Al and Susie Hester
8950 Lakeview Road, Lakeside
Denomination: Evangelical Free Church of America
Membership: 50 (attendance: 75)
Pastor: Al Hester
Formation: Westmont College, Santa Barbara; California State University, Northridge; Talbot Theological Seminary (Biola University), La Mirada
Years Ordained: 23
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor Al Hester: Knowing God. It all flows from knowing God — not just about him, but knowing him, falling in love with him, serving him and honoring him. That is one subject that could be unfolded into a lifetime of sermons.
SDR: What is your main concern as a member of the clergy?
PH: There’s a flavor that’s becoming all too persuasive in American Christianity that says the ultimate good is that God fulfills my desires for comfort, fulfillment, health, wealth, and prosperity — all that stuff. In other words, we’re getting it reversed. God comes first. And we are to find our ultimate joy in holiness and becoming his children, serving him and loving him and knowing him. I see that reversed. God is viewed as the ultimate grandparent in the sky who is there to make us happy. Does God want us happy? Yes, he loves us. But he wants us happy via the pathway of holiness.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
PH: The three words of our mission are Reach, Teach, and Send. Reach people for Christ — teach them to grow in Christ — and send them to serve Christ. That is true and right and guides our elders as we seek to guide the congregation in developing what we want to do…. I like to ride; I have a Harley. I came off a ride with a neighbor who came to Christ through our riders’ group. So, I like to leverage things of this world for our joy in the Lord and also for the kingdom’s sake. We’re trying to use that as one of our primary outreach strategies at this church. Pray and invite people to get to know the Lord, be real and get to know them, as a way to build bridges. I want people to see a church that means we together are Jesus — the hands and feet of Jesus to the world.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PH: There is heaven and there is hell. There is no in-between. Both are real. Hell is an unfortunate reality; Jesus spoke about hell and money more often than any other subject. Basically Jesus was willing to use fear as a motivation: “You don’t want to go there!” He never said those exact words, but it clearly comes out of what he says: “Where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). He was painting a portrait to motivate people to not want to go there…. On the other hand, the picture of heaven painted in general terms in scripture is warm and, frankly, earthly. There are going to be some awesome things in heaven — and I like to tease that, yes, there will be Harleys in heaven. We don’t know, but heaven is going to be even better than anything we can imagine. God is not willing that any should perish but all that come to repentance to eternal life. God doesn’t want to send anyone to hell. Hell is portrayed as a reality in scripture by Jesus Christ and he does not lie — he does not play games with that.