When You’re In Rockville [ARTICLE – Dan Imondi]

During my years in Bible college, I would frequently think about where I would serve the Lord after graduation. When I considered all of the different areas of the world where I could serve, my heart would always settle back on the northeast region of our country. Early in college I was introduced to the need of revival, yes, but also for churches to be started in the northeast. I love this region of the country, not only because I grew up there, but because I believe the Lord has given me a desire to serve Him there. I honestly cannot picture serving the Lord anywhere else but in the northeast, for the time being.

When I became a senior in college, I could not begin to imagine being a pastor of a church; I knew that was not in God’s plan for me. However, I did have a desire to help a pastor. As a senior, I was not worried about whether or not I would have a church to go to after graduation. In fact, I don’t believe I thought about it too much. But, there were two things I knew: 1) I wanted to be in the northeast, and 2) I wanted to be under a good preacher.

One early evening, as a classmate and I were driving back from our afternoon at work, I received a voicemail on my phone from a pastor who wanted to set up an interview with me in regards to coming out to work at his church after graduation. The phone call caught me by surprise! I was so excited! Not only because I had an interview with a pastor regarding a place to serve, but also for two other reasons: 1) He pastored a church up the northeast corridor, and 2) I remembered hearing him preach in the past and thought that he was a good preacher! During my junior year I frequently noticed an ad on the Ministry Opportunity Board in the Administration Building for Pastor Joe Lusk at Forest Hills Baptist Church in Rockville, Maryland. It never crossed my mind that one day he and I would talk about coming there to serve. Just over one month after our interview in January, I told Pastor Lusk that I would move to Maryland after graduation to assist him and others in the work at Forest Hills Baptist Church. The unique aspect of this ministry is that it was a church plant that was a year-and-a-half old at the time, and it was located in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

When I moved to Rockville, Maryland, and joined Forest Hills, the Sunday church services were being held in the Fallsmead Elementary School cafeteria, and the children were meeting in one of the school’s classrooms. On Wednesday nights, the church would gather in Pastor Lusk’s home for Bible study and prayer together. Each Sunday I was privileged to help Pastor Lusk and his older boys set up for church. This involved unloading the church trailer (which we nicknamed “Church in a Box”), setting up chairs, tables, sound equipment, signs, banners, a keyboard, a pulpit–along with setting up the classroom for nursery and the Kidzone. At the end of the day on Sunday, all who were in attendance would help tear down, which would get done quickly.

The main thing that Pastor Lusk had planned for me when I joined the church was to further develop the children’s ministry, which is known as Kidzone. As an assistant to the pastor, my responsibility was to take his vision for Kidzone and bring it to fruition. Pastor’s vision for the church body is also the same for the children: “Growing together in the Word, Going forward, and Giving the Gospel.” This was a tremendous opportunity not only to help a pastor but to also make a difference in the lives of children.

For this to be done, each week of Kidzone was centered on one theme. Everything from the songs to the Bible lesson to the games was supposed to be based on the theme to help the children achieve an objective–learning God’s Word. Not only was learning God’s Word an important part, but another was that the children would grow to love and serve one another. The time of growing together takes place on Wednesday nights where the children review what they learned on Sunday and also learn how to pray for one another. Another aspect of loving others would be for the children to reach out to others and to serve them–either in the local community or within the church body. This would consist of anything from reaching out to the local police department with a project of appreciation to video chatting with one of our missionaries or letting church members know that they are praying for them by way of a small note. An emphasis on giving the Gospel is made each Sunday and Wednesday when the children are together. Apart from the Bible lessons that taught the children to give the Gospel, we tried to figure out ways to help the children get excited about sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ! By now, you might be thinking; “Wow, what an awesome children’s ministry.” You’re right. I also thought the same thing. This is the vision of a pastor who loves God’s Word, loves God’s people, and loves the Gospel.

It wasn’t simple to build this framework for Kidzone because challenges arise in every ministry for various reasons. I would say that my biggest challenge was none other than myself because, guess what? I don’t know everything! I thank God for my time at Forest Hills Baptist Church with Pastor Lusk. By God’s grace, I learned a lot about local church ministry, as well as starting and establishing a church.

There are four lessons the Lord allowed me to learn in one year while at Forest Hills that I’d like to share with you.

Number one: Churches do not magically appear on maps.

There is a lot of thorough planning, work, and patience required. There’s a goal established and a plan to execute and work toward that goal. While that goal is executed, it cannot be obtained without patience, diligence, and meekness.

Number two: Church planting is not possible without sacrifice and faith.

No effective ministry is. I had the privilege and blessing to get to know the Lusk family very well. This is a family who has given themselves entirely to this work. Uprooting from Texas and taking root in Maryland, leaving family, friends, and familiarity and starting an Independent Baptist church in a community where success is not promised requires sacrifice and great faith. I learned a lot from this family, and I love them for their investment and good example in my life of sacrifice and faith.

Number three: Church planting is not possible without the presence of God.

Who in their right mind would want to start a church without the presence of God? The real world is big! It is the real presence of God in the life of a man which births the idea of starting a church in the first place. There would be no holy and righteous way for Forest Hills Baptist Church to exist in Montgomery County, Maryland, without the mighty hand of the Lord making a way for them. With God all things are possible–even in America’s liberal, political demographic!

Number four: God can use whatever He wants to teach you lessons about yourself so that He can make you more effective in ministry.

When I graduated from college, God knew me. He knew what I needed. He knew what He was doing. I needed a challenge. I needed to learn to stand still and see the salvation the Lord–not only in Forest Hills Baptist Church but in my own life. The Lord opened a door for me to move to the most expensive state in the country so that He could show me Who He is. I saw Him as the Provider for His church and for His children who trust in Him. Not only was there a lot I needed to learn about life, but also about ministry and preaching. I’m thankful for each opportunity Pastor Lusk allowed me to preach. It has been laboring in a church plant and preaching in a church plant that has given me a greater heart for the work of the Lord in the northeast and all over the world.

It was nothing but a privilege and an honor to serve the Lord at Forest Hills Baptist Church for 13 months under Pastor Joe Lusk. So much more can be said of my time there. The investment was indispensable. I thank God for it. When you’re in Rockville, be sure to visit Forest Hills Baptist Church.

 

My name is Daniel Imondi and I was born and raised in Rhode Island. I grew up in a Christian home and placed my own faith in Jesus Christ when I was 7 years old. Since I was a child, I always had a desire to preach, but I didn’t respond to what turned out to be God’s call on my life until I was 13 years old. I graduated from Heartland Baptist Bible College with a pastoral degree in May 2016. Thereafter, I served on staff at Forest Hills Baptist Church in Rockville, Maryland, under Pastor Joe Lusk from 2016-2017. After completing just over a year of ministry in Maryland, God has led me back to my home church at Greater Rhode Island Baptist Temple to serve under Pastor Jeff Amsbaugh.

 

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