Ebenezer in our minds to remember His faithfulness to provide – and let us rejoice greatly in His provision!
Excited with you for all that’s to come.
In His Mercy,
Pastor Ryan Aufenkamp