Our city is gearing up for the July 4th celebration on Monday. Parade. Family picnics. Downtown music. Evening fireworks over the Snake River. It’s a pretty cool time. We celebrate our independence.
Freedom is a gift. We thank God above.
Our city is gearing up for the July 4th celebration on Monday. Parade. Family picnics. Downtown music. Evening fireworks over the Snake River. It’s a pretty cool time. We celebrate our independence.
Freedom is a gift. We thank God above.
Written by Charles Barnes
Both Isaiah (Is 65:17) and John (Rev 21:1) reveal that God will create a new heaven and a new earth. Jesus Himself, through His resurrection, is the first evidence of this new creation. But Scripture reveals that as God prepared the garden for Adam and Eve, so the new heaven and earth will be prepared for Christ’s bride, and He is at work now forming that bride after the pattern of Jesus, the second Adam. Jesus has been at work throughout the history of Idaho Falls drawing men and women to Himself, giving them new life, forming them into His bride.
That new creation is born of His Spirit and not always clearly evident. But like seeing the effects of the wind, we can observe over time changes in lives and effects of the new birth. We can only guess how many men and women and children in Eagle Rock and Idaho Falls have become living stones in the spiritual house that Jesus is building. And at any moment we choose to observe, we are seeing a work in progress; He is not done shaping and refining those stones He has chosen. In the book that Todd and I are writing, one section will contain stories of Jesus’ work of new creation.
Rob & Vicki Callantine
This following story is—very appropriately—mostly about two lives and a marriage. People can get very messed up, both through situations that they have no control over – like families they’re born into – and through their own decisions, some made as responses to the pain of those hard and hurtful situations. As the Spirit brooded over the “formless and void” earth, Jesus is still creating order from empty and wasted lives. And as Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to the cross, so He can come to us in our pain, offering and giving us His love, His resurrection life, and the great value of being included in His family.
Rob Callantine was born and raised in Pocatello. When he was only 7 months old, Rob’s 17-year old mother, his maternal grandparents and an uncle all died in a car accident. His father survived the accident, but was in a coma for 5 days and in the hospital for 6 months. Being in the Navy, his father couldn’t take care of Rob. So he was shuffled between relatives for the next 14 years, never feeling like he belonged. Looking back on his childhood, Rob can see that he was unable to form appropriate social relationships or to give and receive love. During his childhood he was both a victim of abuse and an abuser himself. At age 15 he moved in with his dad, who was then a truck driver and rarely at home, and not a good model for Rob because of his drinking and cocaine use.
In his high school years, having little supervision, Rob drank, smoked marijuana, tried meth and dropped out of school. His promiscuity resulted in a son, and he moved in with his girlfriend. But after a couple years, his girlfriend moved out, taking his son. That left Rob depressed and he got heavily into using methamphetamines. About this time his father moved in with him and the two of them began dealing drugs. His depression worsened, but until his money ran out, he was almost always high. Then he became homeless too. When another girlfriend offered to help get Rob into rehab, he realized he didn’t have any better options.
Vicki was born and raised in Ucon. Her family was one of only a few non-LDS in the community, but since both her parents worked, she had LDS babysitters and from them learned many LDS songs. When she was in the 4th grade, her parents got divorced. Following her mother’s remarriage, Vicki was sexually abused by a relative for several years. What little faith in God she had gleaned from her childhood was destroyed, and she considered herself an atheist.
In high school Vicki’s grades went from straight A’s to D’s as she got into smoking pot and drinking. After graduating from high school, a boyfriend proposed “twice” and Vicki refused twice, but then accepted. They were married in August of 1987, and seventeen months later moved to Guam. While there she gave birth to a daughter. However her marriage was not good, as her husband was unfaithful to her and had a drinking problem.
Vicki started attending the University of Guam, and then came back to the States to attend the University of Montana in Missoula. In a few weeks she came down with a severe case of chicken pox and also discovered she was pregnant. Her husband was not happy about the pregnancy and pressured her to abort the baby, which she did. He then left her for another woman.
Vicki had started on a quest to discover who God is while in Guam, but was resistant when some Christians, whom they shared their living quarters with, shared the gospel with her. In Missoula she continued questioning and praying. In 1995 she dropped out of college and moved back to Idaho Falls. Here she had 8 or 9 visits from LDS missionaries, but when she went to an LDS service and saw that men and women were segregated, she wanted nothing more to do with Mormonism. Later when she became sexually involved with a guy who was young in his Christian faith and laid heavy blame on her for their affair, Vicki was turned off to Christianity too.
In 1999, she got a job at a Maverik Store in Idaho Falls. Her supervisor was Rob. After going through rehab and spending a couple months in a halfway house in Tucson, Rob had come back to Blackfoot and was living at his girlfriend’s parents’ house. Rob was serious about this girl and had proposed marriage to her; she was also working at the same Maverik store. But he hadn’t gotten clean; he and his girlfriend were smoking pot together. Nor was he faithful to her, as he had an affair with Vicki, and she became pregnant.
