Referral for Michael Lancto

16 May 1996

To Whom It May Concern:

My family and I began attending Grace Baptist Temple in June of 1995. Coming from a military tour of duty in Europe, we sought a strong, loving fundamental church and school for our family. After corresponding with over twenty other schools in the area, we met with Pastor Lancto and found his heart filled with a drive for Godly excellence and vision for the church, school, and reaching the community. Although it would have been easy to find a local church packed with social programs and activities, we believed Pastor Lancto's vision and our opportunity to be good stewards for God's purpose in our lives rested in our becoming members at Grace.

Our family has had the opportunity for active service and participation at Grace. Pam has been the first and second grade Sunday School teacher and I have served as a teacher in the adult Sunday School program. Our boys have been active in the Awanas. We are faithful attendees of all services and support special activities whenever possible. I am an active duty Air Force officer, teaching at the Ira C. Eaker College for Professional Development here at Maxwell Air Force Base. Pam and I were both saved in our grade school years, and our marriage ten years ago was founded on ensuring that God would be glorified in our union, for His service. God has blessed us and allowed us our mission fields at work, home, and community.

I only tell you the above things to acquaint you with us as a reference for Pastor Michael Lancto. I believe God sent him here in an extremely challenging environment to do what was right. Here are some key attributes of this man that I have personally observed: vision; sense of order and purpose; selfless and consuming service; heartfelt support of missions, outreach, and evangelism; courageous support of Godly principles to community; convicting, biblically-anchored preaching with real-life applications; and an in-depth computer technology literacy. Let me expound upon these.

Vision. Pastor Lancto has a gift of seeing beyond situation and circumstance to where something should be heading and what should be done to get there. He has this talent combined with a heart and mind for doing what is pleasing unto the Lord rather than men. Men with this kind of vision are hard to find today. This passion for what could be, as in the case of our church and school, attracted us to a similar vision. It is clear that he sought to overcome the inertia of status quo and any lack of desire to grow here to instead create an active state of being, purpose, and plans that would glorify God.

Sense of Order and Purpose. Related to vision, this trait is also manifest in Pastor Lancto. He is not one to idle or amble along. Form his physical stride to his active demeanor, he's one to move forward, not sit and watch the world go by. He doesn't do things in a sloppy or untidy fashion -- let's do it and do it well. He sets the highest personal standards, and appears to believe others should seek to fulfill God's noblest standards in their tasks as well. This is not to say he is void of good humor or overly judgmental -- he enjoys good clean fun and appreciates people as God made them.

Selfless and Consuming Service. If he sees or is made aware of a need, he presents himself in total service to meeting that Godly need. He has served here at a breakneck tempo, tirelessly accomplishing the simplest and greatest tasks, yet not seeking to put himself upon any pedestal for these accomplishments. From creating and printing the order of worship to stacking chairs to leading the service to serving in time of rejoicing or sorrow, he has sought to be a person who makes a difference for the good. It would not surprise me if the consuming nature of this service has often been at some personal expense, for we have prayed that he would yet have time for appropriate self-renewal. He is dedicated to serving his Master and the church body.

Heartfelt Support of Missions, Outreach, and Evangelism. His spirit in this area was another great positive in our becoming members of this local church. He and his fine wife and family warmly welcomed us, a military family, into this area, seeking every way possible to assist us and other newcomers to the community and ensure we found God's place for us to serve. This trait I can personally attest made a major impact in the lives of single military people years ago and through this day, as Pastor Lancto and his wife were instrumental in establishing a Single Servicemen's Christian Life Center, under the authority of a local church, in the Ramstein Air Base area of Kaiserslautern, Germany, when they themselves were on the mission field. I know of it's continued impact, as I served as the Singles Ministry Director for Eifel Baptist Church about forty-five minutes down the autobahn from there, and with his successor, brother Mike Olson, we often coordinated singles activities. I did not know Pastor Lancto at that time, but his family clearly made a positive impact. Here in Prattville, Pastor Lancto has strongly supported missions and missionaries in all conceivable facets, from our weekly reading of correspondence, prayers, monetary support, hosting numerous missions speakers, allowing them free room and board and missions apartments, and much, much more. He carries that missions zeal to the local community as well, enthusiastically seeking to equip the saints for such service and personally setting an example through personal contacts, tracts programs, training church members in practical evangelism, and establishing a cutting-edge electronic ministry world-wide through the Grace Home Page and related Internet "information highway/online" computer methods.

Courageous Support of Godly Principles to Community. It is one thing to boldly preach holy living and community standards out of the relative comfort of one's own pulpit; quite another to take those beliefs in a sincere and positive way to an open civic setting in order to make a real difference for the good of the community. Pastor Lancto has been instrumental in engaging city managers and leaders on several relevant issues, such as countering the proposed liquor licensing of an entity that desired to create a golf range/lounge just down the road from our church and school. Pastor Lancto's initiative and leadership on this issue, garnering support of other churches and interested parties, was decisive in blocking this proposal. The local media made hay of this, all in the interest of stirring debate to sell more newspapers. Pastor Lancto dealt with this in a wise and loving manner, and has continued to "weigh in" and encourage other citizens to make a difference for the good in several other similar cases.

Convicting, Biblically-Anchored Preaching With Real Life Applications. for years I have taken extensive notes as I listen to men of God speak; I've filled two notebooks in the past year. Some speakers in the pulpit tend towards nebulous, fuzzy, or diluted approaches. Pastor Lancto, on the other hand, definitely heads to God's Word for his material, deeply grounding his messages in God's truth, not man's musings. These are messages all of us use and are challenged with, including the one who has delivered God's message to us. Pastor Lancto's heart has remained tender to God's Word and it's impact upon his life, and he is able to preach through God's leading that which challenges and arms us with not just knowledge, but motivation and direction to apply god's Word in our daily lives. He has not shied from being "vulnerable" in the pulpit; we can see him as a man, not afraid to share with us things which may deeply move him or stir his own heart and ours as well.

In-Depth Computer Literacy. Pastor Lancto's knowledge and use of cutting-edge technology is exciting. while many people fear or ignore the powerful potential of computers and new avenues of media creation and communication, Pastor Lancto has waded deeply into this area. As briefly mentioned above, he established a church bulletin board system (BBS) and Internet Home Page where people in the community and world-wide could learn about the church and have access to a wide spectrum of Christian materials which he made available. Internet email, groups, and chat forums open up avenues to link with missionaries and Christian individuals and resources, but also provide powerful new avenues for witness and counseling. He has indeed counseled struggling individuals through this means and has actually brought people through the doors of our church through his electronic witness and invitation. Speaking as the systems engineer that I am by education and practice, I see his zeal, depth, and practical application of this gift to be a much-needed asset for any ministry present and future.

To conclude, I do not naively place this man upon a pedestal above all others, but I do see by personal knowledge an active individual who seeks God first and foremost; a man who loves god and has truly been called and used in service for the glory of God; and who desires with all his heart to daily live and do that which is right in God's eyes. Michael Lancto and his wife are both strong Christians and make a fine team and family, with their dear children, for the Lord.

I stand available to clarify or verify this letter of recommendation.

Yours in Christ,

Brian S. Norman, Major, USAF