Bethel: 34 years in the service of the Lord in the city of Delray Beach

by: Freslaine N. Saint-Louis

Picture this: You and God are having a conversation one early morning. During your usual conversation with Him He states, "I want you to build a church in a city. You won't know anyone, but I promise to make provisions. Call it Bethel, because it will be My house. It will gain much fruit. Will you go for me?"

Can you imagine the fear, anxiety, misunderstanding, confusion, frustration and arguing that may have occurred that morning. Or, the sacrifices that he would have need to make? How about if he had decided to be disobedient to God because such a thing was impossible? Or, that he did not trust God? Or, that he did not speak the language and would not be able to communicate with the people. Or worse, he just didn't feel like it. He might have thought that God made a mistake and his choices to life would be better.

We can stop imagining, because if that were what had happened, we would not be here today, 34 years later. Today, Bethel Evangelical Baptist Church has members in different cities, counties, states and in other countries because of one man answering a call to God's commands. Today, Bethel, or BTL, has grown and continues to prosper with God's loving grace. Each member of the body is believing the word of God, trusting and loving God's word.

Pastor Franck François, our modern-day Abraham, moved to Delray Beach in 1980, trusting that God would multiply and produce much fruit in a land that was fruitless. He moved to a county where Haitians were being persecuted and had no one to turn to for help. They were all spiritually dead and was in need of hope. With one person, God made a major impact. God allowed him to Save, Equip and Send many out. Can you imagine if he told God no.

Having seen the number of Haitians living in the area, Pastor Franck found it very clear that Delray Beach was the place to establish a ministry so that the glory of God could shine among the Haitian people. To do so, he decided to use his savings to buy a house in Delray Beach, on South Swinton Ave. The first meeting took place in that house on the morning of Sunday October 26, 1980. At this meeting, 14 people took part including nearly 8 non believers. At the end of the service seven (7) of them responded to the alter call and accepted Jesus-Christ as their Lord and Savior.

In the evening of that same day, a second meeting took place with 23 people. God blessed this group and each week he sent other people. Three services were held at that address: one on Sunday Morning, one on Sunday night, one on Wednesday night. In less than a year, the church grew to eighty people with 20 baptisms.

In light of the growth of the church, in 1981 the leaders decided to rent the cafeteria of an Elementary School that was located at North Swinton Ave for their Sunday morning services. The First Baptist Church of Delray was the venue for Sunday afternoon meeting of the youth ministry. The pastor's home continued as the venue for prayer meeting and Bible Study.

In 1983, the Church moved to SW 8th Ave to share a building with an American congregation "Church of God". Having observed the tremendous growth of Bethel, Pastor Franck and the other members decided to pray to God, asking him to grant them their own building. In 1984, the leaders of the assembly "Church of God" called the Pastor to tell him that they were ready to sell their building to the Haitian congregation. The Haitian church recognized this as the good news for which they had prayed. By the grace of God, they brought the property. God continued sending believers to have fellowship with the church and non believers to listen to the word and experience the love of God. After about 10 years, the church built a new sanctuary to serve the Lord.

Under the leadership of Pastor Franck, Bethel has established or assisted many churches and missions in the Palm Beach area throughout the years. Among them are Bethel Haitian Baptist Church in Boynton Beach and Bethel of Palm Coast. This missionary spirit is evident in its own outreach and ministry endeavors and its support of local and worldwide gospel ministries. Bethel Evangelical Baptist Church seeks to touch the city of Delray Beach through a variety of activities that apply the Gospel to the needs of the city.

Through the years, the congregation shared the wonderful leadership of Pastor Franck François, along with many other ministers working for the Lord Jesus. When, in 2006, the Lord called Pastor Frank Francois to be home with Him, He also provided guidance for the transition.

Today is a new day, a new breath, a new song. God is creating, restoring and renewing many of us to do great things for His kingdom. He is searching for individuals that are seeking Him with all of their hearts. God is looking for individuals that model their lives on Christ, allowing the Holy Spirit to transform their lives. He is looking for people whose faith is bold, and who trust Him, so they may serve to make a difference in their communities, and even greater: the world!

As our church continues to run the race how will it impact the future that is to come? Will we continue build on the legacy, began 30 years ago, that has brought us here today? Will we remain selfish or become selfless before our Father and His calling upon our life. Therefore, it is wise to get a better understanding of the following question: What is this race that we are running?

The following verses summarize for us: (1) Matthew 22:37-39.......the Great Commandment & (2) Matthew 28:16-20....The Great Commission. What does this mean to us today? The verses mean the following three things: (1) Love God (2) Love of People (3) A Sense of Urgency to Share the Gospel

Our only hope for tomorrow is this: that our church members become true Disciples of Christ. Reaching out to everyone and sharing their faith. Going out into the world and telling people about this great gospel. Jesus Christ.

Acts 20:24 states:, "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. "

God is calling Bethel Evangelical Baptist Church to become a Great Commission and Great Commandant Congregation, loving our Father with all of our heart and soul, and loving each other. God also calls for us to reach out to all nations and cultures of the world for example, Caucasians, African Americans, Haitians, Hispanics, Indians, Germans, Italians, Canadians and the endless many that live on this earth.

I am not sure if you have noticed, but the future, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, starts with you! In order to be used to make a large impact for God you need to make that first step. Accept. Accept your assignment. Pastor Franck François accepted his assignment, finished his race and has left a spiritual legacy that will be remembered by BTL forever.

The question that you are left to answer today is the following:

Will you allow God to make an impact on your life? Will you serve Him by having an impact on your loved ones and those you hold dear? Colleagues you see daily? The community in which you reside? A world that needs to hear His word? We will all be held accountable to heed His call. That is why the Scriptures tell us that, whatever we do, we must work with all of our hearts, as working for the Lord, and not for men. It only takes one answer to start a revolution. What legacy will you allow God to use you to leave behind for the future to follow?"