A God Story
A man named Noah and his family were on an Ark he built with two of every kind of animal on earth and were the only survivors after a world wide flood. Now that’s a God story! A man named Abraham and his wife Sarah has a child when Sarah was 100 years old. Now that’s a God story! The Red Sea parted with a wall of water on the left and the right, passing between on dry land were millions of Jews formerly enslaved in Egypt. Now that’s a God story! A well fortified city thought to be impenetrable called Jericho had it’s walls come crashing down after Joshua and the Israelites walked around it for 7 days and blew a bunch of horns. Now that’s a God story! A man named Daniel survived a night in a den with lions. Now that’s a God story! A shepherd boy defeated a giant with just a sling and some stones. Now that’s a God story! A man named Nehemiah lead a group of returned Israelites to build a huge wall in just 52 days. Now that’s a God story! A woman named Esther saved an entire group of people with her boldness at risk of her own life. Now that’s a God story!
A woman named Mary gave birth to a child as a virgin. Now that’s a God story! That child was the Son of God, He was God Incarnate who would heal the sick, give vision to the blind, made the paralyzed to walk and even raised the dead. Now that’s a God story! He would eventually be crucified, buried and three days later rise from the grave defeating sin and death eventually ascending into heaven. Now that’s a God story! He would pour into 12 ordinary men from various backgrounds and 11 of them and countless others would take the gospel throughout the known world. Now that’s a God story! A man named Saul, a former murder of Christian’s became the greatest evangelist and church planter in the world. Now that’s a God story!
I love looking through God’s word as it serves as a corridor to history and seeing the hand of God at work, after all – all of history is His story. I love how in the hands of our Creator we see Him take the ordinary and use them to do the extraordinary. Our God is not just a God of the distant past however but of the not so distant past, and of the present, as well as of the future. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow!
If you would be so inclined allow me to tell you a story; it is a bit of a long story but it is one that needs to be told. A story that begins a little over 8 years ago.
In 2008 a man was wondering if the company he was working for was going to make it. The recession had hit and hit hard and it looked like the doors may shut. He was a follower of Christ so he prayed. During that time a 29 year old man was finishing up his year long parole after having served 2 years in prison for selling drugs. Little did they know but their lives would cross about 7 and 1/2 years later. At that time in their lives however they were just going through life the former trying to walk the narrow path carved out by his Savior Jesus Christ and the latter on the broad road of destruction looking for any meaning to life but suspecting there was none.
Miles away in a little town in Oklahoma called Coweta men and women who loved the Lord would gather just like they had for 20 plus years Sunday after Sunday and worship in a little church known to those in the community as Emmanuel Southern Baptist Church. They were followers of Christ and so they prayed that God would help them make an impact on their town for the Kingdom of God.
As 2010 rolled around that company the man prayed would stay a float just two years earlier was not only doing so but was now thriving. That little church in that little town was still meeting, still praising, still trying to reach those who didn’t know the truth of Jesus with the gospel and the former convict was working a legal job but was becoming more and more depressed every day.
That former prisoner was sitting on the edge of his bed late one May night in 2010 having just gotten home from his night shift at a local restaurant. He was soaked from washing the dishes and he sat there and cried into his hands feeling his life had no purpose and no meaning. He thought about how his life had gone, he thought about the fact he was now 31 and working a dead end job still living at his parents house. He saw no light at the end of the tunnel, He saw no hope. He thought the best thing to do was to kill himself, after all what was the point of living?
Instead of killing himself however he did something that he hadn’t done since he was in prison…out of desperation he prayed. Through that prayer he was led (through a Google search no less) to a church in the Oklahoma city he lived in, called Broken Arrow, that very next day for Sunday service. He would sit in his car for about 10 minutes debating whether or not to go inside. He thought if they knew who he was and what he had done in his life they would never accept him. He was wrong! They showed him love as soon as he walked in. That day he heard the gospel preached and it was if he and the preacher were the only two in the room. It was if the preacher could see straight through him as he spoke. He came back the next week and even though it was a different preacher it had the same affect. He realized is wasn’t who was speaking that was having the affect on him but the Word that was being spoken. After meeting with a man from the church for lunch the following Wednesday he gave his life to the Lord that next Sunday, May 16, 2010. The very next week he was baptized.
During that same year the people of that little church about 20 miles from the big church that former prisoners life had been saved at were starting to pray to God for a way they could make a greater impact for God’s Kingdom in their community. They felt like to make a greater impact they needed more resources and so they started praying for a bigger sized church to come along and help them with the work of God there. Little did they know a group of men in the city of Broken Arrow 20 miles away were praying for a way they could minister to the people that lived in the county that small church was in. The small church Emmanuel Southern Baptist reached out to that big church 20 miles away, First Baptist Broken Arrow, and after much prayer and discussion Emmanuel Southern Baptist Church became Community Baptist Church Coweta a campus of First Baptist Broken Arrow. On October 9th 2011 Community Baptist Coweta had it’s very first service on the grounds of what was formerly known as Emmanuel Southern.
In 2012 that former prisoner answered God’s call on his life and entered into full time ministry. At the close of that year he came on to the staff of the very church he was saved and baptized at as their pastor over the college age ministry and their Celebrate Recovery ministry. God would move him in the Fall of 2014 out to the Coweta campus as their interim pastor while they searched for a pastor to fill the spot left by the previous campus pastor who was called to a senior pastor position in Texas. Apprehensive at first he fell in love with the church, the people and the small town of Coweta quickly. On Jan. 1 of 2015 he became there full time campus pastor and remains so to this day.
Community Baptist is a beautiful red bricked church with a white steeple that sits on approximately 7 acres of land off the main highway that runs through town. There is a multifunctional metal building that sits right beside it and a playground for the kids. It is warm and inviting which matches perfectly with the people and the Spirit you will find on the inside. Sometimes it can be somewhat hard to see though because there is an acre of land in front of the church that has a business that sits on that acre in front.
As the church started growing and as God continued to bring people to faith through the ministry of the church room started to become a premium. On an average Sunday the 180 seat worship center has 65-75 people in the first service and 150-160 in the second service. There are usually 40 preschoolers and 35 1-5th graders in the back children’s area as well. It is always an exciting place to be on Sunday mornings.
Now if you happened to be driving down that highway on an afternoon during those days you would see the pastor walking circles around the church talking to himself. The reality is he was prayer walking around the building asking God to provide more land for the church to grow. He would walk and he would pray on countless occasions for God to open the door to get the property of that front acre. Having approached the owner of that business before he had told the church that he was not wanting to sale so the pastor kept walking and the pastor kept praying.
God moves in mysterious ways sometimes and in 2016 through a series of events that I won’t go into detail about the business owner became willing to sell the property. For $250,000 the church could purchase the frontage road acre that sat in front of the growing church. The church in Broken Arrow and their great leadership had determined long ago never to build with debt; everything they would do would be done debt free. The church in Broken Arrow has a beautiful $14 million campus built totally debt free. In light of this the campus in Coweta would do the same. It was agreed upon that the people of the Broken Arrow campus would be responsible for $100,000 of the $250,000 and the Coweta campus would be responsible for raising the rest.
The campus pastor of Coweta set out praying a bold prayer that their campus could come up with their portion of the money in two years. Then he began praying an even bolder prayer that they could have the money in one year. In October of 2016 the proposal to purchase the land was presented to both campuses and unanimously approved. The people responded enthusiastically and in the first two weeks they already had giving $10,000 toward the goal! As the campus pastor sat down at his desk one day he got a email from a family who had started attending the Coweta campus wanting to meet for breakfast. Excited to get to know them better the arrangements were made and on a Friday morning the former prisoner now pastor, his wife and their 3 year old daughter sat down to breakfast in a restaurant with the husband and wife who were the new attendees. They talked for close to two hours and all seemed to really enjoy the conversation and all were excited about the future of the church and the direction God was leading it.
Now if you remember earlier in the story I said that that man whose company was looking like it was going to go under in 2008 the same time that former convict who would become a pastor was serving parole after being released from prison paths would cross? Well it was at this breakfast that they did. Now sure, they had passed a couple times in church but that morning it was those two men and their families that sat down to breakfast. And remember how in 2010 that company that man worked for not only stayed afloat but started to thrive and that same year that former prisoner placed his faith in Jesus becoming a new creation? And remember how in 2015 that man became the campus pastor in Coweta? Well it turns out that same year the company that that man worked for sold. That man had been wise to invest in that company and as a result was blessed financially with a large portion of money. As these two sat across the table from each other the one man told the other that he had set aside a certain portion of money to give to a church home they found when they moved into their new town of Coweta. It was only after a couple of visits they knew God was calling them to Community and they became members. They sat in the seats inside the worship center the morning the campus pastor told them about the plan to buy the acre in front of the church. And remember how I said that the amount that campus was to be responsible for was $150,000 well guess how much that couple had set aside to be used by God for His kingdom? You guessed right – exactly $150,000!
The pastors mouth hit the floor and tears rolled down his cheek. He felt foolish his faith had been so small to pray for God to deliver the money in a year and God said I can do it in a month! It was such a joyous time! But wait there’s more. That same couple would not only give the $150,000 for the purchase of the land but give another $150,000 towards the new worship center that was to be built on the land to provide more room for the growing church. That is not to even mention that over the course of the building campaign of 13 weeks the church had already giving $32,000 in conjuction to the the $300,000 given!
Now I want to make sure that you understand what this story is really all about. You see if your not careful you will think this is a story about how God orchestrated the large donation of $300,000 to buy some land to build a new worship center on. And even though that is true and praise God for that that is not the heart of the story nor is it the reason I am writing this story. No the heart of this story is about faithfulness and obedience.
You see it was because a man was faithful and obedient to pray and stay the course when things looked bleak and the company might sink. You see it was because of the faithfulness and obedience of the people of that small church to reach out into that community for so many years and to pray for God’s direction. It was because of the faithfulness and obedience of a church leadership 20 miles away to go to their knees and pray for a way to reach the lost in the community of Coweta. It was because of the faithfulness and obedience of that former prisoner to answer the call of ministry God placed on his life. It was because of the faithfulness and obedience of those who left their church home in Broken Arrow and came out to Coweta to help launch the campus. It was because of the faithfulness and obedience of that body of believers at Community Baptist Coweta to share the gospel with their friends and invite friends to church that caused the need for more space to begin with.
You may say you don’t hear of God stories today like in the Bible but trust me they are happening…I should know because that former convict is me. I witnessed this story unfold before my very eyes. And who would have thought when I was sitting in a prison cell in 2006 and 2007 that in 2010 I would come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of my life, answer my call to ministry in 2012, become a pastor in 2013 and the campus pastor of our church’s Coweta campus in 2015? I guess God did.
Now that’s a God story!
And He is just getting started!