This has been a year like none other. Every one of us has experienced change and uncertainty as we navigate new territory. But in challenging times, the light of Christ shines brighter and His grace is even more apparent. Although our world and lives look different, we have a secure hope and a renewed calling to share the good news with people in desperate need.
In this report, we’ve highlighted just a few of the stories and numbers that are evidence of God’s faithfulness at SBC. I am humbled by how you have embraced new ways to worship and connect online while finding meaningful ways to reach out to those in need. You’ve helped our neighbors by giving of your resources and time. You’ve shown genuine care through your words and actions. And you’ve shared the hope of Jesus Christ with those around you.
This fall, we communicated a vision of pulling together to go further that was born out of concerted prayer about SBC’s future. As a result, we are focused on becoming more intergenerational in our ministry and reaching further into our community. You have embraced this vision, and today we are seeing the fruits of growth and expanded ministry at SBC.
God is at work changing lives here in the Valley and around the world, and I’m excited for where He will lead us in 2021. While He is using this challenging time to stretch and grow us in unique ways, I’m looking forward with great anticipation to the day when we can all be together again, enjoying in-person interaction and community as a church family.
As we celebrate God’s faithfulness in 2020 and prepare for the days ahead, I pray we will detach our minds and hearts from worldly concerns and attach our hopes on Jesus and His kingdom. May we have a fresh vision and passion to Get God, Get Real and Get Out There for His glory.
Over the past year, we have drastically changed our view of how the Church gathers. We met in living rooms, kitchens and at dining tables. Thousands joined together to worship, pray and learn—not just here in the Valley, but around the world. In the midst of it all, our church has continued to GROW.
Together with the global church, we are rethinking how we measure growth. Through solidifying our new online campus, surveying, and digital analytics, we now have a better understanding of SBC’s global impact.
In a year that has been anything but steady, SBC has seen attendance that is consistently up 13% since 2019 and we are reaching people across the nation and on six continents!
SBC has been online for years, reaching people around the world with our weekly services and a library of past sermons on our app and website. Due to Covid-19, we decided to make some changes to better serve the needs of people unable to physically attend our campuses.
We recently hired our first Online Campus Pastor, Ryan Heath, and added features to our website that allow people who are worshiping with us online to not just view our services, but interact with others, engage in community, and even pray directly with pastors and volunteers during a service.
“In the few short months I have been serving as our Online Campus Pastor,” said Ryan, “God has opened the door to minister to needs all across our country and even the world! I have prayed with a man journeying through a medical trial that lives in Chicago, ministered to a gentleman in Texas processing a painful divorce, and even had the privilege of praying with a woman in Santa Fe to receive Jesus Christ. It was amazing sitting on the phone with her as she pulled her car over on the side of the road in New Mexico, eager to begin a relationship with Christ.”
These are just a few quick highlights, and we are thrilled to see what God will do through our Online Campus ministry and Ryan’s team. It is exciting to have another tool for being witnesses for Jesus “to the ends of the earth.”
SBC North Ridge and our church family have been a huge blessing this year. We’ve attended SBC for five years and became members of SBC North Ridge last year. After I received a Stage 4 cancer diagnosis, our church family gathered around us and loved on all of us immediately. We have been tremendously blessed by the continuous encouragement, prayers, and support by both the incredibly caring staff and the whole church family.
Barely a day goes by that we do not get some sort of contact by any one of our church family members. We’ve been so humbled throughout this difficult time. We enjoy telling family and friends about our church and how it feels to be part of a church as defined in the New Testament.
We are grateful to be able to reveal God’s glory in all of this and show the world how God is moving both in our church and in our lives. Words cannot fully express what it means to be a part of SBC. We continue to pray for a miraculous healing, and that SBC North Ridge continues to impact the community around us as God leads us to accomplish His purpose.
My life experiences have always had a strong hold on my thoughts—why me? I played the victim role very well. I’ve experienced some pretty bad things and made some terrible decisions with long-term effects. I looked to people and other sources to help me find wholeness. Through relationships, I sought a magic pill that would make all my troubles disappear. A person could surely do that, right?
