Paul Zettersten: Finishing Well

This month the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies said goodbye to one of the truly great FCA leaders of our times.

Paul Zettersten

Paul Zettersten was born in Sweden in 1922 and passed away December 6 at the age of 99. While still in Sweden, young Paul followed in his father’s footsteps to enter the ministry. He married his wife, May, on November 15, 1947 while still in the old country, but they immigrated to the United States the following year.

Together, Paul and May served Immanual Christian Assembly in Los Angeles from 1948 until 1976. Paul resigned as pastor to move to Seattle, Washington, where he ministered for years at Philadelphia Church. He retired from that role in 1996 but continued to serve in multiple ways.

Throughout many of those years, Paul served the Fellowship as editor of a monthly magazine, Conviction (later Fellowship Today). He was named the first president of Fellowship Press, when it was incorporated to publish the Fellowship magazine.

Paul’s faithful and consistent editorial efforts fostered connections and relationships among Fellowship pastors long  before social media was around. With his wife, May, managing the subscriptions and addresses, Paul’s reliable output kept ministers informed about news and updates from around the FCA, both in the U.S. and Canada.  The magazine’s timely and thoughtful articles spoke to pastors and church members alike for many years.

More recently, Paul also contributed his thoughts to the FCA website. Read “Revival Is Within Reach” to get a taste of his ongoing passion and commitment to the cause of Christ.

After retiring from his pastoral duties, Paul continued to remain active in teaching at the Seattle Bible College. His influence there, drawing from his strong academic and theological roots as well as his extensive experience in pastoral ministry, continues to impact numerous ministers and ministries throughout the Fellowship.

Paul’s granddaughter, Erika Franke, writes that her grandfather “was an incredible man of God and was in the ministry as a youth pastor, lead pastor, and teacher for a total of 77 years.” She also notes that he served as president of a missionary outreach organization and even into his latter years helped to promote Southwest Bible College in Moreno Valley, California. His leadership remained strong to the end and at the age of 99, Paul was one of the first Fellowship ministers to renew his registration as a member of the FCA for 2022.

A private graveside service was held for Paul Zettersten December 16 with a public memorial scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, January 8 at Philadelphia Church, Seattle.

 

God, Our Only Hope

by Thomas Yerman

The end of each year brings us a special opportunities to reflect upon the presence of the faithful, loving, and all-powerful “God with us.”

On Thanksgiving Day we took time to reflect on those things we are thankful for. As we head toward Christmas celebrations, we find ourselves reflecting upon the birth of Jesus Christ—the Son of God who came to earth, put on flesh, and walked among us.

This celebratory season has to be the most beautiful time of the year. It’s a time when our thoughts and hearts move determinedly towards hope, love, joy, peace, and the One who promised them—Jesus, “the reason of the season.”

Let’s reflect on the first word in the list—hope.

Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. It’s believing or wanting something to happen. We’ve all expressed hope, but as we can see, hope defined by an American dictionary does not express any certainty, just a wish of its possibility.

Now let’s look to Scripture and further define hope. “You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas” (Psalm 65:5). This verse reveals hope as a person, the person of God. And that changes a wishful thought into certainty, both in the definition and the experience of hope.

When you add God into the definition, it expands hope’s reach, bringing a person into a state of being sure of something. Why? Because hope rests on the person of God and so the promises of his Word. Believers trust everything that God has said or promised.

In fact, trust is what makes a person a believer. Our hope in God is not just something we wish for or dream about. It’s a sure confidence. When we have a biblical hope, it not only desires something good for the future, it expects it to happen. And since God cannot lie, he is our only hope.

Christmas is the fulfillment of God’s Word of the coming Messiah. God sending his Son to earth is the ultimate expression and gift of God’s love for us. Yet, there are so many more promises and treasures that we can discover in the Word of God.  As believers we are right to hunger to know what other great things we can expect from him. God is awesome!

Christmas is a time of remembering and being reminded of how important it is to see things through the eyes of God. We must constantly be moving in a direction to build our faith so that we can hold on to our hope. They work together. When our hope rests on the Word of God, we experience growth in our faith. And when we use our faith in God to look to the future, we will have hope. Our hope is a Person of promise, who forgives us and transforms us into his likeness. Hope is a biblical principle and a strong spiritual force. Be encouraged.

“The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity—hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory—because at the Father’s will, Jesus became poor and was born in a stable so that 30 years later he might hang on a cross.” (J. I. Packer)

Jesus fulfilled God’s will that he be sent to earth and give the victory to us. As we take our stand during these difficult times, let us remember that we have a hope that is rock solid, a hope that cannot be taken away from us.

