WYNNE, Ark. – A lot has changed in the two years since The Bridge Church was officially launched back in March of 2019. With well over 200 people in attendance each Sunday, the church has outgrown the small building they were renting. When COVID hit, the church was forced to do something different. Pastor Dustin Clegg says that God provided them with a nearby building that they were able to purchase for a really good price. The old flea market building was located just two doors down from their original location. They were able to spend the time during the pandemic renovating the building while they met on the front porch for worship during the summer months.
While they were meeting outside, Clegg began preaching a series out of Jonah. He told the church that at the time it felt as though they were trapped in this COVID deal, just like Jonah had been trapped in the belly of the fish. “And all we’re thinking about is getting back. And I wonder if we’ve yet heard from God about what He wants from this?” From that, Clegg says the prayer of the church became, “God until we hear what you want us to hear and we are who you want us to be, keep us where we are. Keep us uncomfortable until we’ve heard from you.”
After the message that Sunday, Clegg invited the people inside the building where the stud walls had recently been constructed. He had the congregation take permanent markers and write their favorite Scriptures on the studs. Even though the verses would be covered up once the walls were complete, Clegg thought that covering the studs in Scripture was a good way to remind the congregation that God’s word was foundational for who they were as a church. He had no way of knowing at the time that God had other plans for those handwritten verses.
Fast forward six months to January. A man named James that was over the HVAC work for the building showed up at a gathering with his fiancé, his son, and step-daughter. A couple of weeks later, James approached Clegg and asked if he could get one of The Bridge’s hoodies. At the end of the gathering, he walked up to the stage and asked how much he owed for the hoodies that he had been given.
Clegg told him that he just happened to be there on the day that they were free, but James said he wanted to at least make a donation. “I told him where the giving box was. And then this big burly guy, his chin starts quivering. And he’s like, ‘Man, is there any way I can come talk to you?’ And I said, ‘Sure, you can talk to me anytime.’ And I didn’t think anything more about it.”
One day Clegg was in the building working when James walked in and said, “Do you remember me telling you that I need to come visit sometime? Well today is the day.” The flooring people were in the building and the electrician was standing over to the side so Clegg asked him if he wanted to go to his office to talk. “Well, we can, but I don’t care who hears this. I need to trust Jesus with my life,” James said.
So, they went to the church office and James told him, “I never wanted to go to Hell. I wanted Jesus to be my Savior, but I never wanted Him to be my Lord. But today I do.” Clegg asked him if he was ready to repent and tell Jesus that he wanted to place his faith in Him. And he said that James prayed the most incredible prayer for God to save him through the work of Jesus on the cross.
When he was finished praying, James told Clegg that his son didn’t know the Lord and had never been baptized. He knew that a big reason for that was because he had watched how his dad had lived, always running away from Jesus. James said he was ready to do the opposite, now he wanted his son to see him serving the Lord.
Then he said something that Clegg never expected. James asked if he knew when the Lord had first started working on him. When Clegg said he didn’t know, James told him that it was the day his crew had come to work on the HVAC system. He said, “I saw something on those studs, and I sent my crew to work on the HVAC and I walked around and read every one of those Scriptures. God was telling me right then that I needed that.’”
Clegg asked James how he felt about doing the welcome during the gathering on the following Sunday. He asked if James would be willing to tell everybody there, including his son, what the Lord had done in his life that week. James said yes, that he wanted to do it.
The following is an excerpt from James’ testimony given to the church on Sunday, March 7:
“I just want to take this time real fast to say thank you to everyone that wrote Scriptures on the walls during construction. I had the privilege of reading each one of them. And it was a constant reminder of the life I was supposed to be living. I haven’t been active in a church for a very long time, I haven’t lived the best life but wanted to turn it around.
So me and my fiancée decided to give The Bridge a shot. Well, the very first Sunday we came we got to watch a good ole dunking. After that dunking I was in tears. Fought them the whole way to Walmart the whole time in Walmart and then some. Brandi looks at me and says you know that’s the Lord right there.
So, we kept coming and every time I felt great afterwards, but I still didn’t feel right. Took me a little bit but I realized It didn’t feel right cause it only lasted for that one day. That one day that I associated myself with God. Between my fiancée being right and knowing what that feeling was but just not doing anything about it I decided to come fix that grill Tuesday.
Well, the grill still rattles but with the help of Dustin and Kirk I finally decided to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and fix me first. I just want to encourage anyone at the end of service when they ask if you want to accept Him in your life that you won’t be alone. I would be glad to stand with you and if I can do it then so can you. Thank you.”
A lot has changed in the last two years for The Bridge Church. The renovations continue and the church continues to add new ministry opportunities in an effort to reach the community. The church was opened as a warming center and people were able to wash clothes and take showers during the recent winter storm. Clegg says one man stayed at the building for three or four nights. The church has also recently opened a clothes closet in an effort to serve the community. “We were able to renovate this large space and still keep our identity. We’re still downtown in the right location to be able to be the bridge to both sides of the community,” Clegg said.
Clegg says the church has seen their share of spiritual warfare, but that God is doing some incredible things. Even beyond providing a new building. “I can’t really explain to you all the intricacies of what God is doing and how incredible it is. This coming Sunday, we’re starting a new series called “Not Yet.”
I’m preaching to the church about how we spent 2020. We spent a lot of energy in 2020 trying to get church experience into the life of church people. And I’m glad we did. I think that was the right thing to do. I’m not upset about that, but as the virus is slowing, I want to refocus on what our original vision was. And that is reaching people who are far from God. And I want to spend my energy in 2021 seeing that happen.”