“Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
For the past several years, the Lord has brought together the hearts of two men, Al Abdulla & Richard Stewart, both the pastors of two different fellowships whose desire has been to lead their congregations in the study of the Word of God. Pastor Al & Pastor Richard have sought to make sure Gods people are well fed in His word using expositional teaching as the priority emphasis of worship. One would wonder why in this age of how churches have operated in the past two fellowships would join each other.
That is a legitimate question they both state. In a small town where there can be anywhere between 35-40 different churches (including Home Fellowships where people gather), the issues of reaching others for Christ can sometimes get muddled. Jesus told us to go “and make disciples of all nations” and Los Banos is where the Lord has directed us. Jesus did not say “go and add people to your church,” He said make disciples. A disciple is a “learner.” Our desire is to promote Jesus and to teach people about Him. Our mission as we join together remains the same as it was in our previous fellowships: “To know Jesus Christ and to make him known.”
Our desire is to be a church that is expressed in these three words: Theological, Missional, & Relational!
Theological in being sound doctrinally by studying His word.
Missional in getting outside the four walls that we meet in to reach out to the un-churched.
Relational in building ties with others in the body of Christ as well as our community who don’t know Jesus. We desire to get people to fall in love with Jesus, and not an idea of a church or a denomination.
The Lord has sought to give a new direction to both fellowships by not only having two Pastors who share the responsibility but also adding a third one, Pastor Geno Quiroz from Marina. The New Congregation will be renamed “CONNECT.”
Pastor Richard Stewart was raised in Los Banos and has been involved in various Ministries here for 30 years and has recently retired from the Department Of Water Resource after 35 yrs of service. After leaving his post there, he has worked diligently leading his fellowship & helping to build up the Community of believers in Connections Christian Church. He has served as a Reserve Police Officer with the City of Dos Palos for 2 years and served 6 years with the City of Los Banos and is currently the Police Chaplain for the LBPD. Richard has been married to his wife Micheolene (Miki) for 33 years. Pastor Richard will take on the roles of Teacher/Elder/Counselor as well as assist in the vision of the church.
Pastor Al Abdulla is retired from the Fresno Police Dept. after 13 ½ years where he worked various assignments including the S.W.A.T Team for 10 of those years. He worked as a D.A.R.E Officer for 7 yrs after his retirement. He has spent the last 18 yrs involved in various Ministries through out Fresno, Visalia, Hanford & in AZ. He received his training through Calvary Chapel School of Ministry in Costa Mesa, CA. Pastor Al planted Calvary Chapel Los Banos with his wife Linda in June of 2008. Pastor Al will take on the role of Visionary/Teacher/Elder & Counselor.
Pastor Geno Quiroz is currently doing outreach “bridge building” in Marina and will continue to reside there. Geno received most of his ministry training at Reality Carpinteria, Calvary Chapel Santa Barbara, Teen Challenge Monterey Bay and became an ordained Pastor while serving at Calvary Chapel Watsonville. He and his wife, Vivien, served as full-time missionaries with Teen Challenge Monterey Bay (a faith-based residential recovery program for adults) for 5 years and they continue to be very involved. Geno is the accountant for Youth N.O.W., a faith-based community after-school program in Watsonville and he is also on the Board of Directors for Westside Community Church, a 2012 church plant in Santa Cruz, CA. Geno will take on the role of Administrator/Teacher/Elder and will also oversee the Missions Ministry of Connect.
Geno brings great freshness to the area of “Missional & Relational Christianity” in addition to “Building Community” as he often refers to it as. As well as the guy is “a monster in administration,”states both Al & Richard, who have been so blessed to have Geno join them on this Adventure of Faith.
We feel that God is calling us together for several reasons. This will take place by not only joining resources but leadership experience to help raise up young men & women who feel the calling to ministry. To be able to better reach our Community for what is important and that is a soul that needs Jesus Christ.
One of the most often asked question is “who is going to be the Senior Pastor?” All three will tell you that “it is obvious who the Senior Pastor is, it’s Jesus!” We will seek merely to provide His people with His instruction and carry out the vision that the Holy Spirit leads us in. This can only be accomplished says Pastor Richard “when all leaders reach that point of humility in their lives that they can give up the tight grip so often seen with the position.”
When asked the question “what would cause you three to do something so radical at this stage of your lives?” Simultaneously their answer is, “GOD!” Only God could pull off something like this in today’schurch and all three of us desire to see a new work of God here in our city say’s Pastor Al. When God’s leaders continue to remain humble they can hear from Him and effectively guide His people. Just as Moses led God’s people from the desert to their destination, we seek to simply take the hand of God’s people and place it in His. He will heal them, we can’t. He will bring them to the place He has called them to; we are merely conduits to help facilitate this on His behalf.
As of Easter Sunday March 31st 2013 both fellowships were joined as ONE for the purpose of building a stronger atmosphere of unity for the Community of Los Banos. It is the desire of all three Pastors to better reach the Community of Los Banos with an even greater opportunity of being able to provide solid biblical instruction not only in the services but in classroom instruction for those seeking to advance in the Ministry.