Stephen Houk

Heritage Baptist Church

Posted On: 

May 18, 2017

It will be eight years this June since my wife Susannah and
I moved to the beautiful San Francisco Bay area. We had
only been married for six months, and college graduates for one month,
but we were ready to tackle any challenge. Little
did we know that the Bay Area isn’t Lancaster, a place I knew since I was two
years old. Growing up in the home of a preacher, it wasn’t always noticeable or
clear what my parents went through on a daily basis…and to be honest, I took it for
granted. The first two years of being in the Bay Area, we quickly realized that not
everything was taught in the classroom at West Coast, nor could it have ever been
anticipated. The first few years were rough. Being in a multi-ethnic area, where English
is a second and sometimes third language, was hard getting used to—God brought
the mission field here! Through it all, our pastor, Alan Fong, has been very gracious
and helped us along the way in growing with a mentality that ministry is not just
cleaning or serving, it is when we are used to share the life-changing truth of the
gospel with people.

Over five years ago we had the privilege to start a Bible club on the college campus
at UC Davis, about 15 minutes west of Sacramento. The following year we
expanded to San Jose State University. God has truly blessed over the years as we
recount the students saved and developed into servant leaders today. Many of those
students grew up in the church here, and we believe that the preaching of God’s
Word transforming their heart is what kept them faithful and growing in their
college years.

Also, a huge blessing over the last three years has been to see many of our
neighbors come to church. To the left of us lives a sweet Hispanic couple, who from the
day we moved into our home, has showered us and especially our kids with love. This
has been a constant lesson to us to love our neighbors. They claim to be Catholic, but
are not faithful in attending their church. On our Friend Day in October I was rushing
through the auditorium to get something for our college class. When I looked up, lo
and behold, there they were, Enrique and Raquel, waiting for the service to start. It
caught me off guard. God reminded us that it is He that works in the hearts of people,
and we are just instruments He can use.

We have seen our HOA president, Doretta, also attend our church. She has
had many trials in her life, and is a cancer survivor. She loves our church, and has
come three times this past year.

Another family we are praying and reaching out to is the family living behind
us who uses one of our parking spaces. Rafaelle is a single mother with three
daughters. She works in the public school system, and has such a tender heart.
She loves seeing our kids all dressed up for church, and she always is very open
to attend. Each Christmas we give our neighbors a gift from our family—this
year, Rafaelle and her daughters gave us a gift. God is truly working in their hearts.
Please pray for these families, that God will allow us to see them reached with the
Gospel this year.

The Bay Area is a very difficult and liberal area. But over the last seven years, we have
learned the greatest obstacle we face is quite simply…us. When we make excuses
about someone’s culture or religious background, we really are just voicing
our unbelief in God. God has shown us amazing things, but He has shown us that
He is the one that produces fruit. We are thankful that God has not “written off”
the Bay Area, and that there are several churches that are faithfully spreading the
Gospel of Jesus Christ here. It is our great honor to be serving along Pastor Fong and
a great group of West Coast alumni here at Heritage Baptist Church. It is our prayer
that we give our all for Jesus in 2017.

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