A great event was planned on Sunday, October 14, 1984 at First Baptist Church of Milford. After weeks of praying and fasting, the church house at 745 Center Street was bursting at the seams with the anticipation that God would move on hearts and would do what it would take God to do. On that day, the Spirit-filled preaching of Dr. Curtis Hudson was God’s instrument of choice. At the invitation, many souls, convinced of their lost condition, came to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. Among those who were gloriously saved were Bob and Vinnie Bartlett. Bob and Vinnie Bartlett came in contact with First Baptist Church through the ministry of the Christian school. Though lost, they were nonetheless conscientious parents seeking a solid education for their son Tim. Ed Bragg was principal of Milford Christian Academy when young Tim Bartlett was a student.
Bro. Bragg, understanding the spiritual needs of Tim’s parents, visited them in their home and challenged them to attend First Baptist Church’s BIG DAY. Dr. Curtis Hudson presented the Gospel in a way that Bob and Vinnie Bartlett knew was especially for them. When Bob walked the aisle, Vinnie followed. The Lord saved them miraculously on that October day.
Bob’s life was radically changed. He told all his old friends of his conversion to Christ. On one occasion, Bob had two pews at church filled with fellow employees and his boss, a well-known business owner in the Cincinnati area for many years. Bob became an especially effective soul-winner.
As Bob grew in the Lord, he knew that being a heating and air conditioning man was not all God had for him in this life. He surrendered his life to go wherever God would have him serve. During the mission conference in February 1985 (the first missions conference at the present site on Woodville Pike), Bob made public his call to ministry.
He enrolled in the School of the Scriptures at First Baptist Church in September 1985 and graduated in May 1988. Through his friendship with Hershel Case, Bob and Vinnie began to pray about the possibility of joining the Cases in Australia. In the near record time of 18 months of deputation, Bob and Vinnie raised their support and arrived on the field of Australia on December 7, 1989.
God used the Bartletts to plant two churches in Australia. Bob and Vinnie worked in the city of Brisbane for nine years turning the church over to an Australian pastor in 1999. In 2000, the Bartletts went north to the city of Toowoomba and started another work with three families. They labored with this church for nine years.
One of the men from the original families surrendered his life for full-time service. Bro. Bob, working closely with Tim Bunch, mentored him, utilizing the model of 2 Timothy 2:2. In 2009, upon Bro. Bartlett’s recommendation, the church extended a call for Bro. Bunch to become their pastor. The Lord continues to bless both churches that the Bartletts planted. Fellowship Baptist Church, Brisbane, Australia, celebrated their 33rd church anniversary this year. Garden City Baptist Church, Toowoomba, Australia will celebrate their 23rd church anniversary next month.
First Baptist Church is grateful for the ministry of the Bartletts in a difficult field. Their testimony, surrender, and dedication are exemplary. Those who know them and who were influenced by their ministry give witness to their love for the Lord and for the souls for whom He died.