As Christmas of 2001 approached, Vicki took on a second job, working 80 hours per week. Knowing she needed to stay awake for long periods she went to Rob for drugs, and they began using them together. For Vicki, life got weird very fast. Rob’s relationship with his girlfriend ended, he moved in with Vicki, and the following July they got married. Things were cool when they were high together, but in between Rob was violent and abusive.
For days at a time, Rob and Vicki would lock themselves in their bedroom, turning on the television to provide background noise to hide what they were doing from the kids. As they got high, they would often listen to Rick Brown on TV, preaching from the Bible. By New Year’s Day, 2005, they were ready to get off drugs and get their lives together. But for Rob it lasted less than two weeks. Vicki went 55 days without using drugs, but when she heard her ex-husband had committed suicide, she again used the excuse that she needed to stay awake during the drive to his funeral in Denver.
A few months later, Vicki’s mother, who knew about her drug abuse, made Vicki an offer to come live at her house. Vicki thought about it for a couple days, got high one last time, and after verbally pushing Rob to violence, took the girls and left him. After staying a week and a half at her mother’s, she went to the Haven Shelter. While at the Haven, divorce papers were prepared, but Vicki decided to wait to turn them in. Rob went to live with his dad in Pocatello, but that environment was so saturated with using and dealing meth, he didn’t stay long, as he knew that to get his wife and family back, he would need to get off and stay off of drugs.
So in early 2007 Rob came back to Idaho Falls, staying in a motel for a few days and then at the City of Refuge. There he met a man who talked about Jesus as if he knew Him personally, and that impressed Rob. Calvary Chapel was teaching their Pure Word classes at the City of Refuge on Monday nights, and Rob went. The leader of the class took Rob out for coffee two weeks in a row, and the last week Rob was at the City of Refuge, he stayed off drugs.
Using some tax refund money, Rob got an apartment and celebrated by getting high. After the first night in the apartment, he realized he still wasn’t clean, and wouldn’t get his family back. Rob got so low that he decided to buy a cheap gun and end his life, but in despair he cried out to God, “If there’s any way You want anything to do with a piece of trash like me, now’s Your chance. But You better do it now as I have no more hope.”
Jesus took him up on the challenge, with some very clear, specific instructions:
“Stand up!” Rob did.
“Go in the kitchen!” Rod did.
“Throw your drugs in the trash!” For the first time, Rob understood that his drugs were trash.
“Go back into the living room. I have always loved you; you have always been one of my children.” Never had Rob felt such acceptance.
“This pain and destruction you’ve been causing was never My plan for you. I sent My Son to die for you. If you will give Me your life, I will blow your mind.”
To Rob at this point, giving God his life was a no-brainer, and the moment he did, he was overwhelmed by God’s love, and by a sense of being cleansed. He remembers, “I felt like I was underneath a waterfall; I felt crushed and cleansed under the weight of God’s love. I broke down in uncontrollable sobbing.” Rob finally fell asleep, and when he woke up, he relates that life had color and warmth that it hadn’t had before, and that he was filled with hope and confidence that he could do the right thing. Rob was born again.
Calvary Chapel was holding their Easter Service in the Civic Auditorium that year, and Vicki agreed to meet Rob there for the service. Vicki had been attending Calvary Chapel for several months. But as Rob tried to explain to her what had happened to him, she thought, “Rob got high and he’s crazy”, and refused to take him seriously for nine months.
Rob was soaking up all he could find about this new relationship with Christ, asking questions at Pure Word classes, reading books recommended by a Calvary Chapel pastor, and living at Calvary Chapel’s halfway house. He got a job working for one of the leaders of Pure Word that gave him more opportunities to ask questions. At first he found verses in the Bible he just had to share with Vicki, but he learned quickly he needed to patiently give her time. Yet Rob still had a deep sense of loneliness and a longing to be back with his family. Vicki had been going to counseling, but wasn’t showing signs of coming back. So Rob was brought to another place of surrender to God’s will, allowing God to do whatever He wanted with Vicki and their marriage.
A week later she called and told him, “I think I’m ready.”
Rob saved up his money, found a house to rent, moved into the house in March, 2008 and Vicki and the girls joined him the following month. When Calvary Chapel had their annual baptism at the river the following August the whole family got baptized, declaring their faith in Christ and their new life through His death and resurrection.
Both Rob and Vicki now work with the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission. Rob started in May, 2012 at the Ark, and later served as supervisor of FAITH Housing. He is now lead supervisor of the City of Refuge men’s shelter. When Vicki was asked to be a case manager at the Ruth House in April, 2014, she wasn’t sure she was ready for the responsibility, but she was willing. A couple months later she was handed the position of supervisor of the Ruth House, which she’s been doing with the Lord’s help – since.
