It’s been another amazing year here at SBC and we marvel at how God continues to surprise us with opportunities to further His kingdom. You are a big part of that, and this report is the story of what God is doing in and through you, His church. The gospel of Jesus Christ wells up in all of us and brings about His mission here in our city and beyond.
This year, we welcomed a new campus to the SBC family through our merger with North Ridge Community Church. We also launched a new Español community at SBC Cactus that is extending Christ’s love to more families in North Phoenix. Everything we do as a church is focused on creating opportunities for you and others to Get God in a life-transforming way, to Get Real with one another in community, and to Get Out There to make a difference in our world.
In this report, we’ve shared just a few stories of people like you who have found hope, meaning, and purpose on their journey with Christ here at SBC. We’re also celebrating some key statistics, yet we’re continually reminded that every number represents a person and a story God has entrusted to us.
I’m humbled to serve a church that shines a light on God’s grace and truth being lived out in transformed lives. As we share and celebrate the successes, I pray we will continue to be united in our vision to carry the message of hope through Jesus our Savior to a lost and hurting world.
Your pastor and friend,
Jamie Rasmussen | Senior Pastor
My life before I was saved was by all material and social measures, a good life. However, I felt very empty, was dealing with depression, and felt lost. I had served at a faith-based camp for foster children in Arizona and it encouraged me to get reconnected with God. My family had gone to church on Easter and Christmas; however, I had never experienced a personal loving relationship with Jesus.
When I volunteered at that camp, I felt Jesus calling me to build that relationship with Him. The camp had their closing dinner at SBC, and afterward, I started attending the church. I accepted Jesus into my heart on July 21, 2019 and then was baptized at SBC. From that moment, my life has been completely changed. Since being raised from that water, all the feelings of emptiness and depression have been lifted, and my heart and eyes have been opened to the great and powerful love of Jesus.
Since being saved, I have found that while my life had been materially and socially full, there was a necessary part of life that had been missing that gave real value to any accolades and achievements, and that part was Jesus. I have since been building my relationship with God every day and getting to know His character. I have joined the SBC Young Adults group, who I would now consider a close family. I have felt a calling to serve and give back, so I have become a mentor to a foster child and will be going on a mission trip next summer.
Neither of us grew up going to church. We were both risk takers by nature and made some bad decisions that had negative long-term effects. Five years ago, Leslie’s mom was fighting small-cell lung cancer and things didn’t look good. After already losing her dad at age 19, it was an especially difficult time. We couldn’t make sense out of what we were experiencing. As a husband and father who hasn’t always done the right thing, I needed to be there for my wife and my children more than ever. It was at this time that we felt a strong calling to God and eventually came to find SBC.
We have found comfort and joy within this church. Everything from Connecting Point to growth classes has been an absolute blessing. The pastors and staff have loved and encouraged us, and our faith has grown immensely. We are now leading an Immerse Bible Study small group. We’ve been able to help others because of our failures and relate to people who are hurting or who’ve faced similar trials. We love the people in our group and cherish the fellowship. Our walk with Christ is continually deepening and we cannot thank SBC enough. God is doing an amazing work in our lives, and we celebrate every opportunity we get to spread the good news of Jesus!
Eight years ago, I was struggling with an addiction that caused my loving wife to leave me. I was hopeless and broken and checked into the Salvation Army long-term treatment center in Phoenix. In this Christian-based program, I started to let God into my life. After completing the program, I set off on my recovery journey. Along the way, my wife and I reunited and after five years apart, we remarried in Grace Chapel at SBC Shea. My wife’s faith is strong, and she helped guide me toward understanding the true meaning of letting Jesus in my life. Over the past year, I have been on a wonderful spiritual journey within the SBC family and have exhausted Pastor Ryan Heath and others with all my questions.
