Stories of Faith
STORIES OF FAITH: A LIFE OF CONNECTING WITH OTHERS FOR THE LORD
Jessica Baer leaned on the power of prayer to get through difficult time
Special to FBC Jenks
August 24th, 2023
Matt and Jessica Baer have three children … all boys; Jackson, 15; Carter, 13 and Camden, 10.
The Baer’s made it clear from day one they wanted to bring their boys up in the church. Jessica has attended First Baptist Church in Jenks for the majority of her life since she was a young girl. She wanted her sons to have the same connection to their church as she did when she was growing up.
“A strong connection to church has been one of the most important things we wanted to teach our children,” Jessica said. “It has been really important for them to understand that the church is their second family. That is a huge passion of mine. I believe your church should operate as an extended family. This place should feel like your second home.”
Matt and Jessica knew in order for that to happen, they not only had to attend church regularly, but get involved and serve in numerous ways and be examples to their boys on the importance of serving in your church.
“When they are younger, you have to serve with them and model how to be a good servant of the Lord,” Jessica said. “Now, they are older and they can serve on their own and they love it.”
Jackson, Carter and Camden are all perfectly normal, healthy and happy boys. However, 18 years ago, for Jessica, life was anything but normal.
The year was 2005 and Matt and Jessica had just moved to a new neighborhood in Jenks. They were a young couple and had several other friends who were also young married couples, so they all moved into the same neighborhood to be closer to each other.
Several years went by and all the couples started to get pregnant and have babies. All except the Baer’s. Matt and Jessica wanted to start growing their family, but there were some medical road blocks getting in their way.
Jessica was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which started them on a three-year journey, which consisted of many different treatments and a lot of pain and struggle.
It was challenging for Jessica, having to balance being happy for her friends, who were having children and dealing with the disappointment of it not happening for her and Matt.
“Everybody knew what was going on,” Jessica said. “I was very honest about it. We wanted everyone who would pray for us to pray for us. Our class rallied around us. Matt and I prayed so much and our family and friends prayed so much for us. I was an open book about it because I knew the power of prayer. The first year of treatments, you think okay, this isn’t that bad, but the second year was tough and then the last year was extremely hard.”
It was around that time, God moved another young couple to the Jenks area who started to attend FBC Jenks. The couple did not have children and the Baer’s immediately bonded with them. Being able to spend time with that couple was helpful for Matt and Jessica because there was no talk of children. That time allowed them to heal and take their minds off of the challenges they were facing.
Around two years into the process, the Baer’s decided to try an IVF treatment. It worked and Jessica became pregnant with Jackson.
Getting pregnant with Carter wasn’t as difficult as it was with Jackson, but it wasn’t easy either. In fact, Jessica was preparing to go in for another round of treatments when she took a pregnancy test before she left and it came back positive. Camden took the shortest amount of time to conceive, but it was still longer than normal.
“Our church was still small enough at the time, we still had Sunday night church and (Pastor) Rick (Frie) actually announced from the pulpit that I was pregnant. Our small group through us a party. Our struggle with fertility was a tough time of faith, but also a giant growth in faith. Our faith in God increased and our reliance on each other as a couple increased.”
“It was the first time in my life honestly where it was a real personal struggle,” Jessica said. “I kept telling myself, I know I have tried to live my life for the Lord, but it wasn’t happening the way I envisioned. It was the first time I wrestled with God for an extended period of time. There were many times I would lay down in my closet and get on my knees and beg for Him to change my situation and allow me to get pregnant. What was so neat when I had Jackson, everyone in the church was so excited for me and they felt like they were a part of bringing him into this world. They had prayed so much for him. Prayer changes things. God may not change your situation, but He will change your heart. God hears our prayers, and He responds.”
Jessica was seven-years-old when she walked the aisle at FBC Jenks to declare Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, but says she doesn’t believe she was officially saved until she was 13.
“At age 7, I knew that I needed to be saved,” Jessica said. “I knew who Jesus was and knew what He had done for me, so I knew that was the obedient path. I truly didn’t allow God to be in full control of my life until I was 13. I was at church camp and realized my life was not God’s and I was not fully submitted to Him and it was time to make that commitment.”
The relationships Jessica developed in the church following her devotion to the Lord were imperative to her spiritual growth.
“Those formative years were so vital,” Jessica said. “We were like family. That group was special. If you took a percentage of us, I would say 90% of us are still actively involved in the church today and probably 50% are involved directly in ministry. Some are still here, but a lot are scattered across the country.”
Jessica attended college at Oklahoma State University, where she would meet her husband Matt. After several years of dating, they knew they wanted to get married, so they had planned on going wherever Matt was able to get a job. Matt was from Oklahoma City and Jessica from Tulsa, so they figured they would end up at one of those two cities.
Jessica received a degree in finance, Matt earned a degree in landscape architecture. They both received job offers in Tulsa, so they moved back to Tulsa following their time in Stillwater and got married.
Rather than go back to FBC Jenks, they decided they wanted to try a fresh start at another church as a new and young married couple. After nearly a year-and-a-half of attending another church, they made the decision it was time to start looking due to some doctrinal differences in the church where they were attending.
On top of Jessica and her parents attending FBC Jenks, her grandparents attended as well and had been poking at their granddaughter to come back and try it out. Her grandfather and long-time church member Arlen Kaiser decided they were going to do in-home visits with Jessica and Matt and after three consecutive Sunday nights, the couple agreed to visit one Sunday. Arlen kept saying, “you know where your home is.”
“From the moment we came back to one service, we knew that was the place for us,” Jessica said. “We knew it was home. That was January of 2005. The church was much smaller back then, and we attended class with many couples who were several years older than us. It was a great gift to form those mentor relationships with couples who were a stage ahead of us in life.”
Since that time, the church has not only moved locations, but has dramatically increased in size. However, it still has a feel of a small, community church.
“It’s crazy, sometimes I see Rick (Frie) and I just say, do you just sometimes look around and wonder how this happened,” Jessica said. “It has grown so much. I think you can tie it back to mentality of hold the rope philosophy. If you are going through something, we are all going through it. If God calls you to do something, He calls us all. We are connected through Christ and we are real with each other. I think that realness is what makes the difference, we are in the business of becoming more like Christ.”
Throughout her difficult time, Jessica decided to start a fertility support group within the church that allowed other women going through similar circumstances to come and air out their frustrations and know they weren’t the only ones going through a tough time.
“I don’t think there has been a time since then that God hasn’t put someone in my life to pray for who is struggling with having a child,” Jessica said. “There hasn’t been a time since then I haven’t been praying for God to bring another child into this world.”