As an adult, I observed that Christians had such a joy to them, and I wanted what they had. Eventually, I decided to try church. I thought if I walked through the doors, I would be struck by lightning and judged. Never once! Through this experience, I accepted Jesus into my life. Since then, I’ve grown stronger in my faith and God has helped me break the strongholds of fear, insecurity and anxiety in my life.
I have been blessed to find a church family at SBC that has taken me in and accepted me as Jesus has, with all my bumps, bruises and imperfections. When Covid hit, I wanted to pursue my journey and needed fellowship. That’s when Online Life Groups became available.
My group and I have spent the last five months growing in our faith, relying on each other, sharing struggles and successes, praying for each other, and becoming a true family in our faith. The funny thing is, we haven’t gotten together in person, but I know I could call these people any time and they would be there for me. I can truly say I am a different person by being with this group of people each week. The uncertain times have not been terribly stressful due to my Online Life Group and I’ve found a path to freedom through Jesus Christ, fellowship and SBC.
Born and raised Jewish, I always believed in God, but as an adult, I drifted from my faith and focused on the next good time. My 30s were all about starting a family, making money, and creating a name for myself. I had wealth, a beautiful wife, two amazing kids, and all the toys I wanted, but began to feel something was missing—a hole that nothing could fill. And then we hit challenging times.
All the money and possessions began to disappear, my father was diagnosed with cancer, and I didn’t know how to cope with the stresses. I began drinking heavily to calm my nerves. Without faith in anything but myself, I believed I was letting everyone down, especially myself. I became severely depressed, and when my wife eventually left me, my drinking went off the charts. I was alone, afraid, confused and dependent upon alcohol. I neglected my job, family and friends and eventually lost the will to live, deciding my kids would be better off without me.
I believed in hell and didn’t want to go there, so on the day I was planning to commit suicide, Christmas 2017, I decided to pray to God to justify my decision. In a profound way, God let me know it wasn’t my time and all I needed to do was trust in Him. At that moment, I completely surrendered myself to Him and everything changed.
I couldn’t deny what had happened to me and wanted to know more. I started with AA and then got involved in Men’s ministry, discipleship and serving at SBC. I now see life through different eyes. I no longer struggle with alcohol or feel alone. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and the hole has been filled. I know God has my back, and if all I have left in this world is Jesus, I know I have all I will ever need.
Have you ever thought what it would be like to adopt 80-90 kids or people at one time? Maybe a bit overwhelming? When our Community Connections class was approached about adopting Special Ministries, our eyes dilated, and our mouths fell open.
We asked Director Carolyn Meyers what that would look like and she gave us 12 options of ways to love on ‘her people.’ Since this was an invitation to our whole class, we felt all should weigh in and developed an adoption paper with a place to register your decision—Yes or No. But buy-in is crucial, so we asked all to check the places they were willing to serve. With a unanimous ‘Yes’ we proceeded to serve.
Our most recent adventure was buying yellow sunshine boxes and filling them with all the fun yellow items we could find. Think yellow sunglasses, squeeze balls, water bottles, markers, a tube sock and stick on googly eyes so you could make a hand puppet. Of course, there had to be yellow Lays Potato Chips and a handwritten love note!
October 15th found 30 of us filling 90 boxes, praying over them, and celebrating with Dilly Bars! But wait! Over the next two days, we delivered them to our friends in 35 zip codes. Then Sunday, in Community Connections, we shared with laughter and tears what had happened to US as we hand delivered the Sunshine Boxes!
We are forever changed and in awe of their appreciation. They are amazing and filled with tenacity and raw courage. They taught us!
During this year of uncertainty and fear in our culture, you shared the hope and light of Christ by meeting needs in our city. Together with our local ministry partners, the people of SBC are providing encouragement, care and support in His name.
Mentorkids USA, an SBC local outreach partner, runs an after-school program to help kids with homework, share Jesus, and offer crafts and sports. In the Palomino “square” area just north of SBC Cactus, which is 70% Hispanic, Covid created an even greater challenge for families. When Director Nora Espinoza met with SBC Español Pastor Martin Gonzalez this August, they discussed a vision to expand the MentorKids after-school program by hosting kids of working parents during school hours. Since SBC Cactus had some weekday space available, the staff and SBC leadership immediately jumped on board and opened the doors.