Jesus takes the dust of the earth—lives that have been hurt, broken, destroyed—and breathes His new life into them. That’s what Rob and Vicki know from experience and what empowers them daily as they work with people at the Ruth House and Ark and City of Refuge. His ways are not always obvious. Was it Jesus who held Vicki back from turning in the papers to divorce Rob, and gave Rob the persistence to pursue his marriage after Vicki walked out on him? How many people did He send to each of them as a witness of His grace and healing love? Jesus not only gives new life, and brings people out of what destroys life, but He also restores relationships—such as Rob and Vicki’s marriage—and invites us to share in His work of inviting people into His family and building the house of living stones in which He Himself dwells.
Written by Charles Barnes
All the names of this community we call home can be an encouragement to us, the body of Christ in Idaho Falls, to remember what Jesus has done and what our mission here is.
The first name for this place was “Flathead Crossing.” This story is well documented in Chapter 27 of Barzilla Clark’s, Bonneville County in the Making, published in 1941. In a nutshell, this is the story of an unreached people group hungry for the gospel, so hungry they would send several delegations, the first two of which lost their lives, on long journeys to learn the gospel from what, at the time, was known as the “White Man’s Book.” And it’s a reminder to us that there is still a harvest; God is at still work drawing hearts of residents of Idaho Falls and elsewhere to Himself.
The name “Idaho Falls” is a reminder of God’s hand in transforming a place that all the early explorers called desolate and inhabitable into the city we have today through water. The pioneers dug the irrigation ditches, but God supplied the water to sustain life, just as he supplies the water of His Spirit to give new life to barren lives.
During 25 years or so prior to 1891, this place was called “Eagle Rock.” Eagle Rock is the place that eagles live. One history of the city reports that 20 eagles were seen at the site of the Eagle Rock Ferry. Recent Idaho Fish and Game studies indicate that there are more nesting eagles along the South Fork than any other place in Idaho. At least 23 businesses and 2 churches in town incorporate “Eagle Rock” into their name.
Of Scripture verses that mention eagles, two in particular are rich in meaning. In Exodus 19, when Moses climbed Mount Sinai to meet with God, the first thing God tells him to tell the people of Israel is “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I lifted you on eagles wings, and brought you to Myself” (Ex 19:4). Many translations, instead of “lifted” read “bore” or “carried” and the Hebrew word can mean any or all of these. But it’s the same word that used in Ps 24:7, Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in! The word is used in Isaiah 6:1, I saw the Lord, high and lifted up, and it’s the word used in many Psalms referring to lifting up hands or hearts or eyes to the Lord in worship. Why did God use eagles, rather than camels or horses or oxen, to illustrate how he brought His people out of slavery and to the mountain where He chose to dwell? Because eagles fly; eagles fly high, and God needed to lift His people up to where He was.
Isaiah 40:31 is another verse mentioning eagles – Those who wait upon the Lord will gain new strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired; they will walk and not become weary. God’s people, who would be taken captive to Babylon, would need to get their eyes off of their captivity and onto God, and to “see” that he would deliver them like he did His people from Egypt, that He would give them strength to return to the land, to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. But before they could run and walk and build they needed to ascend like eagles into God’s presence, to grasp the work that He was doing and involving them in – “Get yourselves up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, lift up your voice mightily” (Is 40:9), to proclaim the news of His return to the mountains (powers or kingdoms) of the world.
Jesus was lifted up on the cross; He was raised from the dead; He ascended into heaven and seated at God’s right hand, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named. And God raised us up with Him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:6).
As God lifted up the Israelites to the place where He dwelt, so God has raised us up in Christ, has brought us to Himself, so the eyes of our hearts can be enlightened. So we can see farther. So we can see clearer. So we can see in His light and not be blinded by the darkness of the world, the lies of the world, the gods of this world. So we can get a perspective that’s normally hidden from us by the sinful world we live in. So we can receive new strength, strength that transforms us and enables us to be His priests.
So whenever you see the name “Eagle Rock” or see an eagle soaring above the city or the South Fork, remember that God raised Jesus and has raised you up in Christ to where He dwells, to see, understand and be empowered to do His work in this city.
In an Idaho Falls Rescue Mission office in the city downtown, John Howze has been posting a weekly story on the IFRM facebook page.
Here is my nudge of encouragement to you:
May Jesus reign in hearts in our river city,
Charles Barnes writes today about those who are being sent out from Idaho Falls:
1. Joe Johnson
Joe Johnson is a high school student at Watersprings School and a member of the worship team of Eagle Rock Vineyard. Over Spring Break, Joe is going to Guatemala on a mission trip, associated with Potter’s Field Ministries, which has a permanent outreach ministry near Antiqua. Joe and his classmates will be involved in construction projects, helping prepare the facility for Holy Week (which is celebrated for 3 weeks), helping teach English in some classrooms, and using his music skills in ministering to children. Joe hopes to raise a total of $800 by March 8 (he leaves a week later); you can learn more, see his progress and contribute at https://www.gofundme.com/7fseu5a4.
2. Mitch and Amanda Chaplin
Mitch Chaplin was the only Christian in his family until a few months ago. God brought together Mitch from Nova Scotia, and Amanda, from Idaho Falls via Boise and then Alaska, joined them in marriage in Michigan, and after a number of years of training and preparation, is now sending them to disciple and encourage a new generation to become missionaries to unreached peoples. Mitch and Amanda have hearts to serve and enthusiasm to take the gospel where it hasn’t gone.
While Mitch’s family was marginally involved with the United Church of Canada, Mitch did not hear a clear presentation of the gospel until the summer after 7th grade. A group from North Carolina had come north to Nova Scotia to do a summer Vacation Bible School. Much older than the kids that came to the VBS, Mitch hung out with the staff and from them heard the gospel and responded.
In high school he became friends with Christians who went to different churches, and this group would make the rounds of going to several church youth groups each week. A leader of one of the youth groups joined New Tribes Mission and was headed to Brazil, and he encouraged Mitch to go to a NTM Bible School after graduating from high school, and even took him to visit the school.
Amanda spent the early years of her life in Idaho Falls, and most of her relatives are LDS. Some are still very committed Mormons, others marginal. When Amanda was very young, a man her dad worked with invited her parents to go to a concert in Idaho Falls. The concert turned out to be a revival meeting, and they both responded to the invitation to be saved. Amanda’s family moved to the Boise area when she was 6 years old and she came to saving faith in Jesus while living in the Boise area at the age of 11. The family then moved to Alaska as she entered High School. It was there that she got plugged into a strong youth group, was mentored and discipled and where her heart for missions grew. As she heard missionaries share in her youth group, she knew that was what she wanted to do. After high school she attended Ecola Bible School in Cannon Beach, Oregon. One of the teachers there was a New Tribes missionary who shared about their 2 year Bible School (NTBI) and their Missionary Training Center.
Mitch and Amanda met at the New Tribes Bible Institute in Jackson, Michigan. New Tribes has a two year Bible Study program; following graduation Mitch and Amanda took time to work to pay off school debts and be involved in youth ministries. For a year and a half, they lived in Idaho Falls and were involved with Christ Community Church, helping with the youth program there. They also came back to Idaho Falls during the summers to help with mission trips of the Christ Community youth group.
During this period Mitch and Amanda desired to continue their training with New Tribes Mission, the next phase of which involved an 18-month program with courses in cross-cultural communication, church planting, and linguistics, and a 6 week “jungle camp” aimed at learning basic living skills needed in undeveloped areas of the world. These years prior to returning to school were a time God was teaching them to live by faith. Amanda had three miscarriages. And for a while they had doubts about their calling to missions, as people in their church in Canada, where they had been involved for many years, were hinting that the church may not give them any support. But support did come through to enable them to enroll in NTM’s Training Center in Ontario. During their time in Ontario, Amanda gave birth to a healthy daughter, Amy Grace, on May 2, 2014, just 4 short weeks before their Jungle Camp practicum began.
Mitch and Amanda completed the NTM Training program and jungle camp, spent some more time working to finish paying off school debts as well as beginning to raise their financial and prayer support team. They arrived in Idaho Falls early last month to continue to raise their support for working full time with New Tribes Mission. For their first 4-year term, they plan to return to the NTM Bible Institute in Michigan. While helping to run the cafeteria, they will be involved in discipling students and seeking to influence them to pursue further missionary training. This will also give Mitch time to gain US citizenship, so that then when they later go overseas it will be much easier making trips to both the US and Canada.
Mitch and Amanda expect to be in Idaho Falls until May and would love to share with you more about their lives and their calling. You can contact them at email@example.com or learn more at http://mitchandamanda.com/.
And yes, Mitch says that he IS related to Charlie Chaplin!
Here is the testimony of Pastor Anthony Manzanares, as written down by Charles Barnes:
Anthony Manzanares is the senior pastor of New Destiny Ministries Church of God in Christ in Idaho Falls. The church has its office and meets for worship in the historic Rogers Building downtown, and Anthony has a burden to reach people who live (or are homeless) in the downtown area. There was a period of his life when he was homeless.
Anthony’s earliest years were spent on and near the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming; his mother is Native American. Some of his earliest memories are of the Saint Stephens Mission, which is near Riverton on the Reservation. When he was four or five years old his parents divorced and he went to live with his father in Lander. There he did well in school, so well that twice he was moved up in grades, one time by two years. However, at age 14, while in high school, he got in trouble. Caught smoking with a friend by the school principal, he and his friend were expelled from school. Given an ultimatum by his father of two options that both seemed impossible, Anthony found himself on his own. So he left Lander to come to Idaho Falls where his mother lived. But he didn’t fit in with her life of alcohol, drugs and partying. So Anthony was on the streets in Idaho Falls. Complicating his life was the fact that he left Lander carrying no identity papers, which made getting a job in Idaho Falls nearly impossible.
