“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” II Timothy 3:1-5
“Perilous times” have laid siege to California. No survey or study is necessary to substantiate this reality. Nevertheless, California is no different from any other state or, for that matter, any other place in the world. Its skyline might be shaped by a distinct culture and rapid growth technology, but the spiritual temperature is indistinguishable from any other location on the map.
However, to the glory of our Lord, there is also no denying that amazing strides are being made in His work on this coast. Having lived here for nearly 60 years, I can personally attest that the condition of the New Testament local church in California is stronger now than it has ever been; and I am pleased to share the following report with our fellow laborers:
1. California has more independent, fundamental Baptist churches now than any other time in its history. We may have had 25-30 good churches back in the 1950s and 1960s, but there are now well over 100 strong churches scattered all over the state.
2. California has more young people attending Christian schools now than in years past.
3. California has more young people attending Bible college. From our ministry alone, there are 61 young people enrolled in Bible college, preparing for full-time Christian service. That number increases by leaps and bounds as we consider the young men and women attending Bible college from any of the 100+ independent, fundamental Baptist churches in California.
4. When I was a young boy growing up in California, there was not one church in the state that averaged 1,000 people in attendance. I can now point to many churches that average 1,000 or more in attendance.
5. More is being accomplished with the Bus Ministry than ever before in the history of California. Hundreds of buses—“wheels of mercy”—are picking up men and women, boys and girls and bringing them to the house of God every Sunday.
6. Churches in California are now sending more missionary dollars to the foreign field than ever before.
7. More people in California are using the King James Bible now than any other time in the nearly 60 years I have lived here.
Such a report cannot be traced to man but solely to God. “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23). In the past several decades, I have seen the Lord bring young men to this state to serve Him; and now—10, 20, 30 years and more later—they are still serving Him and the people He has entrusted to them. God has used these faithful men to establish other churches in California, send young people to Bible college, and ultimately, mobilize this state for a greater harvest.
Please understand—I am not suggesting that California will soon be exempt from these “perilous times” or that revival is rampant on the west coast. “Sin lieth at the door” here as it does everywhere else, yet we see evidence of the Lord’s hand of blessing throughout California. You, too, can trace the hand of God in your own state, across America, and around the world. It is my prayer that each of us will “consider how great things he hath done for you” and for His work today. Yes, the hour is late; and yes, sin is abounding; but may we never forget that our God is still in control and still blessing His people.