Every so often, a pastor acquaintance of mine north of here in Tipton, IN, writes me and asks if I would fill in for him and preach. It doesn’t happen often, maybe once or twice a year, but I really look forward to the opportunity to get up in the pulpit and share God’s word. Well, about a month ago, I received an email from him and was asked to stand in for him today. He was off on a short break this week and spent the time away communing with God – just working on his our relationship with our Lord and getting ministered to by the greatest minister of all.
Throughout the years, I have made the trip to Tipton 10 or 12 times. The people there are very friendly and Janet and I always feel like a part of the congregation. Today, our son Andrew went with us to be a part of the morning with us. When we arrived, we could tell that the church looked different. There was that “new car” smell to the place. Now this church has been in the countryside for quite a period of time, but it looked like the place had been completely re-done.
Sure enough, we found out that the heavy rains this spring had almost completely destroyed the church. There is a creek that runs behind the church and it overflowed its banks – eventually causing massive flooding in the church itself. The basement took on more than 8′ of water and the entire front half of the first floor was covered in water and mud. The youth group came in and tried to help remove carpeting and anything else that was destroyed by the disaster. All the pews in the sanctuary were ruined and had to be removed and trashed. The entire congregation pulled together in this time of crisis.
Some of the electronics had to be replaced, the baseboards and lower casings had to be removed, the entire structure sprayed to prevent mold and the drying process had to be completed. Needless to say, drywall had to be replaced and everything needed a new coat of paint. Now this isn’t some megachurch that could just throw $100,000 at repairs like this. No – this is a small country church – a true group of believers who go through life together and this disaster was just another way for them to pull together and accomplish something that seemed impossible.
Another church that heard about the problem donated $5000 toward the re-construction of the sanctuary. Skilled tradesmen donated their labor to get the little church back on its feet. A local church donated hundreds of chairs for their worship services and I even noticed a new baby grand piano on the platform today. What a blessing when the people of the community bound themselves together to overcome this challenge!
Our friends only moved back into their space several weeks ago – and VBS (vacation Bible school) continued without interruption. It is really something to see, up close and personal, how communities really come together in times of need. The verse tonight reflects God’s desire for us to work together. From Heb. 10:24-25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
My encouragement this evening is to affirm that God wants to make sure that we continue to encourage one another. Life will be full of challenges, but God knows His people and we can persevere. My prayer is that you won’t lose courage when the going gets tough. The community of believers is counting on you! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace….