Friday, April 29, 2016


I am discovering in my life right now that holidays can sometimes be difficult.  My  circumstances are not the way I thought my life would play out.  Right now I find myself in the season of being a single mom.  I have grown so much in my walk with the Lord the past six years, and in many ways I wouldn’t change my life circumstances.  My two kids are amazing, and God has provided for us in awesome ways!

An important part of our journey has been the family we have developed here at church.  My family lives in New Mexico.  I am an only child, and we do not have any family nearby.  That is where our family at First Baptist and Sonshine Christian School come in.  God knew what he was doing (He always does) when He planted us here.  Our church family is our family away from home. 

This past Easter my heart was touched by the Easter breakfast the church did.  My kids and I were so blessed to enjoy breakfast here at church!  It was very special to be able to enjoy a holiday meal with some of that family. We would have had a great breakfast at home, but that connection with community on the morning of a holiday touched my heart in a special way. 

Thank you First Baptist for being our family away from home and for making Easter that much more special for us!
--Kimberly Bell, Second Grade Sonshine Teacher

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Facts, Ma'am, Just the Facts

Way back in the little town of Sodus, NY, smack dab in the heart of apple country, lived a tiny family. I was the wife and mother. Actually, I still am, but no sense of "tiny" exists any longer.

I don't know if we were typical or peculiar, but although Jim worked for the Establishment--we protested the Vietnam war and that Establishment on the weekends.

Chronologically, I may have the following details mixed up, but in retrospect they happened, and surely according to God's plan.

I remember sitting in our first little home, rocking our second baby, scanning our simple belongings but thinking, "I have everything I ever wanted--a husband I love and who loves me; an actual family of my own; our home in the country, even a second-hand pool--but what was this empty feeling inside?"

Jim went along with all my "ideas" as we became temporary vegetarians, attended childbirth classes, then LaLeche League meetings. It seems as though 3 things happened at once:

*one of my new friends from the classes excitedly loaned me her Bible;

* My LLL mentor began telling me that there really is a devil (I was surprised she still believed this) I mean, after all, I was educated now;

* And an old friend gave me a book to read called "The Cross and the Switchblade".

I had seen David Wilkerson on a talk show. When he said that the only hope was to accept Jesus Christ as Savior, I set my iron down, pulled up my hassock and waited for him to explain what that meant. My confusion was that I had been a pretty religious person, but had never heard that terminology.

In the midst of these incidents, Jim and I decided to visit every church in town. Maybe we'd find one that simply used the Bible, since we were getting back to the basics in every other area.  And so,we,a very hippie-looking couple began our search, as God Himself was "searching" for us.

After our second visit to a Baptist Church, the Pastor greeted us with a jovial, "You folks sure are hard to get a hold of. I've been to your place 3 times and you weren't home."

We were so impressed that he cared that much, that Jim asked me to call him and invite him and his wife over the following night. Being a Cross and the Switchblade "scholar", I quipped, "Maybe we'll even get saved." Of course, I was joking. I still couldn't comprehend it's meaning.

The next morning as I called the pastor, I had no idea that at that very moment, he and his wife were asking God if they should try to visit us again.

That night, April 12,1971, thanks to Pastor and Mrs. Bate, a borrowed Bible, some curiosity about this strange "saved" terminology, and a dawning on this young wife that,yes, Marilyn, there really is a devil...God brought peace through our Lord Jesus Christ. Truly, peace.

These are the facts, but what I can't convey to you is the love and gratitude to my Savior, Jesus Christ, for saving my soul, and changing the whole course of my life. That itself will take a lifetime.

--Marilyn Cunningham
Pastor Jim's wife

Friday, April 8, 2016

Sportsman's Wild Game Dinner

On a Friday evening in March, 290 men filled the First Baptist gym for the 3rd edition of the Sportsman’s Wild Game Dinner. They were greeted in the entry by quacking ducks, a camouflaged boat, and an ATV.  In the gym they were treated to several displays that included various game mounts--deer, antelope, fish, and a full-sized bear. The aroma of barbecued elk sausage provided a fitting atmosphere and raised the anticipation of what was to come.

Special guests included 12 first-responders, members of the business community, and a local radio personality. When all the men were seated, a team of high school students moved quickly through the room serving sausage, cheese and crackers which were followed by a full meal that included meat, salad, baked beans, and corn bread.  The meal was topped off with apple pie ala-mode. During the meal, a large variety of door prizes were handed out.  There was at least one gift for everyone present.  At the end of the meal, an oral auction was held that featured the dynamic Mark Hanke as auctioneer.  Auction items included a deep-sea fishing trip, beach house vacation, custom fishing pole, and a hunting rifle.

Mark Hoeffner, Executive Director at CB Northwest, was the speaker again this year. He shared pictures of some of his trips to Alaska, and related an exciting adventure when he explored the huge interior of a glacier.  During the exploration, he learned the danger associated with traveling into an enclosed area where there was an inadequate supply of air. One of his companions urged them to leave the glacier, and as they emerged into fresh air, they realized the peril they had avoided. He compared the importance of breathing to physical life and spiritual breathing that accompanies the new birth that comes from accepting Jesus Christ as savior. As a result of his talk, two men prayed to receive the Lord, one wanted to find out more about the Christian life, and eight others had life issues they wanted to discuss.

The success of the evening was supported by 11 full-time kitchen workers, two barbecue chefs, 19 young people servers (tips for the servers totaled about $ 900 for the high school spring retreat and an upcoming mission trip), and many volunteers.

The evening was a great time of camaraderie and fellowship.
--Clair Casterline