Bro. Bjorklund isn’t a man that is brought up in most blogs relevant to “church planting”. In fact, not many even know who he is. In 1962, he was the man who came knocking on my parent’s door inviting them to come to church. It was West Gate Baptist Church in Kenner, LA. The church was small and struggled to have many on Sundays. Most would say, Bro. Bjorklund was “wasting his time”, “why not pull out of that mess and do something worthwhile?” Yet he stayed on the task! He was running the race where God had put him! He left West Gate after 5 years of work. Some said he failed. Admittedly, the church itself never became that fruitful. He moved on to plant another church in Terrytown, LA where the church was more successful. After getting that church fully off the ground, he retired.
Some were glad he saw success there before he retired. But what defined his success; a church that ran more in attendance or a clear line of disciples that follows him? While he was at West Gate, he was the man whose preaching caused my Mother to turn in repentance to the Lord and receive Christ as her Savior. He was the man who patiently worked with my Father, coming by his side to disciple him. My Dad’s own testimony was that he had “grossly wasted his early years not serving the Lord” though he was saved at age 12. Under Bro. Bjorklund’s preaching, the Word of God caused him to learn faithfulness as he repented of his erring ways. Dad says he “grew greatly under his preaching and teaching” and he “leaned on him as a mentor”. “He had the most profound effect upon my life, more than any other!” It was because of that mentoring that Dad found the courage to answer God’s call to the ministry. After surrendering to the ministry and being licensed to preach by West Gate, my Dad moved on to Lafayette, LA where he helped a struggling mission work. Later he was instrumental in starting two church plants, one near Monroe, LA and the other in Raton, NM. With each church plant he invested four years in the lives of others. For 12 years people gave their lives to the Lord and grew in grace.
In 1977, my Dad moved our family from Raton, NM to Picayune, MS. He returned to his roots to pastor his home church Lee’s Chapel Baptist where he pastored for 26 years. I don’t even really know that one can measure the fruit of his ministry there. My Dad is no Adrian Rogers, but I do know that Lavell Lee served the generation of people in that community faithfully! Many were saved and some young men surrendered to preach. I was among that number! We all know that it was God’s grace that did the work in my life (Phil 2:13), Dad was just a tool of His. Since then I’ve had the amazing privilege to serve the Lord, preach the gospel, and mentor others.
It’s been a little over 50 years that Bro. Bjorklund impacted my Mom and Dad. His passion was discipling and church planting. My Dad has impacted the lives of others through preaching, discipling, church planting and pastoring. For a long time I wanted to plant a church, even as early as 1998. In my mind I thought it was only because my Dad did church planting work. One cannot be “Daddy Called” when it comes to church planting. But the longer I have prayed and thought it through; it has dawned on my heart that all of that did not happen by mistake. It is part of my DNA… a calling… …Anders Lee…named after Bro. Bjorklund – “Anders” Bjorklund. Yeah… I was named after him! Do you think his time was wasted? Was that West Gate mission unfruitful? Of course not… that church planter finished his race! His fruit continues today! He and Dad have inspired me to finish my race! I must plant a church for the Glory of God and make disciples. I hope 50 years from now, if Christ doesn’t come before, that some young guy whose Dad came to Central will be writing a story about being called to plant a new church too!
Time to Toil…
Colossians 1:28, 29