Anthony will tell you that he was born again when he responded to an altar call at a Jehovah’s Witness church. Growing up he had had some exposure to the Catholic Church and Assemblies of God churches. Though his father quit going to church after his divorce, he insisted his kids still go, so they often went wherever someone would give them a ride. A Jehovah’s Witness lady was doing that. When Anthony went forward one Sunday to receive Christ, and was kneeling at the altar, he sensed a shadow come over him that became a huge bright light.
In Idaho Falls, Anthony was influenced by the people he hung out with, and unable to make money any other way, he turned to illegal activities. He knew what he was doing was wrong, but justified it to himself by thinking, “No one is taking care of me.” In fact he got so sick once from the guilt he felt that his aunt called an ambulance. Yet he needed money to live, and without identification papers, could not hold a job permanently.
By age 18 there were warrants out for his arrest in Idaho and Utah. But when he got word of it, he turned himself in, first in Idaho Falls and then again in Utah. Facing two 5-10 year sentences, and having an incompetent lawyer, things did not look good for him. But He had the Lord, and the Lord provided an opportunity in the courtroom for Anthony to explain to the judge the circumstances of his case. The judge, who had been ready to sentence him to prison, upon hearing his testimony dropped one charge, reduced the other from a felony to a misdemeanor, and pronounced a withheld judgement. Anthony is thankful for God’s hand in this because if he had been convicted he would not be able to minister in the Youth Center in St. Anthony as he has been doing.
It wasn’t long after Anthony’s legal problems were cleared up that he met his wife, Laura. Laura grew up in an LDS family, but found Christ through the Awanas program at Calvary Baptist Church in Idaho Falls. After getting married, they moved to Las Vegas where they both attended a trade school, Laura in a medical assistant’s program and Anthony in business management. Getting away from Idaho Falls, Anthony was looking to start a new life. While in Las Vegas, Laura went with some girlfriends to midweek revival meetings of RW Shambach, and invited Anthony to go with them to the Friday night meeting. Anthony didn’t really believe that his wife had been going to religious meetings that week, and wasn’t interested in spending his Friday night with several women, but agreed to go just to see if his wife was telling the truth. There he responded to an invitation to rededicate his life to the Lord.
After finishing their studies, Anthony and Laura returned to Idaho Falls. They were starting to look for a church to attend when they saw a flier about a new church, meeting at the Westbank Hotel. They went to the first service and continued to attend Westside Assembly, later named Cornerstone Assembly. Anthony’s first sense of calling into the ministry occurred when a Native American group made a presentation at Cornerstone, and Anthony heard the Lord tell him to bring his family to Christ. Later he understood that to mean his aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. Anthony helped with Royal Rangers at the church and was asked to be a deacon, but didn’t sense it was the right time.
In 1994, his brother-in-law was killed in a car accident and the following year his younger brother died of a drug overdose. Anthony struggled with why the Lord allowed these deaths and he turned away from the Lord. He poured his heart into his work, which grew to three businesses: a very successful landscaping business, an interior and exterior remodeling business and selling steel buildings. He was putting in long days working, and to stay awake started taking amphetamines. Then to fall asleep he would use alcohol.
Though Anthony was not seeking the Lord at this time, the Lord was at work drawing him back. Two business deals that fell through left Anthony deep in debt. Compounding his financial problems were three accidents that happened in a period of six months, totaling two vehicles and badly damaging a third. Somewhat miraculously Anthony escaped any serious injuries in all these accidents. Also during this time period his stepmother died and his father asked him to go to the funeral at the Saint Stevens Mission in Wyoming. The night before the funeral, Anthony had a dream about what would happen the next day, and the events of the day unfolded just as Anthony had seen in his dream. After this Anthony started seriously asking the Lord to take away his need for drugs and alcohol. Years earlier when Anthony had prayed this, the Lord immediately took away his desire for drugs and alcohol. But this time the Lord responded that He had done it once, and now he would have to overcome his addictions himself. For a couple months it was rough. With pain throughout his body that made him yearn to stay in bed all day, Anthony would get up and go to work only because of his wife’s insistence.
All of these things got Anthony to seek the Lord deeply in prayer. When he asked the Lord how he could get out of debt, the Lord told him to do what seemed illogical, not to accept every job that came his way, and to bid jobs much higher than he had been doing. The Lord told him to trust that He would bring him the jobs He wanted. Anthony did take on fewer jobs, cut back from running three crews to only one, and it wasn’t long before he had paid off his debts and obtained a good truck, something he didn’t have after the accidents.
At this time Anthony and Laura were still attending Cornerstone Assembly, and Anthony was teaching the Jr. and Sr. High youth as well as continuing to be involved in their Royal Ranger program. But he sensed the Lord had more for him to do.
One way that the Lord has used Anthony and his wife has been as foster parents. Over the years they have opened their hearts and home to 18 kids, 15 of which stayed for considerable periods of time. Three of these they adopted, one from birth.
