The Rolla Church of the Nazarene is not a large church, but we do big things through the power of our Lord Jesus. A few years ago, we felt strongly called to begin ministering in Newburg, Missouri, a small community near our town of Rolla. Our first step was to try to partner with a foodbank in a larger city nearby, Columbia, Missouri, to provide food assistance to the people in Newberg.
We began paperwork and applied for a grant; however, nothing seemed to be happening.
To complicate matters, I developed some health issues that caused me to slow down signi cantly and to be out of the office for some time. Thankfully, just as I got back in the o ce, the foodbank came to the office and presented us with a grant check for $7,500 to begin the food distribution. The first month of the ministry, we received only one or two pallets of food, but we were overwhelmed at this great gift!
God continued to bless us beyond our wildest dreams. One incredible answer to prayer that comes to mind is from the annual hog roast we host at our Rolla church. Typically, people sign up to bring staple items we need, such as buns, barbeque sauce, and watermelons. But this year, only one person had signed up to bring watermelon.
My wife began to pray for this matter about the time when we were scheduled soon to receive our monthly food distribution. Yes, you guessed it! In that distribution shipment, God not only put two giant crates of watermelons, but also sweet corn, individual bags of chips, and ice cream cups! This wonderful provision, not only helped us host a successful hog roast for the community, but we were also able to distribute hundreds of pounds of food that month into the Newburg community.
We continue to distribute food, now receiving about 20–25 pallets of food each month. We share that food with approximately 225 families every month, which feeds about 1,000 people. The foodbank reported that our little church was responsible for distributing $250,000 worth of food into the communities we served that year. That included only what we received from the food bank—not the regular donations we received from businesses such as Panera Bread, Big Lots, and others!
This work in Newburg surpassed all our expectations, but God was not finished yet. As we distributed the food, we strove to involve other churches and ministries. We recognized that we were a smaller church with an older congregation, and we knew we would need help for the giant task we were undertaking. God provided, and we are blessed now to have at least six churches partnering with us each month to help the community.
One of these partner churches was a 140-year-old United Methodist church in Newburg. The congregation was reduced to just seven members, but several of them helped us each month. As we got to know these people, we heard about their nancial struggle to keep the church going; they had already contacted their district leaders about voting to close or stay open.
One day, as our church team headed to Newburg for a luncheon event, we passed the old Methodist church. One of our board members suggested that we approach that church about renting their building and having services there. I don’t think they’ll ever agree to that, I thought, but God compelled us to ask anyway.
We set up a meeting with their board, which basically included everyone still at the church. We presented our idea, but they were not very willing to consider it. I believe they were tired from trying for so long to survive. Their board voted 4-3 to close rather than accept our offer, but they voted 7-0 to give us a check for $1,000 towards our ministries in Newburg.
A few days later, while I still had the check sitting on my desk, I received a call from their district superintendent wondering if we were interested in purchasing the building and property. This is where that boldness God talks about in scripture kicked in for me. The DS talked with me about what they would likely ask for the property and asked me to make an offer.
I sat staring at the $1,000 check on my desk. Not thinking it would be enough, I offered $1,000 plus any closing costs. The DS took my offer to their advisory board and they accepted it! We would be the owners of this new facility free and clear, without even having to raise the money. God had a plan for us to be in this building and to use it for His glory!
Once we received appropriate approval from our district, we purchased the property using the money we had received from the last members of that church. Since the closing costs were also donated, we took possession of the property with no cost to our local church! We did some minor remodeling and clean-up; then in June of 2016, we launched Abundant Blessings Family Ministry Center. The launch brought out 53 people from around the district and com munity. Even better, the Lord moved in that service, and at least one person came into relationship with Jesus.
Ministry at Abundant Blessings has blossomed since then. We have worship services each Thursday evening, with dinner following worship; we have settled into a consistent attendance between 20 to 25 people each week. We also began a Celebrate Recovery Group on Friday evenings. Through these great ministries, many people have made decisions for the Lord. We allow the fellowship hall and outdoor facilities to be used for local community events, have hosted several clothing giveaways, and host a monthly family movie night.
We also began a senior luncheon in Newburg like the one we host in Rolla each month. In Rolla, we serve between 75 and 80 seniors each month; our Newburg luncheon feeds 10 or so. We will soon offer life skill classes which will include resume preparation, basic budgeting, and even some healthy eating classes. Our board is also praying for direction and resources for a possible Hispanic congregation.
Through all these experiences, we have learned that God has many big, great plans for our little community! We need to be patient and let Him lead. God’s plans are so amazing! Beyond all we could ask or imagine.