Crossroads New Baptist Church near Little Rock recently celebrated their 50th anniversary. This is the story of how God answers prayer to revitalize a church.
In February of 2018, the pastor had recently resigned, and rumors were circulating in the community that the church would be closing. It did appear bleak with attendance declining in recent months. Two years earlier the decision had been made to move services out of the more than 40-year-old church building due to water issues, so the congregation was meeting in the adjacent metal “activities” building for worship and Bible study. The small congregation at that time was mostly over 60 and predominantly widows and women whose husbands did not attend. Other than that, there were three children under the age of 13 and two men who attended regularly.
Dave McClung, who was then a member of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) Church Planting Team, was invited to meet with the group to discuss options for the future. It was determined that closing would be a last option, revitalizing and replanting would be the goal for this small band of believers with a heart for their community.
Wednesday nights were devoted to prayer with no agenda other than to seek God’s face and His will for the future of the church. Petitions were lifted for God to bring young families, men, youth and children’s teachers, a worship leader, a pastor, and to provide finances to continue. During these weekly prayer meetings, specific names of people in the community who needed to be delivered from the bondage of drugs and alcohol were lifted to Heaven.
Within four months God began to provide answers above and beyond what was asked or imagined.
A young couple with a burden for those suffering from addiction returned to the church where she had grown up and expressed a desire to begin a Celebrate Recovery type ministry. A man from the community called and said he believed he could help to eliminate the mildew that had plagued the church building.
On June 1, less than four months after those prayer meetings began, a plan was made to begin cleaning and moving back into their building. This was a step of faith that God would provide the finances and the physical labor to begin the restoration process. Work began immediately. Family members and others from the community volunteered to help. A group of students attending Engage Camp, a camp sponsored by the ABSC, came to clean pews while some helped in VBS. A Sunday School class from a neighboring church gave money to replace flooring in the nursery and preschool classrooms.
In October of that year, a baptism service for two students was held in the worship center that no longer smelled of mildew! At the same time God was answering the prayers for the restoration of the physical building, He was also answering the prayers for a young man named Jesse to be delivered from the bondage of drugs.
While working in the area, a Bivocational pastor was impressed to send his resume to the church. Even though he never mailed that resume, God saw to it that his name was provided to the church leaders, and he was invited to meet with the church. In February 2019, exactly one year after the pulpit was vacated, Mike Smith was called as pastor with a 100 percent vote.
During 2019, God continued to answer those prayers above and beyond what could have been imagined. A worship leader and his wife, an accomplished pianist, felt the Holy Spirit drawing them back to the church where he had been saved as a young boy. A group of volunteers from Alabama answered the call of Arkansas Baptist Builders Coordinator Jackie James to provide the labor to remodel the worship center and restrooms. The stories of how materials were provided, and people stepped up to help are numerous. The growing congregation celebrated Christmas with a concert in a beautifully decorated sanctuary, surpassed their $5,000 Lottie Moon Christmas Offering goal, sent a record number of boxes to Operation Christmas Child and blessed several families in the community with toys.
Then Covid hit in 2020 just one week after a community outreach free yard sale had been held and in-person worship was temporarily halted. But God continued to answer prayers as He provided the means to purchase the equipment for online worship and a “little free food pantry” was set up to minister to the community.
Since reopening, a Celebrate Recovery® group has begun meeting weekly and teachers for children and youth are being discipled. Young families have joined and there are now men actively participating in fellowship, discipleship and missions projects.
God answered the prayers of a faithful few and positioned His church to reach her community in the next 50 years. We share this story to encourage a sister church who might be declining to let you know that even though small in number you can pray and serve your community and God can work miracles. Just look what He did with a few small fish and a little bit of bread.