In every born again believer there is a testimony of a ‘coming to faith in Christ’ moment that needs to be both cherished and told so that others might know and be glad. Our testimony of faith is part of our witness of the Christ. The more we can appreciate our journey of faith, the more we can refine our witness of Jesus. A lot of people think that their testimony both begins and ends at their moment of conversion, but in reality, it’s an ongoing expression of our love for the Lord, and more importantly, His love for us. In this blog I should like to share my testimony with you about who I am, what I’ve done, and what I am doing in this chapter of my life.
First of all, about this blog. I came up with the idea for Encouragemen when I was leaving my last post as the Lead Pastor for Gardena Valley Assembly. I wanted to have a ministry outlet to reach the world via social media, but I didn’t want it to be YouTube. I had been posting service videos twice a week on YouTube for the past several years and people weren’t watching them. They are all archived at gvag.net but I tend to not look back when posting, serving, and planning forward. I figured that maybe I didn’t have a face (or body) for the screen. I felt that what I wanted to do was to provide a venue where men who wanted to spend more than three minutes with the Lord in a given devo session could read a relevant blog and perhaps, be encouraged in their faith. The mission statement for Encouragemen is ‘Building Faith in Men of God.’ I am sure my friends in G-Town will appreciate the ‘building’ aspect of this mission statement. While the ladies are always welcome, my main target audience is the brothers. I will say things that may offend the sisters because they don’t have the plumbing (as it were) to relate, but at least they can be informed as to how we men are attempting to be righteous and holy in God’s sight while housed with our particular package.
Encouragemen is not a brief blog like most blogs. They can be a bit lengthy, but not too lengthy. For the man who wants to supplement his devo with a cup of coffee, a good Bible read, and some encouraging and informative words; for all you do, this blog is for you. I was challenged to write a book on my many travels and experiences. I thought that perhaps this blog site might be a way of writing that book, one small chapter at a time. The truth is, we are in too much of a hurry, even when it comes to church attendance. If we’re not out in 90 minutes, we start looking for a faster model. I challenge our people to be intentional in waiting around in the sanctuary or church lobby for about 30-45 minutes and interact with as many people as you can. For some this is sheer terror, especially the introverts; for others, this is just what they need. We need each other and our fellowship, interaction, and prayer is a must in building up the body of Christ in our local church. Try it this Sunday, be intentional in sticking around for a bit and engage the brothers and sisters in your fellowship that you will be spending eternity with. Talk with them, pray with them, go Dutch on lunch and get to know them. You can do this, you’re more of a socialite than you think.
Encouragemen.blog is the latest outreach iniative I am working on that I feel the Lord has led me in. I appreciate your support by reading the blogs and posting positive comments in the link. Encouragement goes both ways, especially for the brothers in the Lord who are trying to live right in the Master’s sight. I do enjoy speaking and hosting the pulpit in an interim capacity when needed. I do facetime counseling and church leadership consulting when asked or its needed. Currently I am working with a local Christian school helping with their transports, teaching inserts, and maintenance needs. I am also a property manager who works hard at providing a nice place for people to live at an affordable price. I just remembered, I have to go to the bathroom.
My story, my testimony is not as exciting as most, but it’s mine and I like it; so here goes. I was born in the mid 60’s which makes me a child of the 70’s, complete with bellbottoms, tricked out van conversions, a Farah Faucet crush, and a lot of Elton John albums (remember those? – young people Google it). I was raised in a Christian home, I had six sisters (five older) and we lived in a house with our parents in West Covina, a suburb of Los Angeles. I came to faith at a young age; as did all of my sisters. Me and my younger sister Cheryl walked the isle at a kids crusade that was held at the church we attended in La Puente, Glengrove Assembly of God. It was a week-long kid’s crusade held at night by an LAPD officer whose moniker was ‘Captain Andy.’ He and his wife and their friend (stage name Tony Babaloni) were Captain Andy and his Crew. They set up a maritime themed stage with a large, make shift ship. This three person crew went on adventures, told stories, sang songs, did magic tricks and comedy sketches all geared for children with a biblical emphasis. The kids loved it, me and my sister loved it, and when the altar call was given, my sister and I went forward with a bunch of other kids. We probable received Christ numerous times after that, being raised in a Christian home, but that was the one I remember the most.
