The onset of the year is a good time to acknowledge the challenges we face, the changes needed, and to look to Jesus through whom we are more than conquerors. The last two articles in my 2018 series of interviews with pastors and pastor’s wives—have bled over into 2019. So, please, grab your favorite hot cup of comfort, pull up a chair, and let us listen to the words of wisdom offered by these mighty ministers.
How do you feel about the spiritual and cultural climate where you are pastoring?
Pastor Kevin Obermeyer: I think there is a huge spiritual battle going on, and Christians are losing ground rapidly.
Pastor’s Wife, Janet Foley: I feel like the Gospel is often misunderstood and disrespected. I feel a bit intimidated here to share the gospel, more than other places. There is a lot of witchcraft, new age religion and political correctness here. A lot of ex-Christians, a lot of drugs too. Pot has been legal here for a few years so many people are hooked on it as well as methamphetamine. There’s also a lot of spouse-swapping, (married people who exchange for fun), which really freaks me out. Ugh.
Pastor Pablo Catala: I think it has been diluted and stained with perversion and sin unimaginable.
Pastor’s wife, Sophie Foley: It’s a breath of fresh air where we are pioneering. This is such a culturally diverse area, that most people have either not been exposed to Christ and so have no formed opinions and are open. Others have been raised with a respect for church so they are receptive and respectful of both the church and the role of the pastor.
What do you see as the biggest threat to the church today?
Anonymous Pastor, Kathmandu, Nepal: Complacency.
Pastor Tim Schmoyer: Consumerism is the biggest threat. Seeing church involvement as one of the many choices in the buffet of life.
Janet Foley: Political correctness, compromise, complacency. Too much activity without true relationship with Jesus.
Sophie Foley: Emotional indulgence. People are so very fragile now, and when it comes time to speak a bit of caution or direction, the confrontation of it is no longer acceptable and they leave for churches that never confront.
Also, media. We are a generation so connected to our devices, and yet we are steeped with loneliness and depression, which causes us to withdraw and avoid dealing with the social interaction of church services. We have several people who want to come but are easily distracted, or too emotionally distraught, so they stay home and binge movies, and then feel terrible and it becomes a vicious cycle.
Pastor Pablo Catala: The biggest threats to the church today are dead religion and homosexuality. Why do I say this?
Well let’s start with dead religion. Dead religion is wretched and filled with pride, false worship and idolatry.
These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Matthew 15:8 (NLT)
They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! 2 Timothy 3:5 (NLT)
I always use the example of Jesus and His use of words and who He chose as his first twelve disciples and sent to spread the Gospel. It wasn’t those from the school of scholars, it wasn’t Pharisees or high priests, but lost sinners—fishermen and tax collectors, thieves and liars, those that the rest of the world counted unworthy. Jesus chose these men and built a relationship with them.
Religion never changed anyone, but a relationship with Jesus Christ changes people. Growing up Catholic I saw many idols of Jesus, Lazarus, Mary, etc.. One day I saw a room with some statues that were broken, some were spray painted on and so on, and I asked myself, how is it that this god I worshiped wasn’t able to fix itself, protect itself or feed itself? If the statues can’t do it for themselves how will they do it for me? You see, religion helped me believe a lie rather than the truth of Jesus who said the only way to the Father was through Him.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6 (NASB)
Now this seems to be a very sensitive subject for many and they feel uncomfortable talking about it, but I find it a very necessary subject to address and combat, with love and sternness. Homosexuality has run wild within the church community, and has been accepted amongst many churches throughout the world. The Bible teaches that we are called to love the sinner and hate the sin, and Jesus calls homosexuality a sin. Throughout the Bible, scriptures state that God detests the act of homosexuality, as other sins. (Proverbs 6:16-19) But many today look at this as a choice and accept it as a natural way of life, forgetting how God looks at this—as sin.
Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. 1 Corinthians 6:18 (NLT)
So I will ask you a question I asked my church. Sin is sin, correct? No matter how big or small, sin will always be sin. So let’s say a pedophile comes to church and wants to continue to live their lifestyle. Would you be comfortable with that? They are in church with the potential to hurt your son, daughter, or any child vulnerable to the lie. Would you be okay with that? Remember sin is sin; we can’t change the truth. So it is with Christ. He is looking and listening to hearts for repentance. But when the church allows any sexual sin without judgement or consequence, all other sin will follow and the church will no longer be a place of Holiness, but of rebellion. No longer will the church be a place of refuge but a cesspool. You see beloved, we are called to Love the sinner and hate the sin. Be holy for He is holy.
God longs to lavish humanity with His love and blessings. The heart of God is to redeem and to restore lives, to set us free and give us purpose and the peace we so desperately seek. He will reconcile a human heart to Himself in their last breath and grant salvation if they have the presence of mind and time to do so. But the prerequisite is repentance from sin and giving our hearts and lives to God, which is accomplished by the drawing of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with truth proclaimed.
If we say nothing and do nothing when we are called to stand and speak we become part of the problem. Speak the truth in love, because that’s what love does. —Rachael M Colby
Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that.
Truth must speak more loudly than lies. Those who walk with wisdom must lead so others can follow and be saved from stumbling, foolishness and folly. Hope is not meant to be hidden in our hands but offered to the needy, the thirsty, the lost. —Rachael M Colby
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)
Pastor Chad: I believe the biggest problem in the Church is lack of submission to God’s Word. It amazes me how many people profess to follow Jesus yet do not read the Bible. Others do read the Scriptures, but they are not willing to change or be convicted—It is just information for them and they prefer to concentrate on “being blessed,” instead of being teachable. We are in a world of, “whatever I believe is fine and I don’t need to change or grow.” But without a desire to grow in Christ the church will remain in a stagnant state.
Christian means Christ follower. Those who make Jesus their Lord and are governed by His Word, the Bible, will sometimes find themselves on the opposite side of issues than secular culture. God sets boundaries because He loves us and for our good. He is the definer of morality. But please know this— though our beliefs differ from some, that does not mean we disdain or wish ill on those who choose to use their free will to live otherwise.
It distresses me that some don’t understand it’s possible to disagree with people and still love them. Because we love people, we cannot support behavior we believe harmful to them. Because we love God we strive to be faithful to His Word and will for our lives. —Rachael M Colby
Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Psalms 32:1 (NLT)
We are facing an epidemic of opioid addiction, suicide and fatherlessness in our nation.
What do you believe brought us to this place?
Pastor Pablo Catala: It started with one father saying I give up, and now we have this. I mention this all the time: It’s the man’s fault for not fighting for his marriage. And the wife’s fault for not submitting to God.
Janet Foley: The sexual revolution of the 60’s, throwing away classic family values, throwing out the Bible as a foundation for life.
Sophie Foley: We currently have several members who have battled this, and my mother runs a suicide and substance abuse hotline in Oregon where they are facing this issue as well. In talking with her and with our own people, there is an overwhelming increase in depression and mental anguish. We are more disconnected and frenzied than ever, and people are desperate to escape. Couple that with the issue of mismanaged pharmaceuticals, and you have a perfect storm.
Pastor Kevin Obermeyer: The world is in a state of hopelessness. I believe this is the result of years of teaching freedom without responsibility or accountability. Absentee parenting, giving children the ability, power, and resources to make adult decisions they aren’t mature enough to make, treating children like equals with adults. Failing to teach what things are of true value; and conveying that even life has no value, whether the life of others, the unborn, or one’s own.
What do you believe are some steps the Church needs to take to help meet the need and remedy this crisis?
Pastor Pablo Catala: Fast, pray, act, and believe.
Janet Foley: Stick to the gospel and think of new ways to reach people with His simple message. Also showing the power of God through prayer for the sick and addicted.
