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BLACKFOOT â€” Thanks to a church planter from Wyoming, Pastor Joshua Sykes is ministering in Eastern Idaho.
Sykes has been pastor of the small congregation at Fellowship Baptist Church in Blackfoot since July of 2010.
"When I was in high school, my home church had a mission conference each year and I met a church planter from Wyoming," Sykes recalled recently.
After majoring in pastoral studies at Crown College in Powell, Tenn., and meeting his wife Christine there, the couple spent three years raising support in North Carolina, New Hampshire and Louisiana. They eventually joined a church planter in Saratoga Springs, Utah, and spent nearly a year there.
"I kept looking and praying and a door opened up here," Sykes said. "I never thought of coming to Idaho before."
His church is not affiliated with a specific Baptist denomination but Sykes shares God's message using the King James Version of the Bible.
"My goal is to obey God's word," he said, citing Joshua 1:8. "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success."
Sykes said, "I believe that's where God defines success as being obedient to His word."
He said the Lord's great commission is to go into the world and preach his word.
"For our church members, my goal is to help them have a personal relationship and walk with God," he said.
Sykes, Christine and their three children â€” Jesse, 6; Chloe, 5: and Elijah, 3 â€” aren't sure how long they'll be in Blackfoot.
"I don't have a time limit on it," Sykes said. "As long as He wants me here. Our goal is to become a self-governing and self-supporting church."
When he isn't working in behalf of his church or his family, Sykes enjoys spending time outdoors with his two Labrador retrievers.
"I've been wanting to go pheasant hunting with them," he said.
An avid Duke Blue Devils basketball fan, he enjoyed following the NCAA tournament until his team was upset.
"I was born into it," he said of his support of Duke. His mother works there as a secretary. His father is a maintenance man at an apartment complex.
Sykes' role model is his grandfather who ministered for 31 years.
He uses 2 Timothy 2:19 as his guiding scripture.
It reads: "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
"That's an encouraging scripture," Sykes said.
"I would like people to know that I love people," he concluded. "I can be a friend to anyone."