Along this journey, my wife and I have struggled with life, but it was within this struggle that I found God and have had all my questions answered. I am now a true believer in our Savior Jesus Christ, and my heart is so full. We owe so much to SBC and will hopefully be getting baptized soon. I meet one-on-one with Ryan bi-weekly and my wife and I also attend the marriage and parenting class at SBC North Ridge.
I truly believe because of our involvement with SBC and all the wonderful people we’ve met, God has saved me and our wonderful family. Today, my wife Angela, daughters Jouliette (10), Adalynn (3) and I are happier because of what we’ve experienced and how we’ve been accepted by our SBC family and friends.
After 36 years of employment as a shipyard worker in Connecticut, constructing submarines for the Navy, I took early retirement in 2014. Janet and I sold everything and moved to Phoenix where I stepped out in faith to pursue a Christian Ministry degree at Arizona Christian University. The move started a new journey with God, brought us closer to Christ, and pointed us to SBC Cactus.
Pastor Rick encouraged me during school, attended my graduation in 2016, and helped us find active serving roles at church. We have been working at the House of Refuge for five years now. Every Tuesday we pick up food at local supermarkets to be distributed to those in need. Last year, I was ordained as a Chaplain and took the Stephen Ministry training. I now lead a Bible study and spend time with the men at Titus House, an SBC ministry to men coming out of addiction and other challenges. This has given me such an insight into the power of Christ in the battle over addiction these men are fighting.
Through our involvement with SBC Cactus, Janet and I have grown in our love for the Lord and for our neighbors as well.
After retiring from a volunteer position several years ago, I had this “hole” in my schedule. As a high energy senior citizen, I kept looking for a volunteer opportunity. God had just the right place for me at Greenway Middle School. Jessica Neill, Minister to Adults, encouraged me and helped me become the SBC coordinator there. I help plan events, teacher meals and “Love Our Schools” projects.
The staff and teachers at GMS have been, as one staff member expressed, “forgotten.” As God has led and provided, SBC has “remembered” this most appreciative group. We’ve updated and redecorated the staff lounge (they didn’t even have a coffee pot), spruced up the staff restrooms, cleaned the outside school grounds and added 317 new plants and spread 35 tons of landscape rock. SBC also cooked dinner and served teachers and staff the night of late parent conferences and provided 15 tickets to Winter Wonder for the staff. We’re now collecting Christmas food and gifts for 10 families recommended by the school’s social worker.
I have never worked with more thankful people! If the words “Thank You” were worth 10 calories, I’d weigh 400 pounds! I am so blessed to represent our church to this community of believers and nonbelievers. And thank you, SBC, for filling the empty spot on my calendar.
How do you celebrate Christmas in India? If you are Trilochan Bag, you do it by planning outreaches in the slums, in a jungle community, with drug and alcohol addicts, and in a leper colony! Initially supported through North Ridge Church and now our SBC North Ridge campus, Trilochan is bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to dark parts of the Hindu world in India. He and his team hope to share the gospel with more than 2,500 people this Christmas season! Pray for Trilochan as he leads this front-lines Kingdom-advancing effort.
This October, SBC partnered with ZimZam Global to train 100+ pastors and church leaders in Mairowa, Tanzania, where one of our schools is located. President and SBC member Dave Meyers and his team from Kenya led teaching on church leadership, ministry and outreach. The pastors and leaders were from 52 local churches and 14 denominations. Strategic plans were developed, and 40 new Awana Clubs were registered with Awana Tanzania! A follow-up trip is scheduled in February and our first training in Kondoa (a Muslim community where our other school is located) in March!
With more than 1 million Syrian and Iraqi refugees living in Jordan, the churches there are certainly being challenged to step up and meet the desperate needs these refugees are facing. SBC is directly connected to this global crisis through our missionaries Barry and Abeer Cordova. Their ministry partnerships with local churches and pastors in Jordan help provide food to families, medical care from US doctors and nurses, and jobs and skills training. Not only are these dynamic churches meeting physical needs, they are faithfully preaching the gospel and lives are being changed. One young man our SBC team met last summer said, “I thank God for the persecution we’ve faced because it led me to Jesus!
