Updated: Sep 24, 2021
(Last day of Southwest Bible Methodist Camp on 08/01/2021)
The first time I heard Steve speak was at a Missions Convention at Hobe Sound Bible Church back in the Fall of 2018. It was my junior year at Hobe Sound Bible College and at the time my post-undergraduate plans were to church plant with Hobe Sound Bible Church. I remember going up to Steve after one of his messages and thanking him for sharing it because it ministered to me so much. Throughout our chat, Steve mentioned taking me to breakfast the next day. Me? Ronald Pauleus? I am a nobody! Why is he wanting to take me to breakfast?
We went to Old Dixie Cafe North in Hobe Sound and he listened and shared with me as if he knew me for a long time, despite the fact we just met the day before. You see, Steve was a great listener and his warm eyes looked at everyone with a heart of kindness, empathy, grace, and love behind it. We exchanged numbers and Steve said I could call him anytime if I ever needed anything.
The next time I saw Steve was at Sea Breeze Camp in 2019 February, and guess what? He took me out to breakfast again! He encouraged me to keep loving God and to follow Him. I remember chatting with him and he mentioned that he was praying for me and asking God to help me with what I shared with him the last time we met in 2018! I was so shocked that he remembered what I shared with him because I forgot that I shared the things he was praying about for me with him!
The next time I saw Steve was at his daughter's, Maria, wedding. My good friend Bryan Robledo was marrying her and I was a groomsman. I could tell he was happy for Maria and Bryan, he told me that they are perfect for each other and God worked this relationship out and I can trust God to work something out for me If He wants me to be married also. You see, Steve was praying for a wife for me!
Well, the next time I saw Steve was at Sea Breeze Camp in 2020 February. I dated this good girl for about five days before her parents called it off because they didn't want me dating their daughter because of cultural differences. (I cried like a baby because I can't change the color of my skin or the culture I grew up in). Steve listened as I shared with him at Old Dixie Cafe North and he empathized with my pain. He assured me that it was wrong and that I didn't deserve the deep pain I felt. Steve told me he had been praying for me weekly and would continue to do so and now he knew how to pray more specifically for me after I shared about the breakup that happened that January.
The last time I saw Steve was on Sunday, August 01, 2021. He was preaching at Southwest Bible Methodist Camp. Steve was in the front because he was preaching that last day of camp and I sat by his beautiful, kind, and godly wife Beth. Service ended and I ate lunch with Steve and Beth, the picture above is my first and last picture with Steve and his wife on that last day of camp. At lunch, Steve and Beth assured me that they were praying for me and they were happy that I was going to serve as an under-shepherd with their nephew, Darrell Stetler II, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
I appreciated Steve's humility and transparency. He "mourned with those who mourned" and "rejoiced with those who rejoiced" (Romans 12:15).
If Steve Stetler ever told you that he was praying for you, rest assured that he was and would continue to for years to come!
Steve was a great speaker and I could feel and hear his love for people. He was a man that pointed people to His Savior, Jesus the Christ. He could also do a very impressive duck voice!!!
Steve was so generous. I remember going to the wedding rehearsal for Bryan and Maria and helping set up tables and decorations for the meal after the rehearsal was done. When I and the other groomsmen were leaving, Steve gave us $50 bucks for us to get ice cream! (Guys, it was my first time in Ohio and I never had United Dairy Farmers ice cream before or Graeters. AND GRAETERS IS THE BEST I HAVE EVER HAD!).
Steve loves God, and he gave his life to serve Jesus. Steve thought he was a mistake, and damaged "goods" because of dyslexia and stutter but Steve shares in his testimony that he "gave his piece of the puzzle to God." Here is a link to a YouTube video where a part of his story and testimony is shared: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9V2cWsT3yc&t=156s
Pastor Steve was born July 19, 1960, and passed away September 13, 2021. Throughout his time in time, he lived a life worth emulating and made an impact on thousands for good. I spent less than a week‘s worth of time with him if you add up all our times together but he has influenced me for the rest of my life. Steve and Beth Stetler, thank you for your love and care extended to a nobody like me.
Here are the notes I took from Pastor Stephen Wayne Stetler's last sermon:
"We're looking at Hebrews 11:23-12:2, the definition of faith is given to us in Hebrews 11:1.
God has a plan that works.- Steve Stetler
If you put God in a box, you're bigger than He is.- Steve Stetler
The Foundation of Faith: It's often laid down for us by someone else.
"'By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment'" (Hebrews 11:23, emphasis added).
The Function of Faith: Faith says no to the Devil, to Sin, and the evil in this World.
"'By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter...'" (Hebrews 11:24, emphasis added).
The Choice of Faith:
"'Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season...'" (Hebrews 11:25, emphasis added).
Faith’s Value System:
"'Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward....'" (Hebrews 11:26, emphasis added).
"'By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible' (Hebrews 11:27, emphasis added).
The Fulfillment of Faith:
"'And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect'" (Hebrews 11:32-40, emphasis added).
The Focus of Faith:
"'Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us , and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God'"( Hebrews 12:1-2, emphasis added).
Steve Stetler is no longer seeing things dimly, He sees clearly now. His faith is now sight. He not only sees His Savior Jesus the Christ, He can touch Him and feel the imprint of the wounds that made a way for him to be there. He has fought the good fight, he has kept the faith, and finished his race.
I am reminded of these last words from C. S. Lewis' The Last Battle,
"And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
I am waiting for the beginning of that "real story." Revelation 21:1-8, my favorite chapter in this book, gives us some of the "introduction" to the "Great Story."