An Open Newsletter for Those Contributing to the Plant City SDA Bible Worker Fund

It’s that time of year again when I like to celebrate and share the wonderful things God has done through the Plant City Bible Worker Fund. Even with the COVID restrictions God has been providing more ways than ever to share the Gospel.

As well as continuing online Bible studies via Zoom and Facetime, personal and group Bible studies in person are growing as well. This year I have been enjoying several youth, adult and family Bible studies on Zoom as well as after school on the NTCA school campus. I have also been able to give Baptism studies in the Tampa Bay area, extending beyond the Plant City community. In just a few weeks I will be conducting another week of prayer evangelism series at the New Port Richey Adventist school.

In Plant City I have been having group Bible studies as well as personal Bible studies. Some groups meet at the church while I have also started a group Bible Study at the Krazy Kup Café in downtown Plant City. This group is intended to reach the unchurched as well as those who want a personal worship service but are not comfortable returning to a regular sized church yet. The start was rather small, but it has been growing steadily, and more people are showing an interest. Some Adventist members have been reluctant to come because it is at a coffee shop on Sabbath mornings. However no one in our group buys anything (not that I have told them not to, that’s their personal business) and we meet in a private meeting room the café provides at a reasonable cost.

This year also saw several new members coming into the kingdom of God at the Homosassa SDA Church by way of baptism and profession of faith. The Homosassa SDA Church generously provides for half of my fulltime salary. This is why I rely on God providing contributors like you to the Plant City Bible Worker Fund for the other half of my fulltime salary. The Plant City SDA Church itself is unable to contribute, but generously hosts the fund so I can do Bible Work in the Plant City-Tampa Bay area and beyond. Jim, is one of those who I have studied with and baptized at Homosassa. However there still turned out to be a link between him and my ministry in the Tampa Bay area. As it turns out, Jim is the cousin of some friends of mine from the Tampa First SDA Church. Both his family at Tampa First and the Homosassa SDA Church family were very encouraged to see Jim make his decision for Jesus!

As well as doing personal and online Bible studies and seminars, I am usually preaching twice a Sabbath. While many people are uncomfortable returning to the actual church for worship service and Sabbath School, this includes some lay preachers who hesitate to return, thus creating a greater demand for me to speak. The Homosassa SDA Church has graciously moved its services to the afternoon, allowing me to preach mornings at the Plant City SDA Church before driving to Homosassa to preach. Other area churches have had several pastors retire this year, and I have also been called to preach at a few of those churches as well.

Several times recently I have been given the opportunity to preach at the New Port Richey SDA Church.

Meanwhile, as I have been giving personal and group Bible studies and seminars in person in the Florida area, I have also been conducting Zoom and FaceTime personal Bible studies and seminars from Georgia to California and several points in-between. I want to thank those who have been faithfully contributing to this ministry with their generous monthly contributions as well as one time contributions. This ministry has been successful now for over 6 years. Yet there is still so much more to be accomplished. Also while this ministry relies on the continued support of contributors like yourself, some who have begun contributing 6 years are no longer able. This is why we are always welcoming new contributors to contribute monthly or with one time contributions.

You may send your tax deductible contributions to the Plant City SDA Church, P.O. Box 5379 Plant City, FL 33563. Please mark your check or envelope “Bible Worker Fund.”

You may also contribute online by going to the Plant City Adventist Online Giving page, and go to the third line item under “Local Church” which reads “Bible Worker.” 

Thank you so much for your prayers and support!

Your Christian Servant,

William Earnhardt

Baptism Pictures and Stories from Homosassa

Homosassa Bible Study

In 2018 I was invited to speak at the Homosassa Seventh-day Adventist Church. I was told several young people wanted to be baptized and we began a baptism class. After just one week, I was informed several adults were interested in learning more about the Bible and the Adventist church as well. One Bible study group quickly grew into two Bible study groups. One for the young people and one for the not exactly so young people. For several months we enjoyed studying and hanging out together. Yesterday 6 precious souls gave their lives to Jesus through baptism, and we believe there are more on the way.

Bill

Bill is a real miracle! During our studies he went into the hospital twice, once with a heart attack! By God’s grace he quickly recovered and kept right up with the study group, hardly breaking any stride. Bill is an animal lover and has a horse. Some of the kids enjoyed stopping on their way to church each Sabbath to feed a horse some carrots along the way. Just the other day they found out it was Bill’s horse. Small world. Bill has quickly made friends with the church family. I am thankful for Bill’s friendship.

Connie

Connie has stepped out in faith and quit working on the Sabbath, so she can put all of her trust and faith in Jesus instead of her own works.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV

Connie’s daughter Mariah also made her decision for Jesus in our class as well.

Mariah

Mariah is already bringing friends to church and inviting them for Bible studies. She also is a faithful Bible student herself, and often asks very thoughtful questions. Mariah, like her mother and father, has a big heart and is often praying and asking others to pray for those in need.

Ricky

Ricky is a faithful Bible student, often having his lessons completed even before class. Ricky also has a talent for art, and is often drawing pictures to encourage those in his church family. Every church should have a Ricky!

Amberlynn

When Amberlynn heard there was a baptism class she let it be known she was joining! Even when her older sister Macayala was sick and unable to come Amberlynn still made sure she was there. Amberlynn loves Jesus and her church and is there whenever the doors are open.

Macayala

In one of my first sermons at Homosassa I asked the congregation a question and Macayala quickly rose her hand and answered. Macayala told her Sabbath School teacher that she loves it whenever I preach because, “I understand everything he says and then he sits down!” Everyone needs a Macayala on their side. Macayala encourages her friends at school as well as at church.

I want to thank the Homosassa Seventh-day Adventist Church for letting me be a part of their family. I am enjoying every moment. If you would like me to share Jesus with your church or family at home please contact me at Plantcitysdachurch@Gmail.Com . Let’s continue praying for our new members and each other!

RC and Ashley’s Baptism Pictures and Stories

This summer saw some more baptisms from my baptism classes at Tampa Adventist Academy. 

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RC (Third back on left) attended my TAA baptism class last year. This year RC is in my 5th and 6th grade Bible chain referencing class, where he has been enthusiastically chain referencing his Bible so he can share his faith with others.

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On July 21st 2015 RC gave all of himself to Jesus through baptism because Jesus had given all of Himself to RC. RC was baptized by Pastor Rex Frost in the Brandon Seventh-day Adventist Church. 

RC Writes,

I wanted to be baptized and give my life to Jesus, because He gave His life for me, and offers me a better life thank I could live for myself.

Ashley William

A couple of years ago, while Ashley was in the 6th grade she wanted to have personal Bible studies with me. She had also been studying with her grandmother and family, and enjoys studying the Bible with anybody she can.

Ashley writes,

I want to be baptized because I want to give my heart to Jesus. Baptism to me means to die to your old self and to become a new person, a person of God. I love to learn more about God. I always learn new things when I read the Bible and I always have questions I ask also. I am very curious when it comes to the Bible and I love doing Bible studies. When I get baptized I will feel more accepted in the church like I belong. I want to give my whole life to Jesus Christ. I want Him to lead me on the right path. I want to be an example of God and want to Change. I want God to be proud of me. I am so DSCF0222very excited to get baptized and I can’t wait to see what God has planned for me.

 

Today, August 22 Ashley was baptized by her great grandfather Pastor Obed Graham. Pastor Graham served as pastor of the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church when the church our present church was built. After serving as president of the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Pastor Graham as retired, and is still in the Florida area. Ashley was very happy that her grandfather was available to baptize her today!

Please don’t let the sun go down on your life before you give yourself to the One who gave Himself for you. If you are in the Tampa Bay area I would love to talk to you and study with you as you make this decision. If you are in another corner of the world I would like to help you find a Bible based church in your neck of the woods. Either way feel free to contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net

Trustworthy People Couldn’t Care Less if You Trust Them or not

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

While flipping through the channels on my TV the other day, I ran across a “Law and Order” show, or something similar, where a detective was saying how abusers always seek the trust of the person they want to abuse. I have heard similar things in pastor group meetings, which has prompted me to share what little common sense I have on the matter.

If someone is trying to get you to trust them, be suspicious. Fact is trustworthy people will never ask you to trust them, because they will never allow situations where they need your trust.

When I make a deposit at the bank they give me a receipt. Don’t I trust them? Sure I do. However they never say, “Instead of us giving you a receipt, why don’t you just trust us?” Trustworthy people don’t ask you to trust them. Trustworthy people don’t need you to trust them. They understand accountability and checks and balances.

I hear stories where a “caregiver” seeks to earn a parent’s trust, and then betrays it once they are left alone with the child. The “caregiver” put the parent in a situation where they felt obligated to show they trusted them. A true caregiver will never put a parent in that situation. A true and trustworthy caregiver will always do things in groups and never seek to be alone with the child.

A true and trustworthy caregiver will never act hurt or insulted that you are not showing that you trust them, because a trustworthy caregiver couldn’t care less if you trust them, because they have no desire to be in a situation where they need your trust!

