Church in Focus
Great Light Baptist Church Springfield, Missouri - Al Garard, Pastor
Great Light Baptist Church began about seven and a half years ago by a man who embraced the Doctrines of Grace. Several years later, he resigned due to sinful behavior that disqualified him. A few weeks later he decided that his moral failure did not require him to step away from his role as pastor. About half of the congregation agreed and they left the church to start another church. Following these events, I was called upon to fill the pulpit and provide counsel as the young church endeavored to navigate through the drama. The emotional and spiritual pain took time to recover from, but God was gracious to them as they sought to glorify Him in all that they were doing during this time. A few months later they extended a call to me to be their shepherd to instruct them in the Word. Since then, we’ve purchased and remodeled an older church property on the north side of Springfield, MO.
A year and a half ago, the church added another elder to share in the oversight and teaching ministry. Steve Thompson has been a wonderful blessing to the church. He is a trained and gifted musician who oversees our worship services every Sunday. He also helps guide the men who participate in our worship services. He and his wife have been a special blessing to all our families.
During these last several years God has continued to bless GLBC in many ways. We have many good young families being led by quality young men. The church has elected six men into the office of deacon. They continue to grow in their ministry and recognize the great responsibility entrusted to them by the church. These men are also involved in our liturgy and teach our adult Sunday School Class.
Several years ago, God led Shane Spickard to join our church. He has been involved in prison ministry for over fourteen years. He leads a team of three men to teach Bible classes in a federal prison. We are blessed with his commitment to the Doctrines of Grace, which he teaches openly.
A couple of years ago, God brought to our church a couple who had been ministering in a local nursing home. Bill and Laurie Edgar have organized and provided an opportunity for our church to minister to those who cannot go to church as others do every Sunday.
Several years ago, God providentially brought us an opportunity to get involved with the needs of Haiti. One of our deacons had gone to Haiti to serve, as a diesel mechanic, with the Baptist Haiti Mission. I made several trips to Haiti to look over his ministry with BHM and witnessed the condition of churches in Haiti. Our church became burdened with Noah and Marcee Minner, who were serving in Haiti with BHM. While Haiti is still steeped in superstitions and Catholicism, it has experienced a growth of Baptist churches among its 1 million people. The great need is that there are very few with capable pastors and the vast majority have no shepherds to lead and teach the churches. We are presently involved in training four men, to provide launching pads for impacting the great need for men who are “apt to teach.” One of those men is Noah, who returned from Haiti to train for the ministry, as he hopes to now go back to Haiti as a missionary. I recently spoke to the new director of BHM and he expressed his interest in collaborating with our vision for Haiti. BHM is connected to over 350 Baptist churches there.
Our church continues to appreciate the connection that we have with SGBF. The recent conference that was held in our church was a special experience for our people. It has cultivated a real interest in the other churches in our fellowship. We’ve recently committed ourselves to praying for both pastors and churches of our fellowship.
My greatest joy is difficult to narrow down. Over 47 years of church planting and development has led to numerous joys. Training men who now shepherd churches is a special blessing. I’m grateful that God continues to grant me good health so that I am able to serve our Lord. I have found our Sovereign Grace Baptist Fellowship another blessing for me personally, and for or church.