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1).

“While we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

Thomas Yerman is an FCA pastor ministering at Living Hope Church in Elk Grove Village.

In Retrospect: 30 Years and Counting

The men who went to try to rescue the five brought back to me from Jim’s body his wrist watch, and from the Curaray beach, the blurred pages of his college prayer-notebook. There was no funeral, no tombstone for a memorial…. No legacy then? Was it “just as if he had never been”? “The world passeth away and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” Jim left for me, in memory, and for us all, in these letters and diaries, the testimony of a man who sought nothing but the will of God, who prayed that his life would be “an exhibit to the value of knowing God.”  from the Shadow of the Almighty by Elizabeth Elliot.

by Jeff Martin

October 1, 2021, marked our 30th anniversary of serving here in Chetek, Wisconsin.

Martins News Clip

That was us in 1991, as pictured in The Chetek Alert.

Since arriving in the “City of Lakes” back on October 1, 1991, a lot of water has flowed under the Long Bridge on the north end of town. Over the course of 30 years, we have lived and raised a family here. To date, I have preached 1,022 regular Sunday morning messages (not including uncounted youth and other special event messages). 

Over 30 years I’ve preached and taught the Scriptures, prayed for people, and conducted numerous hospital and pastoral visits. I’ve ministered to young and old, single and married. I’ve led Sunday school classes for kids and shared the Word with “old folk,” too. I’ve presided at weddings and funerals, dedicated babies, and prayed over more people heading out on mission than I can easily recall. I’ve listened to those who are brokenhearted and disappointed, and I’ve sought to console those who have described themselves as lost.

All these activities (and many more like them) are standard fare for a “one-horse” parish like the one I serve. But in my particular situation, over three decades I’ve also moonlighted in many other capacities—whether that’s driving the hearse for the local funeral home, coaching kids at the middle school and high school, writing for the hometown newspaper, performing in community theater, and presiding at church, school, and city meetings. And, of course, the most significant addition to my resume in recent years is serving as mayor of our city since 2016. I think it’s fair to say I get around.

Since October 1st was a beautiful day, I drove out to Lakeview Cemetery and went looking for Rev. Runar and Ruth Mattson’s marker. Rev. and Mrs. Mattson founded Chetek Full Gospel Tabernacle (now renamed “The Refuge”) in 1956. It was during his time of service that the lots where our sanctuary now stands were purchased, the building built and the mortgage satisfied prior to his untimely death on January 1, 1975. By all accounts he was a good and godly man revered by his wife and children. While the church was small at his passing (frankly, it still is), what greater legacy could he have left other than being loved and respected by his family and the community he had so faithfully served.

Printed at the bottom of Pastor Mattson’s marker is his last sermon: “There is a time to be born and a time to die” (Ecclesiastes 3:2).

Since his death, six have followed him as pastor of  our church: Jonathan Reine (1975), Del Grandstrand (1975-1977), Chester Logelin (1977-80), David Bakken (1979-1980), John Tuttle (1981-91), and myself. Del, Chester and David have long since gone to their reward, Jonathan no longer is in pastoral ministry, and John presently has been serving a congregation in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for many years. Each in their time here made deposits into the life of the kingdom of God in our town and beyond, but only God can say—and, ultimately, will say—which was of eternal value and which was not (see 1 Corinthians 3:12-15). The same goes for me.

For the last few months I have been reading Shadow of the Almighty: the Life and Testament of Jim Elliot. Following his death in 1956, his wife, Elizabeth took the journals he had kept and the letters he had written to put together a biography. As it happened, it was on October 1st—30 years to the day since arriving in Chetek—that I came to the end of the book. 

Upon his death, all Jim Elliot left was a wrist watch, some well-worn clothes, and a one-year-old daughter. He had no life insurance policy. Their home in the wilds of Ecuador would rightly be considered a crude shack by any definition. But considering his influence on the cause of missions and the ongoing life of disciples worldwide, he “done real good” for his nearly 30 years of living. (He was 29 when he died.) Ultimately, only God can evaluate the worth of his ministry—and mine—rightly. Best to leave it there.

Honestly, I’m just grateful to be here. I’m thankful for the life we’ve made here, the friends we’ve made, and the things we’ve been able to be a part of. When I re-read Psalm 16:6-7 “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me” (NIV), I see our home at the corner of Fifth and Banks, the “church behind the Dairy Queen,” downtown Chetek and the nature trail behind Chetek-Weyerhaeuser High and Middle School.

Chetek Sign

Boundary lines in pleasant places.

