With dusty shoes, sweat-moistened brows and water bottles in hand is how several million visitors to Grand Canyon National Park view the grandest view of all. Visitors from all over the world come to stand on the South Rim and gaze into the majestic abyss, contemplating nature, creation, the divine or simply just how small they are in comparison to one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Just a short walk away, nestled in the beautiful pines about a mile from the edge, is a home. It’s a home set apart to house those who desperately desire to share the love, truth and grace of Jesus Christ with their neighbors and of visitors to the park. This home owned by Grand Canyon Baptist Church has a long and rich history of serving this community and church guests. Over the past couple of decades, it was blessed to have great longevity in pastors.
Sadly, the church’s most recent minister, Pastor Russell Lambert passed away in March 2020. With his death and the onset of shut-down protocols by the National Park Service due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the church ceased to operate, which if continued long term would mean losing its place in the park.
With this looming uncertainty, leaders of Grand Canyon Baptist Association, with whom Grand Canyon Baptist Church is affiliated, prayed and researched how to protect this much-needed ministry in northern Arizona. During the early months of 2020, the church remained closed like many of the entities in the park.
In the fall, however, things began to slowly open, and the association wanted to be ready to fully engage this community. Through the leadership of David Cox, GCBA associational missionary, the association executive board prayed and voted to take on Grand Canyon Baptist Church and develop it into a resort ministry of GCBA.
This association’s vision was to see this ministry develop into more than just a preaching point. Instead, they began seeking a resort missionary to serve in the park.
To move forward with this grand vision, several things needed to be accomplished.
First, to keep the church operational, the association had to work to provide consistent pulpit supply. Men from all over Arizona graciously spent weekends in the park preaching truth and loving a community that wasn’t their own. This was possible by the Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network.
Next, with no one living in the home, the association rallied together to have several workdays to prepare the house for the missionary family God would bring to the ministry. From college students to senior adults, volunteers spent several days cleaning and painting the entire structure.
Finally, the key piece in this ministry endeavor was to wait on the Lord to bring a man and his family to minister and love this community.
‘Grand Canyon, here we come’
On Dec. 1, 2021, GCBA announced Pastor Donn and Dianne Broeker had answered the Lord’s call to become the new resort missionaries.
Donn shared, “Our morning devotions included Philippians 1:1-11 where Paul is telling his friends of their importance in the ministry with him, telling them how they and he can have faith in God to work and to deliver. Yes, we can trust God and we need to live on the edge following Him. Philippians 1:12-26 says, if we live, we must live faithfully following God and He will produce fruit from our labor. That settles it, Grand Canyon here we come.”
It was necessary for many partners to join in this endeavor. Working together in prayer and financial support, the GCBA, Arizona Southern Baptist Mission Network and others have invested in this vital ministry preparing for a kingdom harvest of individuals coming to Christ.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This article was written by Lainee Pegelow, and originally appeared in Portraits, a publication of Arizona Baptists.