I grew up at this church and in 2018, was blessed with the opportunity to go to Tanzania, East Africa, twice with SBC. Each time, I fell more in love with the people and the culture. While on a trip to celebrate graduations from our schools in November 2018, a few pastors and men from the mission board told me, “We have a plan for your life! Although we are not God, you should seriously pursue being a missionary in Africa.” I scoffed at their idea, but the Lord (being sovereign and having good works laid for me in advance) was at work!
I couldn’t shake this idea. I prayed, talked to friends, and talked to family. Their responses were a resounding YES! During the mission send-off week in May 2019, I made an appointment to meet with SBC’s Global Outreach leadership team. We prayed and brainstormed over places to go and what to do. That led to an email from Africa Inland Mission (AIM) saying they wanted me!
After meeting with an AIM representative, she told me they had an urgent need for a single young lady to work full-time with their Kondoa, TZ, team. I’m scheduled to leave in June 2020! The Lord is so good. His timing is even better than I ever thought it could be. He’s the one calling. I’m just obeying.
We attended a Spanish church in the Valley for 20 years but went through a difficult time there and eventually had to leave. We were looking for a new church, but good Spanish churches with accountability and solid Bible teaching are very hard to find, so God brought us to SBC Cactus.
Pastor Rick and the church, like the Good Samaritan, nurtured us, picked us up, and helped us start trusting again. Soon after we started attending, Eduardo and Pastor Rick began talking and praying about a shared vision they had to start a Spanish community at SBC Cactus. God brought Pastor Martin and Susie, and all of us began meeting weekly for prayer. Eventually, God opened the door and put everything together to start the SBC Español service and community.
Daniel, our adult son, has found healing and purpose by serving on the worship team and we help with greeting. God has done amazing things and it’s been a blessing to our family. We don’t know where we’d be without the pastors and community at Cactus.
Our healing is still going on, but God has used everything. He didn’t leave us alone! He used a lot of people, just the right people, to encourage us. We’re so thankful to be a part of the SBC community and for what God has done in our lives.
We met at SBC in 2008 and married shortly there after. In 2010, we gave birth to our son, Gavin. He was born at 24 weeks and weighed just one pound. Because he was so sick the first couple years, we attended a church where we had family who could help care for him while we went to the service. At age 3, Gavin was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Our church attendance became very inconsistent because the church we attended didn’t have a classroom that fit his needs.
After praying, we both felt led to return to SBC where we heard they had a Special Ministries department. At first, we were hesitant to put Gavin in a class since he had so many medical and emotional needs. Will they know his needs? Will they understand him? Will he be safe?
The first day we placed him in SBC Special Ministries, we walked out and felt total peace. The staff and volunteers knew exactly how to love and care for our child. Soon he was begging to stay for both services on Sunday, which allowed us to attend the service and get connected in a class.
Even three years later, Gavin sprints into class in his walker, where we are greeted by the most loving, caring individuals who teach our son about our Lord and Savior. They value who he is and embrace his differences. They know his needs, they understand him, and he is safe. Sunday is, without a doubt, his favorite day of the week—and ours.
I have struggled with social anxiety and depression throughout my life. It has always been hard knowing that God is there for me and living up to what my family expects of me as a Christian. Often, I gave up my faith because I was not able to see what God wanted in my life.
Scottsdale Bible has given me a positive environment where I can meet people who care about me and create lasting friendships. SBC has strengthened my faith and shown me confidence in the Lord. I got baptized last spring and have given my life to the Lord. SBC North Ridge and all the leaders and pastors have really been amazing influences on my life.
Izzy was raised in a prayer-filled, Christian home, but this year, at age nine, she became troubled and started asking her mom and me questions about the existence of God and Jesus. We answered and prayed with her, but she still had fears and doubts.