Sophie Foley: We cannot approach this with hellfire and brimstone. These people are dying by the loads, and somehow it has to grip our hearts with deep sadness. I struggle with deep cynicism and truthfully, not much kindness when it comes to addiction. God has had to really show me, that to carry His cross, is to love the ones most rejected by society. To allow myself to be entrenched with the dirtiness of their lives and show them something better. And of course this means being wise and trained and understanding the mindset of addicts, but we can’t just ignore it or hope someone else will cater to them. We have to go where they are. Over and over and over again.
Pastor Kevin Obermeyer: These issues are within the Church itself, so I believe the Church needs to start by becoming more active in discipleship. This will only happen after the Church gets over its own Biblical illiteracy and ignorance. Hearts changed by God with the hope and power of the Gospel is the only thing that can bring deliverance.
What are your thoughts on the current racial tensions in America? What do you feel has fueled them and what do you think we as a nation and the Church can do to quell this and bridge the racial divide?
Anonymous: I think that it’s a strategy of the Left to bring in Marxism by dividing and conquering. Even in a Christian university our child has attended and now at an Ivy League University which was founded on Christian principles, I see that history has been rewritten, hatred fomented, guilt assigned to innocent parties, hatred for western culture and capitalism. –Departure from the values of MLK.
Janet Foley: I think reading and understanding the hardships people of other ethnicities have suffered, getting to know people of other colors and backgrounds, listening to their stories, checking our hearts constantly for prejudicial mentalities and treatment of others even within our churches. They will know we are Christians by our love.
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35 (NLT)
Pastor Pablo Catala: When sin is involved, racism will always be a problem. Jesus heals every cultural difference. If they accept Jesus they can be set free.
Sophie Foley: This is such a wearying issue. The tensions are high and so political. The whole thing upsets me. People’s lives should never ever be political playing cards, and yet they are. They always are. I believe that what we did during the time of slavery was horrifying and we should not be dismissive of those whom it is still impacting today. I believe their lives were and are still tremendously impacted and deserve the space to voice the injustice of that. I think as a white woman, I immediately feel defensive and criticized when it’s brought up, but have had to learn that it’s not really a fair stance to take. I believe it’s a pendulum that has swung in the other direction to the same extreme and we are experiencing that severity of extremes, but that a pendulum usually comes to rest in the middle and so in the process of time we will see this become less inflammatory. The current trajectory isn’t sustainable at all. I also believe as Christians, we have to be careful not to disagree or agree with a position, solely because it falls on the right or wrong side of our party line. If something is causing so much upheaval, we are obligated to hear both sides and form an honest opinion, not be guided by political talking heads.
Pastor Kevin Obermeyer: Although they certainly exist and always will as long as the heart of man is evil, the situation is exacerbated unnecessarily by a bunch of loudmouths with their own agendas. My wife is Chicana from west Texas, and I, (though Texan as well), am actually a fifth generation Cherokee that left the Oklahoma reservation after my great-great-grandmother married a white man. We’ve seen our share of bias and racism even within our own family. My wife has experienced it even more than I. But in general, I still believe things get blown out of proportion, and specific or regional incidents are presented as the norm, which only makes things worse. And even well-intentioned, good-hearted people are being exploited and taken advantage of for their influence and are getting on the bandwagon in ways that are not helpful.
I think certain people with certain agendas stir people up into a frenzy. By and large, I find that the vast majority of people get along and are not like we see portrayed in the news. Regardless, the Church, (and everyone else, for that matter), needs to proclaim truth, not scare tactics or opinions or assumptions.
But I think we need to focus less on racism specifically because it is a symptom, just like every other sin, of a sinful heart—and the only thing that will change that is a heart changed by Christ.
Sophie Foley: I think we now more than ever need to distance ourselves from strong political affiliation. Give unto to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but remember whose kingdom we belong to—God’s. We have people in our church who are coming from the background of extreme liberalism, homosexuality, abortion, agnosticism, etc. and all of them have expressed a deep gratitude and relief, that we don’t preach a strong political view, and that we don’t berate their opinions and lifestyles.
This is not something we have been able to do because we are just naturally gracious or humble people. But ultimately, people going to Hell must break our hearts, and our motivation has to be one of redemption and salvation through Jesus. That is not achieved by railing against people and humiliating them. We have had to learn grace, mercy, humility, and discernment. And it has truly changed my entire view of politics and social awareness.