As a matter of fact, trustworthy caregivers are just as cautious of you as you are of them.  They will not allow themselves to be put in situations where they need to trust you or your child. That doesn’t mean they are paranoid of you. Let’s go back to the bank. I am not paranoid about my bank having my money, but they still provide receipts and statements offering accountability. At church I am not paranoid about the deacons when I put my money in the offering plate, but the deacons still count the money in groups instead of by themselves, just to offer accountability and to make things look kosher, not for me but for themselves.

Abusers often seek to get the trust of the parents. If someone acts offended or insulted that you don’t trust them, beware. A trustworthy person will not act hurt or insulted if you don’t trust them, because quite frankly a trustworthy person couldn’t care less if you trust them or not! Everything they do is done in groups, in the open for the whole world to see. Part of the policy of the Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, which I work under, strongly encourages for no woman or man to be left alone with a group of children, but even though some situations may exist, under no circumstances whatsoever should any woman or man be left alone with any child, girl or boy. This policy in no way interferes with us accomplishing our mission as caregivers. We don’t need a parent to trust us alone with their child in order to teach or mentor.

A true caregiver will enjoy having parents and other adult caregivers join them while they are mentoring and teaching, because it creates a community where the child feels loved and accepted.  A true caregiver wants the children they work with to know that there is an entire church family who cares about them, and not just one caregiver. Let me make this clear. A true mentor wants to win children to Christ and the church and not just to themselves. A true mentor teaches children to be sociable and part of a community, instead of isolating them from the community.

Likewise a trustworthy person will never put themselves in a situation where they need to trust you either. Trust works both ways, but so does accountability, and checks and balances. The receipt the bank gives me after a transaction protects the bank as much as it protects me.We both trust each other, but neither I nor the bank ever tells the other, “just trust me,” or “why don’t you trust me?”  Everything is done in the open with receipts for the whole world to see as well as statements with checks and balances.

So in closing, in case you haven’t already picked up on what I am trying to say, let me say it again. If someone acts hurt or insulted that you don’t trust them then beware. Only abusers “need” you to trust them. Good healthy trustworthy caregivers will never be in a situation where they will need your trust, and therefore they will never ask for it.

Twenty Things I’ve Learned in Twenty Years of Bible Work

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

While I became a literature evangelist in 1990, it just occurred to me, that it has now been 20 years since I first became a Bible Worker in the Owasso-Claremore district of the Oklahoma Seventh-day Adventist Conference in 1993. A lot of water has passed under the bridge and through the baptisteries since then, and over time I would like to share some of my experiences over the last twenty years. Tonight, I would like to begin with a list of twenty things I have learned in twenty years of Bible Work. Please enjoy.

Twenty Things I’ve Learned in Twenty Years

 1. Don’t take it personally when people love you. That’s right when they love you. After leaving a district in Oklahoma, I went to work in a three church district in the Fort Worth-West Texas area. Everyone loved and supported me so much I started thinking I was a good Bible Worker. Fact is I was very inexperienced and was making mistakes left and right. After a few years I finally woke up and realized, these people don’t love me because I am good Bible Worker, they love me because they are kindhearted loving people. They were so good they could love anybody. Even me.  Lesson learned: Just because people love you, it doesn’t mean you are good.

2. Ask people if they like to read out loud before you ask them to read a Bible verse. You would not believe how many adults can’t read well or at all. Don’t embarrass them.

3. Don’t assume people know where the books of the Bible are. You may know where to find Main Street in your hometown, but that’s because you grew up there.

4. Try to keep your Bible Studies just under an hour. Even less for kids and teens. Leave them wanting more, instead of just wanting you to leave. If they keep asking questions, that’s fine. You can stay longer.

5. Don’t send people on a guilt trip for missing or cancelling a Bible study. When they call and say “we are just too tired” tell them to get plenty of rest, have a good week and you will see them next week.

6. Be flexible. I am a Bible Worker. That means I teach the Bible and encourage my Bible students to search the Scriptures and do their lessons. At the same time I have learned that I also have to be prepared to not give a Bible study. A while back I was studying with a lady who would meet me after work and talk about her work problems, before I would finally stop her and begin the study. One week we met and I decided I was just going to listen and not say a word until she quit talking. About an hour later she stopped talking. I had a prayer and she went home happy. Another time I was studying with a married couple who had toddlers and a lot of stress. After several weeks of studies, I told them the next week when I came by, instead of having a Bible Study I would be taking them out to eat at the local Mexican Restaurant, nothing fancy. They got grandma to babysit and when I picked them up they were all dressed up like we were going someplace ritzy. I don’t know how long it had been since they had a night out, but it turned out to mean more to them than I imagined.

