– by Pastor Ken Clowdus –
Upon graduating from high school, I came to California and lived with my sister and her husband. Vicki, Sissy’s mom, (who has visited this church) was Dorothy’s 2 year old daughter at the time. I was well into the world with no greater ambition than to enjoy the lust of the flesh to the fullest.
Two months later I met my wife, Sandy, at the Hollywood Palladium. I was instantly in love, and still am. She was beautiful, striking, poised, friendly and gracious. I didn’t know what most of those words meant at the time, but I knew I liked her and told her so within 5 minutes after our meeting. (Mr. Cool, himself!)
We were married about eleven months later and settled in Los Angeles where we lived for about a year before moving to Baltimore, Md. I had just turned 21 and was accepted into the Maryland State Police Academy as a state trooper where I served for 5 years. It was during this time that my life really fell apart. Working 14 hours a day and loving it, I gradually lost interest in my wife and 2 small boys, Gary and Mark, and the thought of the Lord or church was totally off the radar screen.
It was during a crisis that had almost ended our marriage that Sandy and I decided to go to a Methodist church in Hampstead, Maryland for one last chance to save our family. I had no idea that we were the ones who were about to be saved and the marriage would naturally follow suit.
Pastor Don McIntosh led us to the Lord together in his study. It seemed like we were both ready and we became new creations in Christ Jesus. We were told to go tell the choir, which was rehearsing that evening, what we had done. As we believed in our hearts and confessed with our mouths we were saved.
In the course of time we returned to California. I was working as an insurance adjustor in 1966 when I enrolled in Southwestern University Law School as one of the few special students they received. This was again the grace and favor of God. They permitted me to go to law school by passing a college equivalency examination; otherwise I would have needed at least 2 years of college just to enroll. I graduated in 1970 with a Juris Doctor and, by the grace of God, passed the bar the first time.
I opened an office in Covina on Rue Royale, a little street off Barranca. Sandy was my secretary, neither of us had any experience, but again, by the grace of God, we were successful. I asked the Lord for so much income and he brought it in, almost to the penny. I had no idea how difficult a solo practice was for a new lawyer and an inexperienced secretary, so I went to work for Kemper Insurance, my old employer, in their legal department. I spent more than 10 years practicing law. During part of that time I had the privilege of working for Morris and Polich, one of the top defense firms in Los Angeles and Bergland and Johnson, a top plaintiff’s firm, but after being filled with the Holy Spirit in a home prayer meeting, my interest was no longer in law, but grace.
During this time I received my credentials with the Assembly of God denomination and became the associate pastor at Azusa Assembly of God and later Faith Chapel in West Covina. It was after our stay at Faith Chapel that the Lord led us to start a home bible study which grew and as a result, Community Christian Center was founded in May of 1977. In September of 1977, we moved to this location and began to remodel facilities that were so run down that we bought the entire property, with the three old buildings, no two matching, for $85,000.00. When we moved here, the Assemblies of God told me we were too near First Assembly of God in Covina and I had to either resign from the denomination or move the church. We were already operating as a nondenominational church and that was an easy decision. About 5 years into the life of our church, I left the legal profession and became full time in pastoral ministry.
In 1966, we had the opportunity to add Laura to our family by adoption, making our family of 5 complete. She was 2 weeks old when I first saw her and, again, it was love at first sight. She has always been a ray of sunshine in my life. Gary, Mark, David & Laura, Randy, Nicholas, Nathan and Lindsay make up our immediate family. I couldn’t ask for better.
In so many ways this church and its people are like a part of me. I have found my destiny by ministering here and seeing what God has done through the years. I suppose well over a thousand people have passed through the church. Some have moved away, some have stayed in the area and are now attending other churches. Some have dropped out of church life altogether. Several have gone into ministry and, praise be to God, many are still here as a part of this congregation.
When Sandy and I are shopping or thinking of something new and it catches our eyes, she knows my first thought is, “How could we use that at the church?” Her first thought is, “How would that work at home?”
For me, Sandy is a perfect pastor’s wife. She ministers to me and I minister to the congregation. In the early days, she taught Sunday School, played the piano, worked in the nursery, and worked in the kitchen long, long hours. Now she is perfectly content to leave public ministry to others. She is one of the most consistent Christians I have ever known. Most of what she does is out of the public eye, but I can say without reservation, what you see is what she is.
My testimony is that I don’t deserve the wonderful blessings and life that the Lord has given me. I was on my way to hell without hope when He reached down his hand for me, saved me, redeemed my life, saved my marriage and has given me the wonderful assurance that this is just the beginning.
This is the greatest time in my life. I feel that I have a real love affair with Jesus, my wife, children, grandchildren and, in much the same way, the people in this church.