On her own, Izzy decided it would be good to speak to a pastor, and one morning after the service, we found her sitting in the Venue having a conversation with Pastor Rustin. She had never met him, but thought he could answer her questions because “he had one of those microphones on his face.” Rustin said she asked several well-thought-out questions during their 30-minute conversation, and although Izzy felt better afterward, she still had doubts. The Holy Spirit was not done quite yet.
This past summer, Izzy attended VBS at SBC Cactus. Pam and Izzy’s brother, Nick, were volunteering, and Pam let the staff know about Izzy’s questions. After the closing message by Karen Montgomery on Friday, Brooke Hellestrae took time to privately speak with Izzy about her fears and doubts. With our guidance, the talk with Pastor Rustin, the message from Karen, and most especially the love and care of Brooke, that afternoon, Izzy prayed with Miss Brooke and the Holy Spirit moved her to accept Jesus as Lord of her life!
I came to a place in my life where I realized what I was doing, how I was doing it, and what I was setting my hopes on were not sustainable, and I was miserable. I was drinking a lot and it wasn’t helping anymore. I met with a pastor at SBC who told me about the Men’s Recovery Bible Study (MRBS), and being willing to try, I called one of the leaders who encouraged me to attend.
Secretly, I was a little unsure of what I was getting into, but I found a group of caring men who wanted to see me find a better way of living, a way of surrender to God, and steps I could follow to understand why I was escaping problems in my life by drinking. I learned I could get better. Using the Life Recovery Bible, I found principles from God’s Word coming alive and helping me understand God’s plan for me.
I can now see God working in my life daily to help me overcome my addiction and help me live according to His will for my life. My relationship and love for my Savior, Jesus Christ, has deepened, and using the steps I was given, I can now share what I have learned with others to help them. I would encourage anyone who thinks they might have an addiction to seek help. MRBS is a great source of help to me.
I raised my grandson for 15 years due to family addiction issues and struggled not knowing how to help. I attended a recovery support group, met with an adolescent psychologist, but needed more for myself.
At a low point and feeling hopeless, I mentioned the stresses to a friend who told me about PAL (Parents of Addicted Loved Ones) at SBC. I have attended every Sunday since that day in May 2016. When I walked in, the greetings were warm and loving, yet I could not speak—the emotional pain had consumed me. After a lifetime of doing everything for everyone else (that’s what moms do, right?), I learned at PAL that I was slowing down the recovery and healing process rather than helping it. I learned to create healthy boundaries, offer choices, keep my word, and hold others accountable—and things started to change for the better.
Now 2. years later, my loved one has improved her life and has an amazing career path. My grandson (her son), now 19 has graduated from high school and is working with a great company. God pulled me through this every step of the way, and PAL gave me the tools! Now I can encourage others who are struggling with an addicted loved one or feeling alone and hopeless.
I recently met with a young man whose landlord attends SBC and reached out to our Financial Stewards and the Elders’ Fund on his behalf. Although employed selling online advertising, the young man had cancer and his last chemo treatment had gone poorly, infecting his right arm so badly that it may need to be amputated. He was struggling financially.
When he came in, I asked about his faith. He told me about a bad experience in his family’s past with a priest and said he was unsure of anything—including faith. He acknowledged that he didn’t have a relationship with God and was angry and questioning, “Why would God do this to me?” I told him I could relate to his past and probed a little deeper about his hurts and disappointments. After giving him a Bible and pointing out some key verses, I asked if I could pray for him.
He said he didn’t know how to pray, and so I led him in prayer. After talking more, I asked if he wanted to have a relationship with the Lord Jesus and accept Him as his Savior. He said he did and after praying, he said he felt immediately different about his affliction and was oddly less stressed and angry. He even stated that whatever happened with his arm, maybe God could use it as a testimony to someone else who may be going through the same struggle.
This man had come looking only for some food for his pantry, which we provided, but he left with a Bible and prayerfully, a new identity in Christ.