“We’ve all gotten older,” said Randy Myers, pastor in his second stint at Pleasant View Baptist Church, for a total of 17 years. But age didn’t stop men of the church from labor-intensive ministry this April.
They got together, cut up 30-foot lengths of lodgepole pine, split it into woodstove-size pieces and delivered it to a dozen families in the area where wood supply dwindled as a cold spring lingered.
“Even if you started out with a good wood pile last fall, by spring you’re starting to get short, especially if it’s a long spring,” Myers told The Baptist Paper. “You plan for a long winter but when you’re still getting freezing weather in late April, you still have to stoke fires to ward off the chill.”
Pleasant View, in White Bird, population 90, is nestled in west-central Idaho, between two national forests. It is 12 miles as the crow flies to the Oregon state line across the Snake River, and a five-hour drive south to Boise, Idaho.
‘Touch our community’
The church had gotten down to seven people the first Sunday he preached, about 18 months ago; now it’s up to more than 25, and growing steadily. At a recent men’s breakfast, cooked as usual by the pastor, the men discussed ministry ideas.
“We talked about how can we reach out and touch our community. In what ways can we make a difference?” Myers said. “We’ve knocked on all the doors and witnessed to most everybody in town.”
The following week, one of the men, who builds fencing through his local “pole and post” business, suggested a wood ministry.
“It was his idea, and we ran with it,” Myers said of Eloy Pineda, who lent them a logging truckload of 30-foot timber and four workers to help with the project.
Pineda’s crew drove the timber to a firewood lot owned by Pleasant View deacon Dick Brust.
“He had all the equipment and could process the timber,” Myers said.
Two men who occasionally attend the men’s breakfast — “We’re building those relationships,” the pastor said with a grin — each brought their own wood splitters and helped.
Three of Pineda’s crew worked with the timber on Friday. Four of them came on Saturday, plus 11 from the church, including the two not-yet-members. Breakfast on Saturday was followed by six hours of cutting, splitting, loading into pickups and delivering firewood to 12 homes where the church saw a need.
“I know the men came closer to each other by working, laughing and sharing with each other,” the pastor continued. “The community was able to see that our church is alive and not putting up walls of separation. It gave my men an opportunity to speak Christ into the lives of many families in a way that was natural for them.”
Myers wrote about the ministry in his column in the local newspaper. A week later, in an email from a pastor’s group in Grangeville, Idaho, 18 miles north, he received a plan for the Grangeville churches to cut firewood for families. The email said, “The Baptists in White Bird delivered to 12 families. We can do better than that!”
Myers chuckled at the memory.
“I wrote back that I hope they do,” he said.
Pleasant View is consistent in its missions and ministries zeal. It allocates 5% of undesignated offerings to missions through the Cooperative Program. Another 2% goes to Whispering Pines Baptist Association and 3% to the Utah Idaho Southern Baptist Convention’s missions
In all, 23% is allocated for missions, including a Deaf ministry in California, Mission Aviation Fellowship, Life Pregnancy Center, Cornerstone Christian Academy in Grangeville and the White Bird Medical Relief Fund.
The church also was instrumental in planting three churches in Idaho during Myers’ first stint — 16 years — at the helm of Pleasant View: Emmanuel Baptist, Cottonwood; Mount Idaho Baptist, Grangeville; and Hope Baptist, Nezperce. He also led the church on five missions trips to Mexico; three to Dover, Idaho; a prayer walk in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada; and a team from Whispering Pines Baptist Association to do outreach at the Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002.
‘God is still working’
“We’re growing and getting younger,” Myers said. “Two families have been coming the last three weeks, bringing six kids, so our Sunday School just doubled, and a young couple who just got married is coming.
“A number of us are over 70, but God is still working in us and through us,” the pastor added. “We’re praising God that He still wants to.”