For three months, SBC Cactus hosted more than 50 kids, four days a week. SBC Outreach provided partial funding for staffing. SBC Cactus provided a safe place to study, air-conditioning, internet, pastoral presence, and many volunteers to help with homework, crafts, sports, singing and Bible stories.
Now that the kids and parents know about SBC Cactus, we look forward to seeing how God will expand His Kingdom in the Palomino neighborhood through His people at SBC.
I think all moms are facing a dilemma. For me, it’s the language. I understand very little English and although I knew Mia’s teacher by name and saw her on screen, I could never have a conversation with her because I don’t speak English. Also, my little girl couldn’t handle the computer very well. The [MentorKids] teacher, Alejandra, helped me communicate with Mia’s teacher and told me about the program at SBC. For me, that was great news! I work cleaning houses but had to stop working because we needed to help Mia with school. That presented a big difficulty. We were in crisis time with the economic pandemic and everything.
Now I’ve been able to go back to work, and the MentorKids teachers help Mia with her homework. She loves doing her schoolwork at the church. For a long time, we were locked in our homes, but I always told her she’d be alright. Now, she’s very happy, and on the days she doesn’t go to MentorKids, she misses it. Mia used to be very shy and didn’t talk much, even with us. Now, she is more expressive, more sociable. She also eats better, more fruits and vegetables, and gets more exercise.
The other day Mia said, “Mommy, I have told you that I love you very much and Daddy too, but I love Jesus more!” At least I cannot be jealous of God! I too have taught her that God is the Creator of everything, that this God loves us above all things. He is the one who cares for us. Because of Him, we eat, we breathe and do everything. Thank you to the teachers, church and friends!
When Pastor Jamie challenged us to get out there and serve our community, the three of us started talking about how we could use our abilities and positions to serve the Native First Nations people.
As senior lay leaders with SBC’s Stephen Ministry program, Don Davis and I (Ed Reams) have hearts for meeting needs through this ministry that provides one-to-one care to those experiencing life challenges such as grief, divorce, job loss, illness, or relocation. From all walks of life, Stephen Ministers share a passion to bring Christ’s love and care to people during times of need. Don is also the former Phoenix Area Director of Indian Health Services, and Huron Claus is president of CHIEF, Inc. (Christian Hope Indian Eskimo Fellowship), giving them both familiarity with the needs of the Native tribes in our region. Together, we formed a collaboration between SBC, Stephen Ministry, and CHIEF to help provide care for up to 6.7 million Native First Nations people.
Our plan is to empower and equip four Native churches who will offer Stephen Ministry training to local Christian leaders and lay people to serve the 94,000 Native population of Phoenix. The next phase provides training for Navajo pastors and lay leaders to reach their specific tribe of 350,000 through the 500 Navajo churches on their reservation. SBC has set aside $20,000 to provide ministry and support to the Navajo Nation. Of all the Native American Reservations, the Navajo Nation was one of the hardest hit by the Covid virus in 2020. On March 17, the first two cases were reported, and by early November, more than 11,900 cases and 580 deaths had been reported.
Many Native tribes are on lockdown due to the virus, but once lifted, there will be an unprecedented opportunity for the Native Christian churches to minister to their people through efforts like Stephen Ministry. Thank you, SBC, for partnering with us to reflect the love of Jesus Christ to the Native First Nations people.
Together with our missionaries and partner agencies, we’re reaching the unreached, equipping the global church and defending the vulnerable as we demonstrate the love of Jesus.
In 2020, Covid-19 prevented us from traveling abroad or sending our spring and summer mission teams. But that didn’t stop us from visiting our missionaries virtually! This summer, we shared virtual trips via video to Jordan, the Czech Republic, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Italy, Mexico, Thailand and India. We also shared how SBC is providing Covid-19 relief around the world. Each video gives a snapshot of how God is using our global partners to share the gospel in the countries they serve.