About 2004 Laura met Bishop Taro Golden when he brought a client to her office, and after a second visit a connection was made. Anthony and Laura visited New Covenant COGIC once, and then again, and they both sensed the Lord leading them to become involved there. Over the next four years Anthony was trained to become a minister and then an elder, which in the Church of God in Christ denomination is essentially equivalent to being a pastor.
As Anthony prayed more about how the Lord could use him, he sensed the Lord was leading him to plant a church in Blackfoot or possibly Pocatello, and made numerous trips to Blackfoot to look for possible locations. He was offered pastoral positions in several places, including Boise, which would have been convenient for his wife to remain employed with the same company she was working for in Idaho Falls. But in the summer of 2013, Bishop Golden invited Anthony to lunch, and asked him to take over as pastor of New Covenant. While Anthony had been focused on Blackfoot, he did remember that three years previous he had told Laura that one day he would be the pastor of New Covenant. Bishop Golden also recommended getting a fresh start by finding a different meeting place and changing the name of the church. By November of that year, New Destiny began meeting in the Rogers Building.
Anthony has seen the Lord bring him through a lot, has learned to seek Him, listen to Him and obey Him. He desires to see God use him to bring healing, deliverance and growth. And just as important, Anthony wants New Destiny to send out capable servants of the Lord to minister wherever God leads them, whether in other churches in town or other places.
Across America and throughout most parts of the world Christmas Eve dawns on a weary planet. Wars and near wars plague several nations, and perplexing problems affect all. Men yearn for “peace on earth, good will toward men.” That peace is not here, but for one day, one short season, they will experience a taste of it. They will feel the spirit of Christmas, of brotherhood, of giving, of love, of inner joy. Christmas is here again to bless all who will receive it…
Worshipers Pay Homage to Christ: Christians around the world were doing their best Thursday to forget war, politics and economic troubles long enough to enjoy a merry Christmas and follow it up with a happy New Year. In the Middle East, with a cease-fire keeping the Arab-Israel conflict in check for the first time since the 1967 war, some 10,000 Christians from all over the world poured into Bethlehem…
In a Christmas message, President Ford said Wednesday he joins with all citizens in “observing a Christmas when Americans can honor the Prince of Peace in a nation at peace.” “It is the season to be jolly – but to be silent and prayerful as well,” the President said…
Charles Barnes provides a fascinating window into home ministry here in Idaho Falls with this post on “Nine who came home”:
Over the history of Idaho Falls, the average length of time that pastors have served their church in our city has been between 4 and 5 years, a value not much different from national averages. That value also matches the average tenure of CEOs with Fortune 500 companies (4.6 years in 2013), although if a broader range of companies is included, the average increases to 8 years. Jesus, as permanent CEO and Chief Shepherd of His church, can certainly move his junior shepherds around as much as He wants, for their own good and the good of His church. But there is something admirable about pastors who stick with a church for the long haul, who remain faithful and committed to a community and a congregation through all their ups and downs, year after year. And it’s even more notable when that place that they serve is their hometown. Jesus Himself pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown (John 4:44). But in the history of Idaho Falls, at least seven men and two women have come back to their hometown to serve Jesus as pastors.
The earliest was Rev. Don Austin. His father, Herbert, was born in England, came to America in 1887 and to Idaho Falls in 1903 when he was 19. Along with his brother Joseph, Herbert worked on farms north of town and in the Birch Creek area. He married Clara Smith in Idaho Falls in 1905. Don, the fifth of six children, was born in 1913. Don attended the Payne Siding School about four miles north of town on the west side of the river; he later went to schools in Idaho Falls. When Don was eight, his parents purchased the Eagle Rock Ranch eight miles north of town. The following year Don lost his sight in one eye from an accident involving barbed wire, and late in life lost most of the sight in his other eye as well. Raised in the Idaho Falls Methodist Church, Don accepted the Lord in a tent meeting on the property that is now Hawthorne Elementary School. In his late teens, Don went to Oregon and there met and married Evalyn Mae Kissler. He attended Bible School at a church in Caldwell, working there on a dairy farm. Don pastored Pentecostal churches in Fruitland and Albion for a few years before coming back to Idaho Falls in the late 1930’s. By then all three of Don’s brothers were farming along the Snake River north of town. His brothers asked Don and his wife to move in town and start a church. After purchasing property, the brothers drove their tractors into Idaho Falls to dig the basement of the church, and with the help of his father as well, built the church building that still stands at 260 Gladstone Street. Don served as pastor in Idaho Falls for 50 years, from 1941 until 1990. A member of his church recalls that he was one of the kindest ministers she ever knew – he loved people and would help them any way he could. She also remembers him as a man of prayer and fasting, and his son adds that it was very common to hear Don praying in his church at any hour of the day. It was also common for Don and his brother Bill to spend a full week in prayer and fasting. For many years, Don led evangelistic street meetings in downtown Idaho Falls, often on Saturday nights. Most every Sunday, his church would eat dinner together after their worship service. Rev. Austin occasionally filled the pulpit and led special meetings at other churches in Idaho Falls. He was a leader in the Idaho Falls Ministerial Association in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and over the years preached in numerous churches and held revival meetings in many communities in the Northwest. Like many pastors in Idaho Falls, he was bi-vocational. For about 15 years he ran a second hand store called Circle Dot Furniture, located on the corner of Park and Eagle Rock Avenues. Rev. Austin died in 2003 and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery. His legacy includes the ministry of his two children – his daughter Donna married a pastor and they started churches in Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Illinois and Iowa, and his son Ken traveled as an evangelist for a number of years, served as minister in churches in Idaho Falls, Great Falls, Montana and Redwood City, California, opened a work in Boise – the Boise Bible Assembly, and has spoken in many churches across the United States, Canada and Haiti.