I was a Royal Ranger from a Buckaroo to a Trailblazer, and I enjoyed many adventures with our outpost (#52). I enjoyed many lessons and activities in Sunday School and Youth Group which included camps and retreats (to this day I don’t know the difference). It wasn’t until a year out of High School that I received and answered the call of God on my life to enter the pastorate. That process is a story in of itself, but for the blog’s sake, just know God used various people in my life to help me see the light. My aspirations for a law enforcement career were trumped by a call to full-time ministry. I think that I watched way to many episodes of Starsky & Hutch, Adam-12, The Rookies, and SWAT. Good for me I went to church more and God’s call won out. I never strayed from my faith through Jr and Sr High and I kept myself out of trouble (for the most part) and worked hard at school and side jobs. After High School (‘82) I continued my education at a couple of community colleges, eliminating GE credits and then in September ‘86 I went to Southern California College (SCC) in Costa Mesa, CA. There I earned an undergraduate degree in Religion and got right to work. I married Debi (my wife of 32 years) two weeks after graduation and worked as a youth pastor in an Assemblies of God church in Covina, CA. After a couple of years there we moved to Temecula, CA to be part of a decade of harvest church plant (Cornerstone Church). I served as a youth / associate / construction worker there for five years, helping the pastor to build that church and minister to the people. This included numerous district ministry ops involving youth camps, conventions, speaking engagements, and missions trips. Temecula is also where our three children were born. From there, I transitioned in my calling to be a Lead Pastor, in, of all places, Brewerton, NY (just north of Syracuse) – go Orangemen! Debi and I moved our little family to upstate New York where we served the Lord there for three years. We learned a lot, loved the people, and grew in that wonderful community; it was a beautiful experience. I felt the call to return to CA afterward and was elected to be the Lead Pastor for a church in Gardena, another suburb of Los Angeles. While pastoring there I completed my graduate degree in Leadership Studies at Vanguard University (‘03). I also served as the Gardena police department chaplain and joined the ranks as a reserve officer after completing the police academy at age 40 (‘05). Let me tell you, I made the ‘500 club’ and was faster than over half of those cadets. Old guys rule! To this day I can still scale a 6 foot block wall and ride my Elliptigo 50 miles in a stretch. Now if I can only find my six-pack and my hairbrush. Too many pizzas; when your Italian it shows up later.
My interest in the careful study of God’s Word, particularly Eschatology, has been a focus of ministry for a majority of my pastorate; mainly due to the times and seasons in which we now live; it’s extremely relevant. After 22 years as Lead Pastor for Gardena Valley Assembly, Debi and I felt the call to move to Southern Missouri, to a suburb of Kansas City called Blue Springs. Our three children, along with their spouses and children (our grandchildren) decided to live in the Kansas City area where it’s more affordable and red; so we followed them. This is where we live now and plan to grow old, unless the Lord comes first. Our three adult children love the Lord and are serving Him in some form of ministry capacity. This is of itself is a testimony of God’s grace on our lives. I continually pray for their wellbeing, protection, and blessing in their families.
Over the years I have earned numerous certificates and awards pertaining to the ministry and outreach that God has called me toward. I believe that serving God’s church also means making myself available to the community where your planted. As a result, I am currently processing to be a chaplain with the Blue Springs Police Department where I hope to ride with our finest one shift per week and interact with the community from a patrol car; just like I have done for over 20 years. I have committed myself to the continuance of serving the Lord with my ministry skillset by attending, supporting, and volunteering in a local church, Crown Pointe Church, led by Pastor Dennis Luce, a long time colleague and friend. Dennis is a stellar brother in Christ who genuinely loves people and cares for his flock. He’s the only pastor I know with a bionic leg, and he’s not afraid to use it. Does anyone else remember The Six Million Dollar Man?