I grew up at SBC and was sent out to serve in Europe with the Navigators. I’ve served among university students in Strasbourg, France and now in the U.K. (Scotland). God is at work among the young adults in Europe! We are also reaching out to international students who are studying in Europe. The fields are definitely ripe for the harvest. We host Bible studies for students who are both seekers and new believers in Jesus. We show them what being part of a loving, Christian community can look like by introducing them to the truth of God’s Word.
My call to “go” to the nations came during an SBC shortterm trip to Slovakia. I felt the Lord asking me to join Him in what He was doing. I remember telling others about it, and most said the feeling would pass (like the flu), but it never did. I kept coming back to Slovakia and the sense of calling just grew. Four years later, I arrived with two suitcases. Now, 15 years later, we’re planting a new church that is simple, smaller and focused on Jesus—one that’s understandable and accessible for our unchurched friends. Already some of those gathering with us have expressed a desire to go deeper and learn more about Jesus and the Bible.
Daphne and I have been part of SBC since 2006. I am VP of Mission ONE, a ministry that works through the global church to provide creative solutions, training, and support to help strengthen communities and bring hope to people in the hard places. Working with national and indigenous leaders, we are making communities more like the Kingdom of God. I also serve the global church as a writer and resource provider. I recently completed co-editing Honor, Shame, and the Gospel: Reframing Our Message and Ministry (William Carey Publishers) and wrote The Global Gospel in 2015. My current project is empowering women in the Middle East!
Like the wise men at Jesus’ birth heard and obeyed the call, I received God’s call to missions from three wise followers of Jesus. I was unprepared for how powerfully inspired I would be by what God was asking. He also brought three gifts that changed my life.
The first gift was the SBC Global Resource Team. When asked to join, I was blown away that SBC had a team that stewards our missionaries and allots resources with such care and love. God placed my name on the team leader’s heart, and it matched my prayer to do more missions-related service.
Second, I was invited to be part of the Tanzania teacher team in 2016. I said yes and have gone on three incredible trips. This past October, I conducted a career training and am overwhelmed by how much God is doing through SBC in Mairowa and Kondoa. The schools are beyond amazing, providing a Christian education, physical nourishment, and selfless service by the staff, teachers and administrators.
The third call was an invitation to attend a January 2020 Mission ConneXion Conference in Portland. We went asking God if He wants to make Arizona a sending state. The momentum built and I’m now part of the Mission ConneXion Southwest Steering Committee planning a conference here in November 2021. God has truly guided my path and I’m excited to help further missions at SBC and in our region.
I grew up in Michigan, where I had close friends, family, and a strong desire to know more about God. When I was six years old, my sister and I accepted God into our hearts. Later, when I was eight, we had family issues, so my mom asked God what to do and where to go. She heard from God that we needed move to Arizona.
After a year of living here, my dad left us to move back to Michigan. I became depressed and anxious and turned away from God because I was mad at Him for all the things that had happened involving my family separating, poor self image, and the feeling of abandonment.
Every day, I thought about taking my own life and was planning to do it. But one day, I felt so tired from running away from God and had this calling to come back home to Him, so I opened my Bible and started reading. I finally felt this sense of hope that I had longed for, and that hope was in Jesus Christ.
I now know that God has plans for me and that He has used bad situations to form me into the woman of Christ I am meant to be. Now, SBC and my HSM (high school) group show me how important it is to surround yourself with God-loving people. I was baptized this fall and now do my best to give God the glory throughout my life because of what He has done and will do for me.
We have been serving in the YTH ministry for six years and are passionate about the importance of community and mentorship during the high school years. We’ve learned that serving alongside people breaks down walls and builds deep relationships. We wanted our students to experience the blessing of serving alongside each other, so we started looking for ways to involve students in serving our community.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 28, to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” and although the Church sends out many missionaries, the shocking reality is that 59% of the world’s population lives among unreached people groups who are mostly inaccessible to us. Yet currently, we have 90,000 refugees living in Arizona, the vast majority from unreached people groups. All these people from communities who have never heard of Jesus, living 20 minutes down the road! God has literally made them our neighbors. What is often called the ‘refugee crisis’ is really an incredible opportunity.