We have been gracious and welcoming to people despite such obvious differences, and in the process of time, have established relationships where they can come to us with these questions and are met with grace and—absolutely, correction and Biblical truth.
What do you believe is the key to revival?
Sophie Foley: I believe the key to revival is in the actual Church. We often think revival is seeing lots of people saved, and that is also part of revival. But truly, when I think of the times when we have looked at each other and said, “this is revival,” it’s when our own loyal congregation welcomes new people, takes on the task of follow up, tithes regularly, and wants to be involved in ministry. When the church catches fire, this creates an atmosphere that lends itself to revival. When people are excited and hopeful, they evangelize, and when they submit to their pastor and Jesus’ call, it creates this incredible ability for God to really move.
Janet Foley: The key? Well, one important thing is what Jesus said: to love your neighbor as yourself. People are too busy to really know and love their actual neighbors—to take time to develop relationships and show people their life, witnessing as we do this. I feel like in our churches sometimes it’s all about the big event, (not putting it down), but we’re losing that ability to connect with people soul to soul, and making a good case for why they need to believe in Jesus, turn from sin, and follow him. I think boldness to do that and the heart to actually make time for it in our busy lives is an important key, if not the key.
Pastor Pablo Catala: Faithfulness.
Pastor Kevin Obermeyer: Humbling ourselves before God and sincerely praying for revival. It’s a standard formula that works every time, but you have to pray persistently as you wait patiently for it to happen.
if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19 (NIV)
How do you feel about Jesus’ return, the rapture?
Janet Foley: I feel that His return is close, closer than ever.
Pastor Pablo Catala: Excited and hopeful.
Sophie Foley: I long for it. I believe it’s so near. Selfishly, I can’t wait and wish it was upon us tomorrow, but it also fills me with deep grief and urgency. People I love very much aren’t saved, and the closer it seems, the more overwhelmed I am by the possibility of them not making it.
Pastor Kevin Obermeyer: Can’t wait! Ha, ha. I feel a great urgency, very great. I do believe in the “catching away” of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, and I do believe it is coming very soon, as will the Second Coming of Christ. I see the birth pangs Christ described as getting bigger and closer together for the delivery of the church. Maranatha! Even so, come! Though I also have mixed feelings because of people I know who aren’t ready.
What is your favorite memory or thing about pastoring?
Anonymous Pastor, Kathmandu, Nepal: Here in Nepal last year before new laws hit, we had an outdoor concert in which we set up without any prior outreaching and had over 100 visitors and 13 saved! In America we had a haunted house and the following Sunday we had 10 visitors in service from that.
Anonymous Pastor: This fellowship we are a part of is made up of some of the greatest people. We have friends all over the world. Seeing God move. The adventure of it all.
Pastor Pablo Catala: Still in it. But one great memory we have is pastoring in Chicago. We labored for years and saw very little for three years and in our farewell service we had about 60 people in attendance.
Pastor Kevin Obermeyer: It’s repeated for me every time I see someone’s eyes light up when they understand something new from Scripture, especially children. I like to do a children’s sermon, something dear to me from my own childhood, along with my adult sermon. I am always amazed at how much kids understand—as much as or even more than adults sometimes, which I learned as a Sunday School teacher of 1st graders.
What is the funniest or craziest situation you’ve experienced during your ministry that you are free to share?
Anonymous Pastor, Kathmandu, Nepal: Two months after arriving in Kathmandu, we were told to pay Hindu radicals $1,500 USD to keep them happy for a year so we could stay in our building, otherwise they would vandalize the building. We moved out and through that found a building in which we’ve been able to be off support from U.S. aid for over one year.
Janet Foley: Our church was on the third floor and the windows were open with box fans in each one. One muggy summer night I was playing piano at the end of service, all heads were bowed in prayer as my husband gave the invitation. Suddenly, someone in the alley started flinging raw eggs into the fans in our windows…egg splattered all over my husbands face and my keyboard. But I kept playing and he kept speaking—we were dying laughing. When the congregation raised their heads we prayed for whoever was out there. We never found out who did it, but it was a mess!