7. Ask your Bible students to do three or four lessons a week, so maybe they will do at least one.

8. Be very punctual and dependable with your appointments, but if you have an appointment tonight with someone who has already stood you up three times in a row, and someone else calls and says they have free tickets to tonight’s game, go to the game. Odds are your appointment was going to fall through anyway. Nothing I hate more than turning down an invite so I can keep an appointment with someone who is going to stand me up. Of course don’t stand them up. Call and reschedule.

9. In the past, a new Bible study student would call and talk my ear off while my dinner grew cold, about his theory of UFOs and Martian invasions. I don’t let that happen anymore. I finally realize the difference between people God has put in my path, and people Satan has put in my path just to distract me from the people God has put in my path.

10. If a woman calls you at 12:30 in the morning, and says, “I would not have called this late, but I just drove by your place, and saw your lights on,” be sure you keep your distance from this woman.

11. Don’t take money from a woman who takes you out to eat, and then tries to slip you $100.00 for gas for your car and ministry. Believe me.  It’s not really for gas or your ministry. I found that out when she called me at 12:30 in the morning when she “just happened to be passing by my place.”  Dodged that bullet. Thank you Jesus!

12. I know you are not going to believe me, but I am going to tell you anyway because it’s the truth. Whenever someone mails in a Bible Study request card, do not call them! Just show up at their house. You will never get an initial Bible study appointment from calling them first. Never. I have been doing this 20 years and I swear it never works! You can call and ask if they want Bible studies, and then just tell them you will drop them by sometime, but if you try to set up an initial visit over the phone it will never work! Never! Let me guess, you are still going to call aren’t you? Okay, don’t be surprised if 20 years later it has never worked.

13. When you get a request for Bible studies 100 miles away, just mail the request to a church in that area. However, if they are 15 miles or so away, go see them yourself, even if it is just outside your area. Don’t mail the card to the church in that area. I hate to say it, but odds are nothing is going to happen with it. Do it yourself so you know it’s been done. If the people are interested and you get a study going, and decide it’s too far away for you to drive, invite someone from that church in the actual area to come with you a couple times, and then they take over the study.

14. Don’t let people send you on guilt trips for not doing tasks they should be doing. You don’t have to do everything that the church needs done. I bet other people go to your church besides just you, so why are you doing all the work? Because no one else will do it? That doesn’t make it your problem. You are not the Savior of the world, so don’t let people lay that responsibility on you.

15. Jesus is your pastor. The first thing I noticed working in a three church district was, I was always where the Lead pastor was not. I felt like I did not have a pastor, until an elderly mentor pointed out to me that psalms 23:1 says the Lord is my pastor. (Shepherd in English, Pastor in Spanish. Same thing.) When Samuel died in the middle of David’s crisis with Saul, David wondered who was going to help him now. In psalms 121 he declared God would be His helper.

16. Write down where you preach each sermon. It’s so embarrassing to preach the same sermon twice in the same church.

17. Be leery of the church member who keeps boasting all the time about being vegan. Like the car salesman who keeps talking about the nice stereo, hoping you will like the stereo so much, that you won’t notice the car has no tires, so the member boasting about their diet is hoping to divert your attention so you won’t notice their porn addiction.

18. Don’t waste so much time trying to make other people interested in the Bible, that you neglect the people who already are interested.

19. Whenever you enter a home, unless you are sure the entire family knows you are there, try to sit with your back to the hallway. Just trust me on this.

20. A good night’s sleep will solve most of your problems. A lot of the things that worry you are not even worth worrying about. They are just little distractions trying to get your mind off the big picture and greater purpose of your ministry. Instead of obsessing over things, keep busy and play a little golf to keep things balanced. The more balanced your routine the less you will find yourself obsessing over things.

Inernational Sabbath at Tampa First

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This coming Sabbath the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church will be celebrating our unity in diversity. Several countries around the world are represented in our church family. God’s love is so big and great there is no way He could express all of his goodness in just one race or culture, so He created several races and cultures so each one can give us a glimpse of His love and goodness.

The worship service and parade of flags begins at 11:30am Sabbath, March 2. Pastor Conrad Duncan from the Florida Conference will be our special speaker. Before the worship service we will have one Sabbath School class, brought to us by our own Pastor Brad Cassell. At 5pm we will have a music festival and then at 6:30 will be our International Food Fair. The money raised at the food fair will go to help the Sabbath School department.

If you have any questions just call the church office at (813) 933-7505. Hope to see you there!