Ron Dugone and Mike Stearns served as back to back pastors at New Life Assembly of God over a period of nearly 30 years. Ron was born in Oklahoma but moved to Idaho Falls at a very early age; on his blogs and Facebook page he lists Idaho Falls as his home town. Ron’s father Joseph worked as an engineer at the INL and was highly regarded in the Idaho Falls Christian community. Ron graduated from Skyline High School in 1973 and Mike a year later. Both grew up going to the Assembly of God Church on Holmes Avenue. After high school, Ron enrolled in Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington. Mike studied for a year at the University of Idaho, and then transferred to Northwest University. After graduating from NU, Ron took a youth pastor position in Porterville, California, while Mike became the Associate Pastor of the Idaho Falls Assembly of God Church. Before a year was out Mike found himself filling in as the senior pastor of the church, a position he didn’t feel qualified for. After six months, Ron and Jody Dugone came back to Idaho Falls to fill the pastorate. Mike stayed on as Associate Pastor until September, 1983. This was a time of rapid growth for the church, doubling and then tripling in size. One Sunday afternoon they baptized 72 people. Four lots on 12th street had been donated to the church, and construction of a new building was started in 1981 and completed in May of 1984, with most of the work being done by members of the church. The church name was changed to New Life Assembly of God, and a kindergarten through Junior High school started. Ron and Jody stayed until 1988, and then Mike Stearns, who had been pastoring churches in Challis, Payette and New Plymouth in the mid 1980’s, came back to lead the church until 2008.
Don Patterson has a heart for the Lord and for Idaho Falls, and has seen a lot of change in the spiritual climate of the city during his lifetime. He has pastored the Community Church of God in Christ since 1993. This is the same church Don attended growing up in Idaho Falls (he lived next door to the church), and prior to becoming pastor, served as youth pastor, choir director and Sunday school superintendent. Don graduated from Idaho Falls High School in 1966 and Idaho State University in 1972, with a degree in Business Administration. In both high school and college, Don was a member of school choirs and a frequent soloist. He will tell you that he always felt that he would someday be a pastor, and at age 33, while working for Mountain Bell Telephone in Idaho Falls, Don experienced a call to ministry, and began to prepare. Since taking the helm at Community Church of God in Christ, Don has continued working in telecommunications – for many years for Idaho National Laboratory contractors, and more recently for the University of Idaho in their offices at University Place. Don has spent many hours in prayer for the welfare of our community, and given many hours volunteering in community activities and organizations, including serving as president of the Eastern Idaho Chapter of the Urban League, being on the board of the East-Central Idaho Planning and Development Association, being a member of the Mayor’s Cultural Awareness and Human Relations Committee, a member of the Idaho Falls Symphony Chorale, and speaking at events held in Idaho Falls on the National Day of Prayer. Don looks for opportunities to minister for the Lord wherever he is, and the Lord brings people to him, to point them to Christ or encourage their faith.
Don Casper was born in Sacred Heart Hospital on South Boulevard. His father was also born in Idaho Falls and served as pastor of Assembly of God churches in several communities in Utah and Idaho, including Firth from 1965 to 1980. In his teenage years Don went through a rebellious period, leaving home and leaving church. Through his sister and niece, he came back to Lord and was introduced to a small Apostolic church that was meeting in what had once been a garage. Don felt called to preach in 1997, and began a rigorous time of preparation through his church. He has been the pastor of New Hope Apostolic Church since it began in 2004. The church initially met in the Idaho Falls library, moving in just after Berean Baptist moved out into their own building. The church moved to its present location on Yellowstone Avenue in 2006, and now, in 2015, is looking for a larger facility. Like Don Patterson, Don Casper is bi-vocational and is currently the lead instructor of computer networking at Eastern Idaho Technical College. If you ask Don about how God has worked in the people of his church, he will tell you story after story of how God answered prayers. The people of his church have learned to pray, and when they encounter problems they connect with each other to pray, and they expect God to answer. He will also tell you the reality of God’s love in his life and the life of the members of his church.