Through YTH Serves, in partnership with GoTen, we create a doorway to these relationships by hosting a twice monthly kids club at an apartment complex in Phoenix that is 90% refugees. We share the gospel through stories, games, crafts, and simply having fun together. Our prayer is that over the course of their involvement in youth ministry, SBC students will have built deep relationships with the refugee community and have a view of the world that is bigger than their neighborhood. They can see how their small story is really part of a much larger story—the story of Jesus’ redemptive work in the world from creation until His return.
A few weeks ago, I was walking onto the campus to go to a Young Adults study at SBC North Ridge, and I realized how often this church has been there for me. I had previously struggled with alcohol addiction and was introduced to Jesus by a plumber who prayed with me in my garage.
When I first stumbled upon SBC North Ridge, I was looking for an AA group meeting on the campus and met Jimmy Guvvala in the courtyard. I was broken and a new Christian and was welcomed with open arms and no judgement. Because I received that gracious treatment, it has been something I have strived to extend to others.
You truly feel that anyone could walk onto the campus and be welcomed. Between the events, the young adult retreats, the Sunday services, and the godly men and women who attend, I have been grateful to call SBC North Ridge both my first church and my home church. Now I’m working as a teacher and looking forward to many adventures with Jesus.
I have had the privilege of serving as a volunteer in Children’s Ministry at SBC for almost 30 years, initially helping in our daughters’ classes when they were young, in VBS, and then moving to the Discovery Kids Welcome Desk on Sunday mornings. I’ve had the honor of working with and supporting so many wonderful directors, teachers, staff and volunteers over the years—all of whom have faithfully given their best every week to love and spiritually train-up the children of SBC.
God has graciously given me the spiritual gift of “Service and Helps,” enabling a glad willingness to do whatever is needed to warmly welcome families, register and direct them, and try to ensure a positive experience where they feel at ease and valued. I return every week because of the kids (they are joy filled and our future), the parents (so kind and appreciative), and all whom I’ve had the pleasure of serving with (fun, loving and selfless servants). I’ve surely received 100x more than I’ve given, and by God’s grace, I’ll be part of the team well into the future.
The events of 2020 have impacted us all. My Sunday mornings had a certain “emptiness” to them without “church” and the fellowship and fun of my second “family” in Discovery Kids. What a true joy it’s been since we reopened in September! Only our awesome, sovereign God knows His plans for the future; how wonderful and comforting to know He’s in control and not up in Heaven “wringing His hands.”
As I enter the next phase of life, I’m blessed with more discretionary time. In addition to serving in Discovery Kids on Sundays, and helping wherever needed during the week, I will also continue to look for other serving opportunities at SBC and in the local community. I see this as both my responsibility and privilege—the cost is low; the blessings and rewards incomparable.
SBC’s Special Ministries has been all that and much more for my sister, LaNay Wacker. When Covid hit, all her programs and activities vanished. Even her helper was gone.
Being a very social person, the isolation was crushing. Depression was lurking. Family just doesn’t always cut it. “No friends. Nothing! When is this going to be over?” became her daily lament. LaNay loved going to church and participating in anything her Special Ministries class did. How she missed them!
So, when Tuesday Night Live (TNL) started on Facebook, it became a weekly event to anticipate. But they couldn’t see her or hear her talk. Enter Zoom get-togethers—literally a lifeline!
Now LaNay could see and talk to her friends. SBC Special Ministries has meant a living out of the body of Christ for our family. Parents and caregivers have that innate understanding and respect for each other’s challenges.
It is often difficult for special needs children and adults to verbalize what they need, let alone what their spirit yearns for.
We know that providing a place for prayer and encouraging spiritual growth for them is on God’s heart. We are thankful that Carolyn Meyers and her team have sought out meaningful ways to stay connected. We are eternally grateful for their authenticity and enthusiasm.
In August, my mom passed away unexpectedly—to us, not to Him. We didn’t even think churches were doing memorial services because of Covid but thought we would ask and reach out to Carol Hubner at SBC.
I always thought that when my parents passed, we would have a huge celebration of life in the worship center where I’d dedicated all three of my children. All our family and friends from around the country would be there to celebrate them going home to Jesus! But this was so different with the suddenness, shock and Covid.
