A Small Church: Challenges and Rewards: Part 1 (Arrival) #15

God’s assignments are a challenge, even with God’s provision of necessary resources

Sally Jo, 1 year old Carla and I arrived in Bakerville, CT a week before classes were to begin for me in Hartford. The plan had been – retiring minister moves out of parsonage, ceilings (chunks of plaster had already fallen) and carpet replaced – we would move in. The reality: The retiring minister had not moved out. The work could not be done.

Until we could move into the parsonage, the District Superintendent arranged for us to live in a very inexpensive motel – one small room with cooking facilities. The motel location was not good: a busy road, 1 hour to church, half hour to school. Each morning I drove our car to school leaving Sally Jo and Carla in this difficult setting.

On Sunday morning we were excited as we headed to the beautiful church in the country. We had been told that only eight people would be in church. I guess we did not believe it! But…7 elderly women and 1 teenage organist = 8. After church no one invited us to their home for dinner. We then drove the short distance down the road to check out progress on the parsonage – and there was none. The retiring minister and his wife had not moved out. The ride back to the motel was very quiet and seemed very long!

Week two – no change! Week three – no change! And so I went to the former minister, and told him that on Monday our family was going to move into the pastor’s office in the church and that he had one week to move out of the parsonage or I would move him out. He said I would never do that, and I said “just try me!” On Monday the District Superintendent had a mattress delivered to the floor of church office/study…and we officially moved to Bakerville, CT.

We unloaded our Nash Rambler station wagon at the church; we asked the gas station attendant where to buy groceries – nearest real grocery store was fifteen miles west in Torrington. We returned to the church, put our groceries in the kitchen, and prepared to spend the night.

That week the former minister and his wife moved out leaving a house full of “stuff”. Each morning I headed for school – with the security of knowing that Sally Jo and Carla had a wonderful lawn on which to play, a very spacious kitchen in which to prepare dinner, and a large dining room/fellowship hall in which to eat. Even a nursery with toys!

After the parsonage was emptied, sheet rock installer arrived at the parsonage, broke out the sagging plaster ceiling and set to work. We continued to live at the church. One day a homemade apple pie appeared on our church “bedroom” window sill. Another day, when Sally Jo and Carla had to vacate because the Garden Club was using the building, a woman invited them to come to her house. Later, Bob and Alice, a couple about our age, came by after work to invite us to their home for dinner and a shower. When Bob and Alice learned we were about to move in, they said they would come on Saturday to help. I contacted the furniture mover and they agreed to deliver on Saturday – at no additional cost. Friday afternoon the carpet arrived. Four weeks of living under unusual circumstances and we were ready to move into the parsonage!

Saturday morning Bob and Alice arrived, and soon after, the moving van. The driver then handed me the bill for the move from Alabama and three months storage and said he could not unload until he was paid in cash. I had expected the bill – but had no clue that C.O.D. was required. The banks were closed. I was stunned! Then I saw Bob’s smile. Bob, who weighed screws for a large factory, was the keeper of the employee gambling pool. He drove home, returned in a few minutes with a large wad of cash and the unloading commenced!

God indeed moves in mysterious ways! God guided us to the school. God then provided the church, parsonage, income, congregation, organist, un-packers, and the cash to pay the movers! God was with us!

“Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” — Matthew 10:30

We must never forget this truth! We can have no clue how God works to care for all his people – but He does!

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