Chestnut Hill Baptist Church on a God-sized Mission
By Fred Comella
So, we had an election last month. Regrettably, it kind of went the way I thought it would. But there were some surprises on both sides to be sure. One thing is certain however, our nation is dangerously compromised and horribly divided. And you know the evil one is at work, when half of Americans put aside truth and reason, as well as their own children’s future, to vote against some one, instead of for some thing. Moreover, the thirst for the blood of the unborn in this country shocked even me on November 8th.
Back in 2014, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior. It was not long after that I began to really look closely at our beloved free republic and the cultural decay that has been steadily tearing it apart. So much has happened since then. It’s almost as if time began to speed up, with Revelation seeming so much clearer, (and closer). Mind you, I’d already been writing politically, when the good editor of this extraordinary news outlet for God, decided he would try and mold the sharp edges of my jagged political rhetoric into something a bit more useful to the Lord. I’m still unsure of any impact it might have on those who read what I write, but I can tell you this, it’s changed my life for the better and for the rest of my days. I can also report, that by way of my conversations with solution-oriented folks for Christ, ie: the many missionaries and pastors I’ve been privileged to interview, I’m more convinced than ever, that there is only one solution to what is devouring the United States of America, and “He” is Jesus Christ.
I’d like for you to take notice of the word “solution” in the previous paragraph. I don’t use that word lightly, because it’s never been more important for “We the People” to be part of the solution, and not of the problem. And while Christ is the answer, bringing people to that realization is harder than ever, post-COVID. Sadly, what some of us knew pretty much all along regarding the so-called “pandemic”, makes our current spreadsheet of sin, all the more difficult to reconcile.
Nevertheless, God so loved the world, that He sent His only Son to die in our stead, and be raised again, securing our salvation, should we choose to accept his gift. This one event, and the simple message it conveys, must be at the root of our decision-making process as human beings. We must return to the Biblical principles which guided our great country through some of the worst this world could throw at us. And while the journey has not been without its bumps in the road, our current posture should remind all of us of what happens when it becomes about us and not Him.
So how do we get there? How do we get back to the one solution for our national illness? I’ve been searching for that answer for a very long time. And like many of you, I’ve become consumed by the magnitude of the question, considering how bad it’s gotten; thus the answer remains elusive and complex. But is it really?
There’s a Pastor I know from North Kingstown, Rhode Island, and who I had the pleasure of speaking with recently, by the name of Ernie Robillard. Pastor Ernie told me of his simple philosophy. He said, “Fred, when the need is great, many people say to do one thing, and that’s pray, and this is good advice. I would tell you though, there’s actually three things you need to do. The first, and yes, is to pray. The second, is to seek God’s will. And finally, you need to act in accordance with His will.” Wow, I thought. I like where this is going. Action… But we’ll get back to that…
(From their website, “Saturate USA is a God-sized vision to take the love of the Gospel to 120 million households by the end of 2027. The hope is to spark true repentance and revival in our beloved country. Our country needs to rediscover the message of the Gospel and we need to cry out in prayer for revival to sweep the land. United in love, and with God on our side, we can win America back to Christ”.)
Saturate USA is an organization that is doing much more than talking the talk of The Word, if you will. They’re walking the walk, literally, by hitting neighborhoods across this land and from sea to shining sea, hanging gift packet door hangers, with free streaming apps, multi-language Jesus film DVDs, Gospel tracts, and adopted area maps. Founded by “Christ for All Peoples” President Phil Cohn, Saturate USA’s goal is just that, to saturate the country with the Gospel. For Pastor Ernie’s part, he met a friend and fellow Rhode Island Christ follower, Charlie Burns, while vacationing in Colorado. Charlie shared his works through Saturate USA with Pastor Ernie, who was so impressed with the story of his efforts and results, he began to plan his own Saturate campaign back in Exeter, Rhode Island, at Chestnut Hill Baptist Church. He was even more excited to learn that the national organization of Saturate USA, provides all the materials for the door hanger kits, as well as wide-ranging organizational support, FOR FREE.
