Independent – Fundamental – Soulwinning. These three words are found on the back of every tract First Baptist Church of Bernedistributes. Locatd on the edge of town, Faith Baptist is first and foremost a church but it also has a K-12 private school and a missions project that busses people too and from services. Pastor Travis Combest is its pastor and I talked with him in his office after work on April 18th. He asked that I turn my tape recorder off but he did allow me to take written notes. What follows is an accurate-as-possible conversation from these notes and what I remember.

I notice you have a Southern accent. What made you come to Berne?

God sent me here, no doubt. I was in Germany at a military base and there was no church. There were 20,000 Americans on the base and all they had was a chapel, which is a far cry from an actual church. So I started one and maintained it for ten years. While I was there, a fellow pastor’s dad from Roanoke, IN told me that the original pastor here at Faith Baptist was leaving and invited me to be a candidate. So I checked it out and the congregation voted on it and I became pastor. It takes both God’s calling and a desire from the congregation. In the bible David was anointed by Samuel but it took the people of Israel’s acceptance of this for him to become king. I believe that I was sent here by God. It worked out so well, I could even distribute the same tracts I was using in the German language with the Amish people in this area.

Your mentioning the Amish brings me to my next topic. I’ve noticed that people at Faith Baptist dress pretty conservatively and are pretty tightly knit. You also have your own school. Although the Amish would tend to possess these elements to a greater degree, some people might accidentally confuse you with them. What makes you different?

There is a clear difference between the Amish and First Baptist. They believe in “works salvation” and we do not. When you ask the Amish if they are saved they will say, “We hope we are.” At First Baptist, Jesus is our hope. Jesus saved us. Their faith is the tradition of their fathers and the belief in a creed. They believe that man made rules and regulations will get them salvation. This is not what we believe. We can never attain enough holiness. The Bible says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” They don’t know why they are saved and they have no biblical foundation. Our views on salvation are totally different from the Amish. It’s merit and no merit. Theirs is fearful and ours is a love for the Lord.

You use the name “Baptist” but your tract says that you’re independent. Are you affiliated with any denomination?

We are controlled by no outside entity. We are completely autonomous from any larger organization and no one has any control over our church.

So, why the name “Baptist”?

Through the centuries that is what we have been called. The groups of people that have carried the faith through the ages have been called “Baptists.” There were the Waldensians, the Anabaptists, and others. We reject infant baptism. We do what the Bible says and it doesn’t matter what society says or the mainstream churches teach. We go all the way back to the apostles. Our purpose is to bring souls to Christ.

Since you brought up the Anabaptists, I have another question along those lines. What do you feel about the early Anabaptists emphasis on peace and the practice of non-violence?

Well, this was not a doctrinal cornerstone of the Anabaptists. Some of the smaller groups held this belief but not the mainstream Anabaptists. God created war for the purpose of judgment. I personally hate war but it has to happen. As a man, I am to be the protector of my household. If someone breaks in, I have to defend my family. It is in the Bible that their blood will be on their own hands. It’s in the Old Testament and it’s in Revelation. Michael the Archangel fighting with Satan. War is in heaven. God isn’t just going to let Satan invade heaven. In the battle of Armageddon, blood will flow up to the horse’s bridle over 70 miles. We believe in defending our country, our families, and our community. We are against murder. Man is ordained by God to wield the sword. Now, we shouldn’t take up arms to enlarge our country. But America has had a history of fighting to help the weak. I think there are a lot of good people who are conscious objectors and are saved by Jesus but this is peripheral. We don’t take issues with those people but we will take issue with you if you question the Bible, salvation, and the reality of hell.

So, transitioning away from that, how do you feel about First Mennonite and First Missionary? Since both of these churches kind of dominate the religious landscape in this town, how does Faith Baptist find its niche?

A church that is not acting as God says is a church that is failing. The important elements of being a Christian are to win lost souls, keep them out of hell, baptize, and teach others to do likewise. When a church becomes a social institution, it is failing. I don’t care who it is: Methodist, Baptist, Missionary, or Mennonite. When a church gets off track from “the great commission,” it is no longer functioning as a New Testament church. Pastor Doug Rogers (the first pastor of Faith Baptist) was sent here by God to start this church. I’m not in competition against other churches. I’m in competition with liberalism and Satan.

Alright, my final question is why do you have a Thursday night service instead of Wednesday night like most other churches?

It was here when I got here. And the people liked it. Also, it allows for other preachers to preach here, especially if they have Wednesday night commitments.

Ok, thanks a lot for your time.



Sorry folks, I took this week off. But next week's interview will be great. In the meantime, you can check out these extra pictures on the photo blog. Well, have a great day and enjoy this lovely test pattern. ~ J.E.

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