New Name, Renewed Vitality Mark Fresh Start for Florida Congregation and Pastor
By Carl Stagner
On February 1, 2022, the pastor of 15th Avenue Church of God in Fort Lauderdale heard what nobody ever wants to hear: “You have cancer.” The words pierced Baron Mashack to the core, discouraging him but not deterring him from the plans divinely set into motion more than a dozen years ago. God had brought this leader to this church for such a time as this, and the new direction and new life intended for the Florida congregation could not be hijacked by any spiritual—or physical—hindrance. At the cusp of a new season of ministry at the church which would become known as New Destiny this year, the journey that the Lord brought Pastor Mashack and his congregation through would soon yield precisely what their new name prescribes.
“I received the news that I had prostate cancer approximately one month prior to launch of New Destiny,” Pastor Mashack recounts. “Suffice it to say, it was discouraging…. The good news is that they caught it early and I’m still a fairly young man at fifty-six years old. We took our time considering our options, and decided upon surgery on July 11.”
“The next step,” he continues, “was to plan for an eight-week absence away from the church, which involved making sure that all my responsibilities were delegated. It also meant lining up capable ministers to fill the pulpit. Shout-out to my many pastor friends and to our associate ministers for doing such a splendid job while I was gone! It did slow our momentum a bit after our launch, but we are back on track as we speak in November. Most importantly, my recovery is going well and I am currently cancer-free!”
Glory to God, the Great Physician is still in the healing business; he is just the same today! Such a testimony credits the God who makes all things new, and that newness just so happened to coincide this year with a fresh start for the former 15th Avenue Church of God.
“The church was founded as Reformation Church of God in 1953 by Elder Bennie Eubanks,” Pastor Mashack explains. “It was later changed to 15th Avenue under Pastor Henry Gresham, and continued with that name under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Elbert Williams. So, we are coming up on seventy years in our community.”
“Regarding the name New Destiny,” he continues, “that was actually given to me before I was even called to the church twelve years ago. God put that name deep in my heart while I was still living in Atlanta. We presented it to the church almost ten years ago in a business meeting and it was actually approved. But God never released me to move forward—until 2020 in the midst of the COVID crisis!”
Baron Mashack goes on to describe how the Spirit began to move among the congregation, working especially powerfully during the pandemic, uniting the church around the new name, and the new direction and renewed vitality the name signified.
“More than ever people need the hope that only the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring,” Pastor Mashack exclaims. “He gives us hope of a new start, a new direction, and a new life! The name New Destiny speaks to that hope!”
Discipleship and community engagement are the primary markers of the new day for the Fort Lauderdale congregation. Jesus is clearly the subject for this group of devoted believers, eager to show their community the love of the Lord in tangible, life-altering ways. Just as Jesus touched Pastor Baron Mashack, he can heal the hurt and disseminate hope to the community surrounding New Destiny Church.
As Mashack looks back, he realizes “No one is exempt from these kinds of trials. However, with them God gives us a tremendous opportunity. Our light can shine even brighter in the valley than it can on the mountain top. If we can demonstrate the joy and hope Christ can give in the midst of our challenges, it can be an even greater witness for others to see.”
So, how can the Church of God movement intercede on behalf of New Destiny Church? “Pray for our mission to reach people in our community and throughout our city for Christ!” Pastor Baron Mashack pleads. Amen!
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) photo: Pastor Mashack and church family celebrate the new church name and direction.