I see it all, and the multitude of lives that have touched ours over three decades of living here. However long my service to this fellowship and this community may last, I pray to be found faithful to my call, to my post, and to them. 

As for you, go your way until the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you” (Daniel 12:13, NLT).

Jeff Martin has for 30 years been pastor of The Refuge, Chetek, Wisconsin.

Growing Needs Lead to Changes

Our Lead Elder, John Sprecher, is excited to announce some major changes in the support structure of the Fellowship and the way in which ministers and churches will be served. The changes are the result of extended discussions over several years on how FCA member churches and ministers can be more effective in shared ministries and can collaborate better—both nationally and internationally.

When the Fellowship was incorporated in 1999 an individual Fellowship Coordinator (now called Lead Elder) was tasked with connecting the regions as well as the nations. Over time it became apparent that all the tasks connected with that assignment was beyond what a single individual could accomplish. As a result, the business meeting in April, 2021, elected to divide the work into three categories, resulting in two new positions being created. All three part-time positions will operate with more tightly focused job descriptions.

Sprecher is pleased that former FCA board president, Sam Snyder, has accepted the ¼-time position as Missions Coordinator.

Sam Snyder

Sam Snyder, Missions Coordinator

Sam brings a wealth of experience to the new role, having been raised in Mexico by missionary parents and serving as a church planter in the US. As Missions Coordinator, he will focus on:

  • Coordinating efforts of our regional missions board representatives;
  • Connecting with missionaries in the field or on furlough;
  • Consulting with and advising church mission boards;
  • Assisting new missionaries preparing to go to the field; and
  • Relating to our international Partners and Affiliates from other lands.

Meanwhile, Sprecher is happy to introduce Dave Bechtold as FCA Ministry Coordinator with a focus on ministry needs and resources for U.S. churches and pastors.

Dave Bechtold

Dave Bechtold, Ministry Coordinator

Former Family Life Pastor at City Church in Madison, Wisconsin, Dave has been a core part of the Wisconsin Connections. As a facilitator and leader of multiple ministries, he brings significant gifts and heart to this ¼-time position. His assignments include:

  • Relating to regional representatives assigned to address ministry needs;
  • Encouraging best practices in regional and national meetings;
  • Being available to consult with pastors and churches;
  • Helping pastors and churches in any way possible; and
  • Enhancing Fellowship connections, communicating about God’s work.

Fervent Faith in Turbulent Times

Some are perceiving it, others are not, but everyone is experiencing it. We are living in days of darkness when evil is reigning.

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1 ESV).

We are seeing our government and other entities being overtaken by spiritual forces of evil. We are accepting the marching orders of radicals, the breakdown and overturning of social and sexual mores, and the abandonment of basic law and order. Our religious liberty is being threatened while lies, deceit, and hypocrisy go unpunished. The fear of God, our Creator, has been subordinated to the fear of man, merely part of creation. Of special concern is the apostasy, the falling away of believers.

Although the wicked continue to conspire and plot evil, the time is coming when God will suddenly shoot his arrow of judgment and bring the wicked down. “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Until then we must now, more than ever, stand up and contend for the truth (Jude 3). We need to be bold and courageous, unwilling to compromise, and unmoving in faith. “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1).

These days are calling us to have an unwavering faith and to be a bright light. We are set apart by God and for God. We trust in the name of our Lord! Having that kind of trust means that we have a confidence to stand firm based on the character and reputation of God himself. Our relationship with God is built on his character and his reputation. And because of that relationship, we have every reason to be encouraged during these times of testing and tribulation.

God is faithfully moving according to his plan and his purpose for glory. We are obliged to continue to shine brightly in our faith and for the truth knowing who God is, whom we belong to, and why we are here. True believers are not to be entangled with the world and these evil spirits. We are called by God to be separate and stand out and up for the truth, clean, pure, and undefiled.

We must remain in the Word to know the Word to live the Word and to share the Word. Whether it be from the pulpits or in the streets, we believers must stop telling stories to connect only on an emotional level with people. Rather, we must be letting God’s word speak for itself, allowing the Holy Spirit to convict the heart and change the spirit and person.

I personally believe we’ve become people so sensitive we’re afraid to speak the truth for fear of causing others to feel offended. I’ll let you in on a secret, truth offends us all. Don’t be afraid of it!

This is the hour to stand fervently proclaiming the truth to a nation and a culture adamantly rejecting the truth, but needing it so desperately more. This is not a time to retreat, but to stand up for truth moving forward and advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Messiah! “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16 NIV).

Thomas Yerman is an FCA pastor ministering at Living Hope Church in Elk Grove Village.