Pastor Ernie Robillard has been active on the state level in Rhode Island since 1999, and been involved in many initiatives, and at many levels, among them supporting pro-life and traditional marriage. The 67 year-old evangelist pastor explained to me, that the only way to change this country, is to “change people’s hearts”. He also reminded me, that doing this in the Providence to Fall River corridor of the Northeast, and in what he told me the American Biblical Society labeled, “the most Biblically illiterate group in America”, has never been an easy task. The next part of our conversation stunned me and gave me hope.
Action – Pastor Ernie and wife Karen could not wait to get started. And while there was some initial skepticism, members of Chestnut Hill Baptist Church would eventually dive right in and put the Saturate USA campaign to the test. After returning from Colorado in May of this year, and after contacting Phil Cohn for direction, they moved to activate the four-part plan as laid out by Saturate USA. The plan includes, 1. Adopt a zip-code, 2. Receive materials, 3. Assemble your team and packets, 4. Saturate your area by going out yourself or in teams. Pastor Ernie and his teams were ready to go in October. The weather was comfortable and facilitated a mostly smooth execution of the plan. Help even came from the local tax assessor’s office, in the person of Tax Assessor Kerri Petrarca, who provided the teams with detailed and interactive maps, along with updated addresses for the Exeter area. In the end, using their “pack and pray” method to prepare the packets for delivery, the Chestnut Hill teams would hang a door-hanger on every door in the town, more that 2600 households. You heard that right folks, 2600. A town of more than 58 square miles and 6500 people, had been “saturated” for Christ. Boom! Mic drop…
How important is that, you ask? Well, Pastor Ernie tells me, that statistics show 7 in 10 people in this country today, are in some sort of crisis, 7 in 10. And while that’s a big number, I suppose it really shouldn’t surprise anyone. Consequently, the need for prayer in the lives of these children of God, is paramount. And so, he warned me, don’t ask someone, “How ya doin’”, unless you’re truly ready to listen with your heart.
So, in this post-election fog, and as we get ready to give thanks and celebrate the birth of the only real solution, Jesus, let’s re-dedicate our faith, so it may guide us to being part of the solution and not the problem. The Good Lord knows, we only need turn to the faithless news media and the political class, to see the evil one at work. That’s easy. But now Saturate USA is removing many of the usual hurdles and giving us a simple and effective road map to reach out to our neighbors and fulfill Jesus’s command, as he ascended to Heaven on the day of His resurrection, so long ago. Mark 16:15 tells us, And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
As for Pastor Ernie Robillard, Karen and the rest of the Chestnut Hill Baptist Church faithful, their only hope, is that other churches will be inspired, as they were, to take advantage of this new and amazing approach to spreading the “Good News”. Pastor Ernie even told me of a California gang member who was so inspired after receiving one of the packets, he gave his life to Christ, and has taken up the cause himself, adopting his own zip code. What better way to change a heart than by actually sharing the Gospel with someone?
There will be follow up as well. Pastor tells me that the initial contact is only the beginning. Reaching out and actually meeting your neighbors and discussing and promoting the love and mercy of Jesus Christ is the logical continuation of the Saturate initiative and will surely bring folks to the church.
So maybe all isn’t lost. Maybe we just need to be re-inspired if you will. “The seed has been planted”, Pastor told me. And to the man who does as I do when he is preparing his weekly sermon, I will be looking at a blank screen, and praying God works through me, and uses my work to inspire folks to seek Him. Thank you Pastor Robillard, for inspiring all of us…
For more information on how to adopt your own zip code and get started, Pastor Ernie Robillard can be reached (401) 368-6333 or firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also check out the Saturate USA national website at, www.saturateusa.org.
And remember, James 2:18 – But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Merry Christmas to each and every one of you, and may God keep and bless you and yours this holiday season!