Todd Wood was born in the LDS hospital on the banks of the Snake River in Idaho Falls in December of 1969. Reared in a Christian home, his parents enrolled him in Gethsemane Christian School in 1974. Mrs. Sue Lovegrove, the wife of Gethsemane’s pastor, was his fouryear-old kindergarten teacher. His family attended Gethsemane Baptist Church throughout his days as a youth. During a high school week at Red Cliff Bible Camp near Pinedale, Wyoming, the Lord directed Todd’s heart towards Christian ministry. He graduated from Skyline High School in 1988 and went to Bible college in South Carolina. After obtaining his undergraduate degree in Christian missions in 1992, he married his high school sweetheart, Kristie Ann Grothaus. Born in Idaho Falls as well, she was finishing her nursing degree from Boise State University in 1993. Todd and Kristie then went back East so that he could obtain a Master of Divinity degree. After school, Todd did a church internship in Elko, Nevada, before settling once again in Idaho Falls in 1997 to pastor the new church plant of Berean Baptist Church. He resigned as senior pastor of Berean Baptist Church in 2014 and ministers currently as interim pastor. Todd loves the people of Idaho Falls and the great outdoors. His desire is to see multiple, thriving, small church fellowships in the city in future years for the glory of God. He enjoys hiking and leading Bible studies. One of his favorite passages in the Bible is Isaiah 61:1-3.
Like Don Patterson, Nathan Swisher knew from an early age that he was called into the ministry. Having parents who were very involved in music and other ministries, Nathan grew up going to many church services and activities. As a teen he became disenchanted with church, but not with God. At age 18, while watching the movie Brave Heart, God gripped Nathan’s heart with the desire to serve Him. Following graduation from Idaho Falls High School, Nathan took off to Scotland to attend Youth With A Mission’s Discipleship Training School. As part of that training, he was involved in missions in Amman, Jordan and in northern India. After being in the Himalayas about a year, Nathan was asked by his family to come home to Idaho Falls to help with his sister, who had a kidney disease and needed a transplant. Nathan, who by this time was leading the outreach in India, struggled with the decision and didn’t want to come back to Idaho, but became convinced it was the Lord’s will. Back in Idaho Falls in 1997, Nathan and a friend, Zach Blickens, founded Freedom Ministries, a citywide youth outreach that focused on using music and the arts to reach and equip young people for Christ. As their ministry grew, they met in different venues at different times, and for several years saw 150 youth come weekly to a former theater by the old Fred Meyer building. After Zach moved to Cedar Rapids in 2000, Nathan shifted the emphasis of Freedom Ministries to discipleship. In 2001 Nathan became the youth pastor at Shiloh Foursquare Church, and now serves there as Associate Pastor. Since joining Shiloh he has taken on ever increasing responsibilities, including developing teams that work with youth of all ages, leading worship, organizing youth camps, helping with the Mountain River Bible Institute in Idaho Falls and leading mission teams from various Foursquare churches in Eastern Idaho in ministry in Mexico.
Cathy Chisholm grew up in Indiana but made Idaho Falls her home in 1977 when her husband took a job with Westinghouse. She says the congregation of First Presbyterian Church “nurtured me and my children, called forth gifts for ministry, and offered so many opportunities to learn, grow and serve.” Her service in the church included volunteering as secretary, serving as elder and, for five years, as director of adult ministries. Realizing a call to pastoral ministry while in Idaho Falls, she left in 1990 to pursue a degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. After seminary, she led congregations in Illinois, Wisconsin, Texas, and California. With her 4-year contract with a church in the Los Angeles area coming to a close late last year, she took time off for a trip to Yellowstone and the Tetons in September, and stopped in Idaho Falls to see friends from First Presbyterian Church. They not only told her that that very day was their pastor’s last Sunday, concluding his 14 years of ministry at the church, but they encouraged Cathy to apply for the newly-opened position of Transitional Pastor. Cathy did, was given the position, and moved back to Idaho Falls in early January, 2015. She views her role now as helping the church “reflect on the past, come to terms with the reality of loss and change, celebrate joys, prepare for what’s next and be moved by the Holy Spirit to use God’s gifts to glorify Jesus Christ through service, worship, teaching and celebration.”
Growing up in Idaho Falls, Katie Trent had a desire to know the truth about God. Her father was a Catholic, her mother had an LDS background. Katie met her husband James in 2003 while attending Boise State University, and accepted Jesus into her heart in 2004. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work in 2006 from Boise State and Master’s Degree in 2011 from Northwest Nazarene University. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and since graduating has worked as a counselor and program manager of a mental health clinic in Boise. She is passionate about ministering to people, and helping them know and become like Christ. She and her husband James moved to Idaho Falls in late February 2015 to prepare to plant a new church, Grace Falls, here. Katie has also started work as a counselor with New Life Counseling, a ministry of the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission. We have no doubt that God has called and used many other men and women in Idaho Falls, some who stayed for decades and others who were here but a few years, some who God brought from other parts of the country, others who grew up in nearby communities in Southeast Idaho, and many who grew up in Idaho Falls and served in Christ’s body in various ways. Yet this brief summary provides a glimpse one of the ways Jesus has been at work in Idaho Falls – calling men and women to serve him as pastors in their hometown.