We knew my mom’s wishes because tucked in her worn Bible was a piece of scratch paper she had written on just three weeks prior to her death, explaining what my parents’ services were to be like when they passed. Mom and Dad had discussed every detail— from hymns to Scriptures and other little things important to them.
With Covid, masks, social distancing, travel limitations and my mom’s wishes, I knew in my heart that it wasn’t about me or everyone else but that we should have her service in the Chapel with only our immediate family.
Mom’s celebration of life was so intimate! Only our immediate family of 13 to honor such a beautiful, godly woman. Her favorite hymns and Scriptures read by her grandchildren, my brother and I and our spouses sharing her legacy, and Rustin’s message of hope! The church even provided us a video recording we were able to share with some close friends.
It was perfect! Exactly what she would have wanted! Grateful in the midst!
After experiencing personal traumas at a young age, God clearly led me on a path to help others who are brokenhearted. For years, I was filled with pain, isolation and shame, but put those emotions in the vault of my soul and held tightly to the key. I knew God, prayed and attended church, but the fear of unlocking the door separated me from feeling His love and grace. Eventually, He brought trusted people into my life who shared the gentleness and love of Jesus and walked alongside me on the path of healing. The vault was unlocked, and my soul is filled with the confidence of God’s perfect love.
God also gave me a passion to reach others who are suffering. Looking into the hollow eyes of a Muslim refugee who experienced the atrocity of seeing her family murdered, the dark eyes of a child sold by her family to be a sex slave, or the face of a hopeless young girl on our own streets who is desperate to find relief from her emotional pain through drugs, I recognized them as God’s daughters.
Isaiah 61:1 says, “The Spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” This is my mission, and SBC’s Global Counseling Ministry provided the path to answer His call. Our team, led by Counseling Pastor David Walther and Global Outreach Pastor Ethan Collins, has built a strong collaboration to take Lay Counseling to the brokenhearted across God’s kingdom.
Our training with the Trauma Healing Institute has helped us develop a unique model to help others heal heart wounds through Scripture. So far, we have taken this model to Tanzania, Jordan, Mexico and India, and our local Trauma Healing Program is growing daily. We help people heal their heart wounds and walk alongside them on their journey through weekly prayer and personal meetings. They often say, “I can’t believe you are praying for us.” We see the light in their eyes and the sense of joy as they realize they are not alone.
The vision for our Better Together journey was to improve and expand two great SBC campuses, enabling them to become welcoming reflections of the mission and ministry of SBC. We are blessed to be fulfilling this vision thanks to your participation and God’s faithful provision.
This thriving community of people joined SBC as our North Ridge campus in January 2019 and has enjoyed almost two years of exciting transition, campus renovation, and expanded ministry. Since opening the campus, your Better Together gifts have allowed us to complete $4.8 million in improvements to the North Ridge campus including technical upgrades, new worship center seating, a new Discovery Kids lobby and YTH rooms, renovated classrooms, a new Café/bookstore and welcoming lobby space. Thank you for your prayers and involvement in helping this vision come to life!
This campus and community continues to grow and reach its North Phoenix neighborhood. Active in reaching the surrounding community with the hope of Christ, SBC Cactus is now in its 8th year. We recently celebrated an exciting groundbreaking on their new Family Life Building, a facility that will provide much needed space for their growing YTH and Discovery Kids ministries. SBC Español continues to meet each Sunday at SBC Cactus and is becoming known in the Hispanic community for their service and partnership with local schools while gaining the right to talk with people about their need for Jesus.
God continues to bless and grow SBC, and your generosity supports our mission. Our approved spending plan for the 2020/21 fiscal year (July-June) includes a budget of $18.5M plus $1.5M in anticipated direct support missions giving, resulting in $20 million in total expenditures. This is a budget that communicates faith that we plan to continue growing and pursuing our mission with passion this year.
Every gift to SBC supports ministry to our church body, to our local community, or to our partners around the world.
We are overwhelmingly grateful for your financial partnership and honor your gifts with faithful stewardship, ethical business practices, and financial integrity.