The transformation of The First Baptist Church of Nanty Glo Pa. goes so far beyond the fire that destroyed the brick, wood and mortar. God’s faithfulness, His wisdom and discernment, His keeping His promises indeed humbles us.
He is indeed faithful. But how easy for us it is to wander...and wonder.
Psalm 66:12 (NIV) “...we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.
I wonder if Mrs. E.C. Davis could have envisioned the transformation of FBC from a “Sabbath School” to a million dollar structure that has seemed to take forever, not 3 years, to rebuild after we went through the fire and water. She wanted to bring the Gospel to Nanty Glo 108 years ago. Period. She wasn’t concerned about insurance adjusters...thought never crossed her mind. Codes? Variances? Timetables? Nah
It was this little ol’ lady (meaning absolutely no disrespect, she’s one of my heroes), no draftsman, no engineer, no architect...to whom Jesus whispered “Teach...Preach the Word.” “I will provide the place. I will handle the finances. I set the timetable. After all, I tell the sun what time to appear on the horizon...not just today...EVERY day. I feed the sparrows. I store the snow and rain. I give YOU breath. That’s MY job God says...MY responsibility.“
“You take my Word to Nanty Glo. You love the unloved. You tell ‘em I am the only hope, the only satisfaction, the only comfort, the only TRUTH, the only SALVATION. Don’t concern yourself about gaslines, powerlines, how far you need to be from each street to build, handicap ramps and parking. The only logistics you need to concern yourself with is showing folks how to get from here to heaven. Simply. Through ME.” Not denomination, not what church they go to...ME. Not after they become members of your “school”...not after they get baptized in Evans Run. Forget: Big Little, Wide, New, Shiny, Color of the Carpet, Time of Service, Length of Service, Hymns or Contemporary music, Piano or Keyboard hangups. Stop it.
How easy it’s been to allow Satan to distract us, concern us, overwhelm us, disappoint and frustrate us because our “church” was destroyed, how many of us have blamed that rotten Devil for screwing up our worship, torturing our memories and throwing roadblocks into the rebuilding. How DARE he cause us to use two different architects to design and revise and revise and revisereviserevise...How DARE he stand over our building as it burned...HOW DARE HE...
How difficult it’s been to focus on Jesus...His Will...His Timing, when Satan takes the blame.
No one but the Rebuilding Committee and myself know the frustrations, so I’ll share that. I can only speak for me as the shepherd when I share the lack of sleep, the heartache, the prayers for wisdom, the pleading to Jesus that “I don’t want to miss anything”. I’m aware of the buzz. “They shoulda’ got a different architect, shoulda’ picked a different contractor.” “How did the fire start in the first place?” That rotten Satan.
Quite frankly, I’ve felt from the moment I stood at the corner of Second and Chestnut, watching brave men battle a fire that God was insisting they would not extinguish til He had accomplished His Will...hearing Him speak to my heart saying “NOW it’s time to lead.”...that God’s hand was all OVER this. I see a miracle. The cause not being totally identified, the fire starting in a room that defies logic, the unbelievably quick response time of Station 43 and others, the heat that one fireman described as the most intense he had experienced in 15 years of firefighting, the call to “Get out NOW!” that the engineer yelled to two fire companies before they entered the sanctuary, just seconds before the roof collapsed. The doe that meandered down Chestnut Street, gingerly stepping over fire hoses WHILE the firemen were draining them and rolling them up. 130 people showing up at the Nanty Glo Firehall just a few hours after the church was destroyed to thank God for His Providence and Protection.
Oh yeah. I see a miracle. We can’t explain any of it, our God is powerful enough and strong enough, had the foresight enough to have prevented the past three years from panning out as they did. The “building” Jesus was concerned with in 1913 is the same “building” He was concerned with...loved...on November 8, 2015...and the same “Church” at this update.
People. Lost people. Hurting people. People who lack a “rudder”. People who don’t know of God’s promises. People misguided in believing that a building can make a difference in where they spend eternity...that church history or baptism or how they worship or whether it’s hymns or contemporary music will somehow add or shuffle them closer to their salvation.
This “update” is long. Did the author take a tangent and roll away from the building update? If that’s what the reader thinks, you’ve missed God’s point.
A few of the building committee members and I did a walk-through with the Project Manager as the roof trusses were being hoisted and fastened into place. The Fellowship Hall is enormous without any posts or encumbrances. The kitchen well equipped to feed. The Sanctuary is large and spacious, with vaunted ceiling, baptistry and stage. In the transom above the doors to the sanctuary will be our little, historic “First Baptist Church” stained glass window. Plans for ministries to reach married couples, little kids, teens along with present Bible Studies are included in the church “design”, but will require flesh and heart rather than wood or carpet.
My office nicer and bigger than I deserve...but in which I will spend little time.
The “church”...the work...is out there.
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