“For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.”

Ezra 7:9-10

My mother penned these verses on the inside cover of a Bible she gave me upon my graduation from high school. I am certainly thankful for “the good hand of (my) God upon (me!)” While I often fail the Lord in faithlessness, I want it to be known that it is my heart’s desire to “prepare (my) heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach…statutes and judgments.” The Lord has been so merciful and gracious to Amanda and I, and we are so humbled to think that He would choose to use us broken pieces of miry clay.

Amanda and I both grew up in Christian families that attended Calvary Baptist Church of Stroudsburg, PA, where Evangelist Gary Gilmore was the founding pastor. We were blessed with a close-knit church, and even attended family camp together as young children. We had no idea at that time that we would be married! Over the years, our families moved to other churches, and even states, as Amanda’s family moved to Virginia. In Jr. High, I was privileged to attend a Bible Conference for Teens in Rhode Island. The preacher spoke on surrendering to full-time Christian service, and I went forward at the end of the service, surrendering to be an evangelist! I guess I surrendered to evangelism because the preacher was an evangelist – I was 12 years old at the time, and I’ve never felt God’s call to be an evangelist since! However, I do look at that as the Lord calling me into His ministry – I just had the “spot” mixed up! I’ll never forget hearing a close family friend saying quietly at that time, “I really think he has a pastor’s heart, though,” to my mom.

Amanda and I went through high school and college with little remembrance of one another. Amanda went to Nursing School in Virginia, and I to Bible College in North Carolina. Both of us struggled some spiritually during our later high school years, and it took me really until my Sophomore year of college to get right with God, though I looked good in most in external things. Amanda also surrendered to the Lord and His will, and began serving Him with her whole heart. We are not proud of these periods of our lives, and do not glorify our sin – we simply rejoice in the lovingkindness of the Father who welcomes His “prodigals” into His arms.

I came to CBC in the Summer of 2008 at the urging of my good friend Thomas Delp, and the kind invitation of Pastor Smith, and so began my attachment to this church! I spent all the rest of my breaks working here as a Preacher Boy, and Pastor allowed me to stay on after my last summer internship in a part-time staff capacity. This grew into a part-time “pastor-ship” when Pastor David was installed – who is another blessing from the Lord in our lives! During this time Amanda was involved in missions trips to Guatemala and Africa, working at Camps, and finishing up her nursing degree. We’d connected on social media during college, and began talking a little more – now we’re married! It was amazing to see the Lord lead in our lives, showing us the right time for our relationship and blessing our union in Him. We’re not “the model couple,” but we could draw a detailed road-map of the blessings and faithfulness in our lives of our merciful and forgiving God. I often say “life doesn’t turn out how you think it will.” As I saw my life in future view as a college student, it sure hasn’t! But the only things I would change in hindsight are my own times of sinful faithlessness and failing the Lord, for He’s never failed us yet. He’s given me my “just-for-me” wife, and I couldn’t have picked a better “will” than God’s will.

Since the Lord has called us, I’ve desired to be in full-time service, though part-time has been a blessing. We’re privileged to be placed here at this unique juncture in the life of Community Baptist Church, and are excited to launch out into the unfathomable depths of what God has prepared for our Body of Believers. There are too many of you to thank for helping bring us to this point, and too many things for which to thank the “too many!” Please know that your investments endear and indebt us to you! We look forward, if the Lord wills it, to serve our great Creator, preaching the “glorious gospel of the blessed God,” with all of you, under our Pastor.

Pastor Jon & Amanda Stockton

I Cor 15:58           Psalm 40:1-3