By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent
DAGSBORO, Del.—Church planter Andy Ehlers decided to face the wind as he cycled 100 miles during the Oct. 8 Sea Gull Century sponsored by Salisbury University.
This year’s ride attracted over 8,100 riders who bicycled from the Salisbury campus, throughout the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and back. Riders had three routes to choose from: a 100-mile route to Assateague, a 100-kilometer route through Princess Anne, and a new 100-mile route through Snow Hill.
For Ehlers, the bike tour represented a valuable lesson for ministry: endurance.
“Ministry is not a sprint, but a 100-mile ride,” affirms Ehlers, one of the speakers for Connect 2010, the annual meeting of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, to be held Nov. 14-16 at the Sheraton Towson at 903 Dulaney Valley Road in Towson, Md.
Ehlers is the church-planting pastor of High Tide Church, a 2002 plant from Ocean City Church that began as a small group Bible study at Andy and his wife Tanya’s home. That first meeting saw 12 people in attendance: a mix of Ocean City Church, Fenwick Island Church and neighbors of the Ehlers’.
In October of 2002, the church plant moved into its first “home” for Sunday services at Lord Baltimore Elementary School. Eight short months later in June 2003, they saw their first Sunday with 100 people in attendance.
They stayed at Lord Baltimore School until the summer of 2005 when school renovations forced them to move elsewhere. They began holding Sunday services at Roxana Volunteer Fire Department’s Hall, where they still meet today, holding two Sunday services and ministering weekly to 350 to 400 people.
“It’s really neat to see what the Lord is doing,” shares Ehlers, who met and married his wife Tanya while at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.
The couple moved into an inner city apartment community in nearby Raleigh, where they ministered to their neighbors. All the while, they kept their sights and prayers on where God would lead them after they completed their degrees.
To that end, Ehlers hung a map up in his room, praying for where God would have them serve. After mission trips to New Hampshire and Las Vegas, he felt called to an area where there were fewer churches: Bethany Beach, Del.
Like any beach town, the wind is an obvious force to be reckoned with, especially during a storm. Ehlers recognizes that Jesus sometimes sends people into the storm. He knows that it’s what one does during the storm that makes the difference.
Admitting that he is not yet a seasoned 25-year veteran of ministry, Ehlers nonetheless is excited to share about the lessons he’s learned while facing the wind.
Join him and the other dynamic speakers who will encourage and challenge you during this year’s Connect. Visit online at http://am.bcmd.org to learn more.