Pastor Chad: They Call Me Pastor, Sometimes I Like It
Pastor Kevin Obermeyer: Doing a service as Elvis Presley on a Navajo reservation mission trip.
Speaking of crazy, Pastor Obermeyer, can you please explain your profile photo on your website of you in the grocery cart?
The shopping cart photo is actually an older photo from even before my wife and I were dating and we were just friends. We bumped into each other at the store, and I climbed into her cart. She laughed, took the photo, and we started dating soon after, lol.
(Well, now you know, folks! Lol. Apparently it is possible to pick up a man or woman of God in the baking aisle of the grocery store—the aisle with the ingredients for whipping up sweet stuff!)
Is there anything else you would like to share that hasn’t been covered?
Pastor Kevin Obermeyer: I am always willing to learn, and I think that is good for any pastor/evangelist to continue to do.
Janet Foley: From the time I was a little girl my character was flawed. I knew deep down I had a bent towards evil, deception, lying, an affinity with darkness. When I came to Jesus that day, my heart was just laid bare, my soul exposed. The conviction was unbelievable. The realization that God had seen every secret thing. And He loved me still. The love of God was more than I could ever have imagined. That touch from His hand, that cleansing, I can’t explain how new I felt in a moment. Born again. A daughter of God. Forgiven. In my right mind! Delivered from devils probably.
Born again! Heaven touched down and I was never the same! I see the old Janet try to revive at times. How easy it would be to be less than truthful or to be conniving. Dishonest. Willful. Rebellious, even. And God’s Spirit is faithful to help—to make the way to obey and do right. Not perfect by any means. But forgiven. Changed. Bought with the greatest price.
This has definitely been 39 years of stretching for my heart, mind, and soul, but like I said, I would not trade this experience for anything. I have the Pearl of Great Price! He’s the reason I’m here. Still alive. Still serving Him after 48 years. Jesus! ❤️
**It would bless these pastors and pastor’s wives, myself, and others, if you would please share these articles.**
We welcome your comments below.
Links to prior posts in my 2018 Series of Interviews with Pastors & Pastor’s Wives
Part 8: The Preacher and the Writer
Part 7: A Preacher’s Kid Speaks
Part 3: Life as a Pastor’s Wife
Part 1: If My People
You can read part 1 of my 2018 series of interviews with pastors & pastor’s wives, If My People, HERE
**It would bless these pastors and pastor’s wives, myself, and others, if you would please share these articles.
We welcome your comments below.
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You can also follow Pastor Chad’s blog here: https://wildmanwonders.weebly.com/
Link to Pastor Chad and Mindy’s church here: New Hope Church, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Pastor Obermeyer is doing his part to help combat Biblical illiteracy and ignorance. You can check out his brand new Sonshine Institute, an online learning center bringing you great content on a variety of subjects.
Proceeds from the Sonshine Institute help continue to serve needs in Bible teaching, counseling, sexual abuse, and other outreaches.
You can also check our Pastor Obermeyer’s blog here: ministry.obiehouse.com
Find simple truths in the complex parts of Scripture on Rachel Schmoyer’s blog, Read the Hard Parts
You can also read more of her writings on parenting, books, and party ideas over at rachelschmoyerwrites.com.
Link to Pastor Tim and Rachel Schmoyer’s church here: Whitehall Bible Fellowship
Pray for Your Pastor Text Campaign
Text the word PASTOR to 74574 to sign up to receive either daily or weekly prayer reminders with suggestions for praying for your pastor and a matching scripture reference via text message.
Check out Energize Ministries
A ministry dedicated to motivating and educating churches to care for and encourage their pastors and families. Energize ministries offers encouraging articles and podcasts for ministers and their families, resources to equip and opportunities for getaways so they can be refreshed.
***It would bless these pastors and pastor’s wives, myself, and others, if you would please share these articles.
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