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Gone Home to Glory!
Mel Sabaka
May 3rd, 1923 – Dec. 8th, 2011

Founding Pastor of First Bible Church
A Good Soldier of Jesus Christ
Pastor Mel Sabaka

There is no adequate way to express what Pastor Mel Sabaka has meant to all of us here at First Bible Church. More than one person told me over the last few days that no other Christian made more of a lasting impact on their lives than Mel Sabaka. I would have to say the same. My personal debt to him is very great. I was glad the Lord gave me the chance once more to see him in Las Vegas at his home before he died and thank him for the things he taught me and the things I “caught” from just being around him. He was a man’s man and had a soldier’s attitude toward everything he did. I wish those of you who came into our church after 1993 could have known him better. Even until a few months ago he called First Bible Church his “baby” and the thought that this work was continuing on for the glory of Jesus Christ gave him great joy. Mel Sabaka was in that number of truly great men of God in our generation, men like Lester Roloff, Tom Malone, Oliver B. Greene, Hyman Appleman and B. R. Lakin to name a few; men who were my heroes, who one by one, have finished their course with joy and gone home to glory. Pastor Mel was ready, eager to see his Saviour. He went home peacefully in his bed, at 88 years of age, surrounded by his family and the one dearest to him on this earth, his wife Jeanne. They were happily married for 63 years! Heaven is going to be a wonderful place! Make sure you’re ready!

Pastor Mike Veach - 12/11/11

  • The Sabaka Family- Linda, Mel Dan and Jeanne The Sabaka Family- Linda, Mel Dan and Jeanne
  • Pastor Mel and Jeanne in front of our first building Pastor Mel and Jeanne in front of our first building
  • Pastor Mel and Dan preparing for our first service Pastor Mel and Dan preparing for our first service
  • Pastor Mel and his beloved Jeanne in 2009 Pastor Mel and his beloved Jeanne in 2009
  • Pastor Mel and Pastor Mike in 2010 Pastor Mel and Pastor Mike in 2010

Pastor Mel’s Obituary

Pastor Mel Sabaka

Rev. Melvin Paul Sabaka went to sleep at his home in Las Vegas, Nev. on Dec. 8, 2011 and woke up in heaven, face to face at last with his Lord and Savior whom he had served and preached about for over 60 years. Mel was born May 3, 1923 in Canton, Ohio. Mel graduated from Timken High School and attended Kent State and Malone College. He received an honorary doctorate from Great Plains Baptist College Divinity School of South Dakota in 1986. He proudly served his country as an Army Ranger with Merrill's Marauders in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Mel served with Tommy Thomas in the Canton City Rescue Mission for many years before becoming the Youth Pastor of Canton Baptist Temple in 1965. He had many visions and one of which was to build a camp to minister to the youth and as a result Camp CHOF became a reality. That ministry is still going strong today. Another vision he had was to plant a church in NYC. So at the age of 52 in 1975 the Lord called him to Staten Island, NY, where he, his wife, and son started Bible Baptist Church now known as First Bible Church. He also had a vision for his congregation and started a discipleship program training people to study God's Word and live God-glorifying lives. He loved people, rich or poor, small or great, young or old. He listened to them, counseled them and led them by example. If there was a down and dirty job, he was the first one in the ditch and the last one out. His other ministries in the church included a Christian school, binding and shipping scriptures all over the world, working in the rescue missions in Manhattan and many others. He had many visions that countless men and women all over are carrying on to the glory of God. Mel never met a stranger. He had three goals in a conversation: to bring a smile to your face, to let you know there was joy in serving his Lord and Savior, and to give you something to remember…and he always did just that. His greatest joy was spending time with his family which was not always easy because the Lord's work always kept him busy. He gave his life to full time ministry, and he really did practice what he preached! In the words of his hero of the faith, the apostle Paul, Mel truly believed, "To live is Christ and to die is gain." We who knew him best loved him most!

He was preceded in death by his parents, Michael and Mabel Sabaka; one brother, Raymond Sabaka; and one nephew, Michael Sabaka. He is survived and will be dearly missed by his wife, Jean (Engle) Sabaka, whom he married May 7, 1949; two children, Linda (Ray) Barnhart of Tenn., Daniel (Maureen) Sabaka of Nev.; five grandchildren, Eric (Lisa) Barnhart of Va., Ryan (Kim) Barnhart of Tenn., Michael Sabaka of Nev., Lyndsay Sabaka of Colo., Christopher Sabaka of Texas; five great-grandchildren, Reagan, Riley, Amelia, Molly, Kathryn Barnhart; twobrothers, Edward Sabaka of Ohio, Jim Sabaka of Fla.; many nieces and nephews; and thousands of spiritual children who trusted Jesus through his ministry.

Published in The (Canton) Repository on December 14, 2011