A few weeks ago Michael Gatlin and I had the honor of joining the Northwest Region pastor and leader’s retreat. In addition to hanging with a bunch of courageous Vineyard leaders, we met two church planters that we fell in love with: George and Beverly Sisemore. The Sisemore’s planted Florence Vineyard Christian Fellowship in 2012 and are two of the kindest people I have had the pleasure of talking too.
And they planted a church when he was 70 and she was 66!
I asked the Sisemore’s a few questions and they took the time to provide some really great answers. And what a treasure they are for us in the Vineyard!
LG: George and Beverly, thanks for taking the time to share with us! Could you briefly share how you came to plant Florence Vineyard Christian Fellowship?
For so many years Beverly and I have read in His word the part about our commission and we have observed very few manifestations of signs and wonders. Signs and wonders were not our motivation. We knew nothing about our ability to release the Living Word inside of us. His Spirit, His Gifts and HIS FAITH, i.e., the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the Faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave His life for me…Notice, Faith of the Son, not faith in the Son…the newer translations use “in the faith” and they say this was done for readability, but that transfers all the performance to me and not Him. I can do nothing without Him… (Gal 2:20 KJV or Darby Bible or Interlinear Text or INV OR Young’s Literal Translation or The Mirror Bible).
We both began to realize that it was all about His Faith that lives in us and not our faith which can doubt, wavier and fail. In other words, we can do nothing without Him, but all things are possible when we release the Living Word (A REAL LIVE PERSON WHO’S NAME IS MR. HOLY SPIRIT) living in us. We are simply earthen vessels that contain a Precious Treasure and our Job is to simply carry this treasure into our daily lives and release Him in accordance with His Good Pleasure. Our struggle was over and we SIMPLY entered into His Divine Complacency, His Rest (PERMANTLY). We abandoned religion totally and moved into a relationship born out of intimacy.
We were first exposed to His Grandeur and Power while visiting Bethel Church in Redding, CA. We both received physical healing and witnessed hundreds of miracles, signs and wonders over the next three or four years (gold dust, extreme joy, dancing, freedom in worship, great honor toward Holy Spirit and honor among and between one another) and the list goes on. We carried these testimonies back to our church and shared them with our pastor. One church threw us out and another isolated us. Kind of..
Thirty months ago, we attended Providence Church (Les and Joy Yoder) and as we entered the church, I stood next to their sound booth for a moment and was overcome with joy and a rush of tears that could not be contained. I knew this was something just as special as Bethel, only smaller. Same Grandeur, same awesome sense of well-being, same Presence, same honor toward God and His children, Love unspeakable, unsinkable…
We attended Providence with three other couples and that same day Les and Joy prepared a meal in their home and we were blessed with three hours of incredible fellowship. At the same time, Les answered all our questions about Vineyard and shortly after that we were invited to attend a regular scheduled meeting of other Vineyard pastors. After the meeting, we knew that these men and women had been in the presence of Jesus and we so much wanted what they had. We had both been filled with Holy Spirit, but this intense, permeating love was missing. Looking back, we can truly say, we also have been, and are in His presence, releasing the same Love we so desperately needed and wanted, and you know the rest of the story.
LG: And curious minds would like to know how old you are!
I will be seventy three in May and Beverly will be sixty nine in October.
LG: What has been most surprising about church planting in your seventies?
How little we actually knew.
LG: What has been your greatest challenge?
To learn a great deal more of what we don’t know.
LG: Tell us about the community you have planted in? What’s unique about Florence?
Florence is a wonderful small city, big town, with maybe ten to fifteen thousand people in the surrounding areas. There are many churches and most are still very traditional with most denominations represented. Florence is very close to the Pacific Ocean and Florence Vineyard is less than ½ mile from shore. There are a large number of retired business and professional people and also a fairly large number of people who struggle to survive. There are very few middle class, well-paying jobs. Our larger employers include the Hospital, and two major Food stores, Kroeger and Safeway.
LG: What are some of the things that God has done in the last three years? How has God’s presence and power been displayed?
Since our beginning we have met every Thursday evening for worship and intercessory prayer. This last Thursday we had our largest attendance with many coming from the other churches in town. During the last thirty months we have seen Lymes Disease cured, a broken neck healed at a very accelerated pace, a marriage reconciled, several financial miracles, people coming back from being comatose, people asking for employment and are now gainfully employed. My grand-daughter’s womb was opened after many failed attempts and two weeks ago she received a double portion from Papa, with two healthy identical boys named Joshua and Caleb. We have had only two salvations, but after hearing Michael Gatlin, we are believing for fifty this year.
LG: What are your plans for the future? How do you plan to transition?
I’m not sure if we have any plans right now. This entire season has been so fulfilling and we are seeing our destiny unfold right before our eyes. Make no mistake, there have been very trying times with tears and doubt. We learned, while at Cannon Beach, all of our team mates face the same obstacles. We want to finish stronger than we started. We also know that each day, week, month and year are in His hands and when He is ready, we will step down. We believe God has just the right persons waiting to take the baton.
LG: How can we be praying for you two and for the church?
Please pray that would be able to receive more of His wisdom and strength. Please pray for God to add to our numbers as it seems good to Him.
LG: Thanks so much for your time!
So there you have it. You can plant a church in Small Town USA even if you are in your 70’s! Why not? George and Beverly are probably looking to raise up some young leaders to take over for them some day, so if any of you young whipper-snappers, like someone in their early 60’s, are interested, get ahold of them!