God used the surrendered and willing hearts of a small remnant of members to keep hope alive…
Shenandoah Baptist Church, partnering with Rileyville Baptist Church, reached local children through Vacation Bible School.
In the small town of Shenandoah, VA, people are asking, “What is going on at Shenandoah Baptist Church?” This little church in the middle of town had declined to the point of nearly dissolving. Now it is experiencing a life-giving, transforming work of God!
In 2015, Shenandoah Baptist Church was at a crossroads whether it would live or die. God used the surrendered and willing hearts of a small remnant of members to keep hope alive, and He brought Dr. David Johnson to serve as interim pastor. According to new pastor Paul Strassner, “Pastor Dave laid the foundation to prepare Shenandoah for what God was going to do. He brought to the church a hunger and thirst for God and for reaching people with the Gospel.” After nearly one year of serving Shenandoah and many years struggling with his health, Pastor Dave went home to heaven. Like their former interim, this small congregation had a feisty spirit. They were not going to quit but were ready and willing to move forward with God.
In 2017, God brought Paul Strassner, a mentee of Pastor Dave’s, to become the next interim pastor and eventually the senior pastor. Pastor Paul’s authentic leadership has brought a renewed excitement and has led to a strategy of growth for Shenandoah Baptist Church. He has received tremendous support from church leaders as he has encouraged and equipped them. He began his ministry at Shenandoah by leading the church to partner with Harvest North America, a ministry that helps churches grow. God used this evangelistic strategy to revive the church with a renewed love for the Gospel and for people.
Before long, six people surrendered to Jesus and professed their faith publicly through baptism. These were the first baptisms the church had experienced in years. Four of these new believers were couples living together outside of wedlock. They requested that Pastor Paul perform their wedding ceremonies and, by doing so, welcome them into the fellowship of Shenandoah Baptist Church. A church that had dwindled to less than 10 people in 2015 saw an attendance of over 80 just two years later on Easter Sunday 2017.
With renewed excitement, Shenandoah Baptist Church members have worked together to remodel their building (for which they received the Community Enhancement Award from the town of Shenandoah); begin a youth ministry; host a community block party; and reach local children through Vacation Bible School (together with Rileyville Baptist Church).
Town leaders recently invited Pastor Paul to their vision team meeting, and the mayor asked him to offer a prayer at the town’s Memorial Day ceremony. People in the town are taking notice of what’s going on. A man who lives next door to the church said he senses the presence of the Lord each time he walks into the church.
Church members are quick to give glory to God. Deacon Lonnie Comer emphasizes, “God is doing the work. We are just in oneness, loving one another and letting the Lord use us as He sees fit to tell others about Jesus.”
“When the church becomes the church and does what it is supposed to do,” says Pastor Paul, “the watching world will take notice and come and see.”