I have been involved in numerous pastoral interventions over the years with some very positive outcomes in pastoral care, prayer, and counseling scenarios. I enjoy physical activity, cycling, weights, riding my Elliptigo, doing carpentry, swimming, and spending time with family and friends. I am a ‘trekker’ and sci-fi enthusiast, but I do not embrace the evolutionary doctrines they portray. Currently I have availed myself to serve as an interim pastor under the direction of the Southern Missouri District as needed. This venture has already been very successful and I hope for more opportunities in the near future. I am known for my friendly demeanor, quirky humor, and commanding physical presence, which is code for I could probably lose a few pounds. I have proven time and again to be a faithful servant of the Lord and a person of support to those who have come to call me a friend, colleague, or pastor (or if they’re moving). There is a statement my friends say about me, ‘things go better with Rob.’ While this may or may not be true, the experience is always a joy. I have found that having an array of construction tools and moving equipment has helped me to be a better pastor, father, friend, and Christian; especially when people need help with relevant stuff.
I was filled with the Holy Spirit in Jr. High with the evidence of speaking in tongues, but shelfed the gift for several years because I wasn’t sure, at that time, if the experience was real or not. The circumstances for my experience was, how shall we say, unorthodox. Just after High School I began to pursue the Lord with a greater fervency and the Holy Spirit was really dealing with me. I received some wise counsel from a friend at church who, when I spoke of my negative experience with speaking in tongues in Jr. High, they challenged me to revisit that experience in light of God’s Word, so I did. One night in my sleep I began to speak in tongues and it woke me up. I continued to stir up that gift with more and more praying in the Spirit and soon I was filled with a renewed sense of calm, confidence (what I like to call God-Fidence – blog soon to follow), and a strong calling to the ministry. The Lord showed me a mental vision of Hell and I was appalled. I told God that He should do something about it. He told me that He did, He sent His Son Jesus to die for the sin of the world. Then God asked me, ‘What was I willing to do about it?’ I told him that if I could help to save just one person from that horrific place, than I would dedicate my life to the call of ministry. Those words moved me toward ministry and away from a patrol call. While I do believe that every pastor has an alter ego, mine was wearing a badge, carrying a gun, writing tickets, and fighting for truth, justice, and the American way!
My law enforcement testimony began when Debi and I first arrived in Gardena. Before we arrived the Lord spoke to me and said that I was going to be a police chaplain and that I was to host a Bible study on the local High School campus. After our arrival in ‘G-Town,’ I got involved with the local ministerial association, where I met up with police personnel who attended the meetings looking for chaplains. God opened a door and I walked through it. It wasn’t long before I was briefly trained in police safety protocols, department policy and procedures, and some field tactics. I was soon rolling with Gardena’s finest on the Sunday night PM watch, just after our evening worship service (remember those?). They even gave me a uniform with a chaplain badge. I was in heaven and the ministry was rich. They would move me around from officer to officer and we would field calls and have long talks about Jesus, guns, sin, death, and made some crazy ‘police stories.’ In those days I would involve myself in scraps, helping with handling suspects, taking reports, and such. I even moved the cruisers around at times. We all thought it was fine until one night I was filmed on a dash cam helping to take down a suspect. The brass called me into the office for a challenge, join or quit. I joined and within a year I was a sworn reserve officer, rolling code, taking paper, and doing what cops do best, helping the community to be safe and feel supported. I have so many stories that I could fill this blog site with memories that I will keep in my heart for a long time. For the sake of time, I will say that I was always very respectful of every suspect I handled, even when it came to the fights. I would let them choose the radio station when I took them to jail and I would pray for those who wanted prayer when I dropped them off at men’s central in downtown LA. I found that when I was on duty, Jesus was on duty and the ministry was as rich and real as it could ever be. I love police officers and their families. The hardest thing I have had to do is perform a police funeral for a fallen officer. While the police presence is massive, the Holy Spirit always did His best work in those services. On the other hand, I really enjoyed doing police weddings, but usually would have to leave just after the ceremony because, well, how shall we say, the brothers in blue can party like rock stars. We would provide transportation for their shift change parties for the same reason. I felt that I needed to keep them safe from themselves. As I grew older, I found myself being the older brother and eventually, a father figure, especially to our younger officers, who many looked like they just graduated Jr. High. Was I ever that young?
I love my wife, and we have had some rough patches and recoveries to prove it. A lot of what I blog is about the lessons I have learned while being married to this most wonderful and sadistic woman. Some of my best mistakes, some of my worst short falls, and most of my many wins, more wins than not, were all the result of God working and moving in my life, loving my wife, and the three children God blessed us with. While I was raised in a Christian home, it was a dysfunctional one that eventually led to a divorce. I was deeply hurt by how my parents treated each other, it was serve as a catalyst for me to have to fight not assigning my parent’s negative characteristics onto my heavenly Father. While I love them both, I purposed in my heart to never be like them and commit their mistakes. I am sure there are folks out there who would love to remind me of my past mistakes, and I would have to agree with them, I have made a few of my own, but that was me then, and this is me now. I am more refined, I have an improved performance, my body is by pork, and I have a few scars to remind me that I bleed too. It’s the same with all of you brothers; you are no longer the man you once were, that guy is gone baby! You are becoming the man that God is forming within you; a man who is learning to love like Jesus and who is beginning to look a lot like Him too. God is making, and breaking, and shaping, and molding you into the image of His Son and while it may hurt at times, in the end, it will be worth it!
I love being a dad. Debi and I always made our kids the priority. When the PD wanted me to go full time, I said ‘no’ because it would have cost me my kids and I wasn’t willing to give them up for anything blue. Debi and I always made them the priority and we focused on their wellbeing; even at the expense of offending certain parishioners who would leave the church anyway. One afternoon, after promising my three kids that I would take them to Rocketship Park in Torrance, overlooking the bluff. It’s a wonderful park with a lot of play apparatuses including a large old fashioned 50’ play rocket ship from the 60’s (it’s till there today – Google it).
My kids were waiting in the lobby as I finished my last appointment. As we were preparing to leave, one of our church parishioners came in unannounced with a crisis that had to be handled right then. I apologized to her and said that I couldn’t see her just then because I had another important appointment. She asked for only a few minutes, but I told her that I was already running late. She was noticeably disappointed and left while I loaded up my kids in our Suburban and off to the park we went. The realized that they were the important appointment and I confined it by telling them that they are more important than any parishioner or crisis that may manifest in that church. Over the years they had to learn to give and take at times, but they knew that they were the priority. When we got a pastor’s appreciation offering, we would share it with them at the local Toys-R-Us. When I would roll with the PD on Sunday nights, I would first tuck them in, telling them that I needed to ride because there were other kids out there whose daddy’s were cops who needed some of my ‘daddy time.’ They didn’t seem to mind sharing as long as we made them the priority, and we did. Today they love the Lord, His local church, and are growing in their faith. Brother, if you want to love your wife more, love her kids more!
I love teaching Eschatology because I feel that it’s relevant. Too many pastors and churches out there don’t have a eschatological platform in their ministry portfolio. I have trained many ministers over the years at our School of Ministry on this subject and I have written and spoken on the topic for years. I am so looking forward for Jesus’ return that I can almost taste whatever it is they are serving at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. I hope it’s not lamb, that would be inappropriate I think. I long to be with the Lord and all those who have loved His appearing, my brothers and sisters in the Lord. I love the Jewish people, God’s chosen people whom He used to bring us the Messiah and I pray for Israel regularly (Psalm 122:6-9). I love God’s Word, I love studying God’s Word, and preaching and teaching God’s Word, and I need it more and more the older I get. There’s a power in the Word and in the Spirit and when we combine the two, we get a force to be reckoned with. This same power is restraining unprecedented evil in this world and when we leave, so does the restraining power. It’s best to get saved now, before we fly. It’s the only real way to prepare for the seven-year tribulation.
This is my testimony, thanks for reading; it’s a gift from God. I hope you can appreciate my journey and some of the sick humor. I hope to be able to speak with you one day, perhaps soon, just on the other side of the veil. Until then, keep the faith, fight the good fight, and continue to love like Jesus loves, beginning with those closest to you. We’ll be home soon and this world and its ways will be in our rear view mirror; for a little while anyway.
Blessings and Maranatha!
Encouragemen is a blog written by Pastor Rob Lee, recently relocated to Southern Missouri. He lives with his wife of 32-years, near their three adult children, their spouses, and children (their grandchildren). Pastor Rob is an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, a former Lead Pastor (25 years), police chaplain, and community advocate. He continues to serve, consult, and disciple men of God, including those who are in the ministry.
One thought on “My Personal Testimony of Faith”
This was a great read, very encouraging!
I appreciate you and your faithfulness and integrity. Thank you for sharing and caring.