Pastor finds purpose in pain

Ministry soars amid pastor’s physical pain
By Sheila Allen

SWEET HOME, Ore. — A cataclysm of events in recent weeks brought a church and community together in a way never before experienced by the pastor or members of First Baptist Church in Sweet Home, Ore.   Pastor Danny Wyatt arrived at First Baptist in the rural town of 9,000 in 2005. It was a sign of faith for him and his wife, Laura, who gave up a successful home-based business to make the move. While members wanted a full time pastor, with only 30 mostly older adults in regular attendance, it stretched the small congregation to provide for the new pastor.

The church grew incrementally until most of the congregation arrived after Wyatt assumed the pastorate. The church began a weekly study of Experiencing God, a classic best-selling course written by Henry Blackaby which guides learners to experience the kind of relationship with God through which they come to know and do his will.

Wyatt had also been experiencing health problems for two years which doctors were unable to diagnose. The illness increasingly left him physically drained and although he was treated with antibiotics for those two years, he saw no improvement.

“I was approached by an organization called the Strength Team out of Missoula, Mont., who put on crusades for churches and other groups,” Wyatt said. “While they were supposed to send me material in the fall of 2009, due to an erroneous mailing address, we never received it. After repeated attempts on their part, I finally received the information in December, even though I was sicker by the day and all I could do was my sermon preparation.”

Even with his physical ailments, Wyatt sensed a “crisis of belief” while continuing with the Experiencing God studies about the Strength Team proposal.

“I met with the church and asked them to prayerfully consider this, as it was what I understood we were to do,” Wyatt said. “As the church rallied around it we saw an incredible movement of God as a result.”

In early 2010, Wyatt had a huge attack of horrible aches and pain, and this one did not subside as others had in the past, just two weeks prior to the Strength Team’s arrival at First Baptist.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Wyatt said. “I went to bed and heard God’s voice telling me to get to the emergency room. After my wife and I arrived, I saw a family in distress in the waiting room. Although I checked in myself, I was approached by an older couple who recognized me, and they told me of their grandson who was hemorrhaging and asked me to pray. I was able to pray and ask for healing and comfort for this baby even as they called for me in the emergency room. That’s why God wanted me to go to the E.R.”

But that wasn’t the only reason. An ultrasound image showed medical personnel a greatly diseased gall bladder, and Wyatt underwent surgery March 2 to remove the organ. Two hours after the surgery, Wyatt was on his way home and ready to hit the road running.

Eight days later, the Strength Team arrived in Sweet Home.

“God did some great things through all of that,” Wyatt said. “It was amazing. The team had a list of materials they needed which included bricks, baseball bats, steel bars and other things we provided. We covered our stage in plastic and on March 10-14 they performed each night. They also did four school assemblies during the day, a positive talk apart from their belief in God and each child was invited to attend the program at our church at night.”

Community members responded in dramatic fashion, filling the 450-seat auditorium to capacity on two nights. The team, which includes former pro-sports team members, a former professional wrestler and a world class body builder, came on stage and presented a show of power that included bending of bars and skillets, breaking cement blocks, then a fire break, where bricks and wood are doused with lighter fluid which simulates a fiery furnace. An athlete then gave a testimony of faith in God and a personal invitation was given to follow after Christ.

“We wanted to see people saved,” Wyatt said. “We had many adults and children come forward to make a decision and most were from outside the church. We were able to offer baptism to any that wanted it and five people responded to that. Over 100 people made a profession of faith and 175 more rededicated their life to Christ or made other decisions.

“One of the most wonderful testimonies I have heard from our members is about how relationships were built during this time they didn’t know were possible, of people working and serving together,” Wyatt said. “There is unity in the body that we have never experienced before. We are preparing to do follow-up and sent out 176 letters last week to let people know we are proud of the decision they made to follow Christ.”
Meanwhile, the church is still working through their Experiencing God study, and are anxious to see what else is in store for those willing to see where God is at work and join him in it.

“I would encourage people to contact Mike Kagan for the Strength Team,” Wyatt said. “They are doing this full-time and are also motivational speakers. They are participating in Crossover in Orlando, Fla., in June, a city-wide evangelistic effort held in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Convention each year. They are very doctrinally sound and theologically correct.”

Interested parties can find more information regarding the Strength Team at

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