It’s almost been a year. It’s almost been a year since we said our goodbyes. We all have our story about August 3, 2010, when the building was destroyed by a fire. Here’s my story. It’s not any more important than any other person’s story. I’ve just wanted to share for a while. Here’s a few snapshots…
My story starts on Friday, July 30th of last year. The congregation had hosted a bunch of youth here from Pennsylvania, who were doing all sorts of projects and showing people love. God’s love. That night was the last night of worship and devotions. It was done by a bonfire. It was an amazing night. Mandy gave the message. I can’t remember what she talked about. I do remember after listening to her recommitting myself to Jesus that night. I was ready to serve with even more passion than before.
On Saturday, July 31st, we (meaning Chris and I) had some good friends over. We hadn’t seen them since we moved here. Chris and I hung out with them in the backyard. Our kids played. We told them that we loved it here. We hoped that God would have us serve in South Londonderry for a long time (which is still true today).
On Sunday, August 1st, the congregation held its last worship service at the former building. Being the first Sunday of the month we celebrated the Lord’s Supper. That building had held worship services for 176 years. Afterwards, the youth from Pennsylvania headed home.
On Monday, August 2nd, Chris and I had the day off. We went to lunch with Tim and Mandy and a few others. We went grocery shopping for vacation. That night we watched a movie that was way longer than we expected. We went to bed at midnight. We never go to bed that late.
On Tuesday, August 3rd, at 3 o’clock in the morning, we heard a voice yelling in our bedroom window. Chris ran down the street to the church. I stayed home cleaning and praying every time a fire truck flew by the house. When I got a chance to walk over, I met up with Bev. She said exactly what I was telling myself. “It’s only a building.” We were all trying to reassure ourselves. Chris and I called our family and our mentors a few hours later. We ate banana bread for breakfast that our friends had brought on Saturday. God provided. We spent the day walking back and forth between our home and the location of the former church hugging and chatting and doing whatever we could. For lunch a pizza appeared. We tried to eat, when we could get a piece down. God provided. That night we had a prayer vigil. We prayed. I worried that day, because I couldn’t remember how many times I had nursed my little one. I just couldn’t remember. That night we answered emails. Lots and lots of emails. We slept well that night, because, well, we were really tired.
On Wednesday, August 4th, we updated the website. Chris and I decided to postpone vacation that would have started the next week. No need to feel bad, because I had recommitted myself to Jesus Friday night. I had wanted that vacation so much, but I wanted to serve Jesus more. A family had us over for dinner. God provided.
I do not know why God allowed the building to be destroyed by fire. I do know that He can use something pretty terrible for good. I’ve seen it here in our little town of South Londonderry. I found myself saying a few weeks ago, “Besides not having a building, we’re doing great.” Praise God. We haven’t closed the doors. We’ve opened them even wider.
I’m going to close my longer than normal post with some scripture. During my daily reading, I found this passage from Isaiah this week. It is such a comfort and reminds me that God has kept His promises. “But now, this is what the LORD says… ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior’ (43:1-3a NIV)."
What are your reflections or scripture passages that you would like to share as we approach our one year mark? How do you think that God has brought good from the fire?
This is written by Kathleen Blackey, follower of Jesus and co-pastor at First Baptist Church.