The Old Church that Wouldn’t Sell – by Jarod Thomas

I sat alone in a gathering of pastors as the topic of our evening meeting turned to the subject of prayer.

This was not an uncommon occurrence, but this time something touched me. One of my colleagues began to share a story of how he gathered his elders early in the morning once a week to intercede for a soul in need. Usually the situation was desperate. As a result of their pleading, God had been intervening in a miraculous way.

As I listened to his testimony, I sensed God calling me to take action.

Our congregation had recently purchased a new building, but this building was not yet paid for. Our former church sat on a postage-stamp parcel on a busy street adjacent to the city firehouse. While the quaint white church was a landmark in town, the cramped facilities, lack of parking, and occasional wailing fire truck were more than an inconvenience.

However our spacious new church had a dated interior, sat on two acres, had an accommodating parking lot, and included the parsonage next door. Originally listed for $785,000 just three years prior, we purchased the facility for $185,000 — a discount of $600,000!

Our first Sabbath was Mother’s Day weekend. By September, we realized we had a problem when our old church building still hadn’t sold. Utilities and maintenance costs on two churches, combined with mortgage payments to the Lake Union, were beginning to challenge our church budget. With winter looming, we knew that something had to give, and soon.

When I heard the emphasis on sacrificial, united prayer, I sent letters to the entire congregation inviting them to do something crazy. I asked our membership to join me twice each week — at 5:30 in the morning — and pray for about an hour. We followed the united prayer model that we’d been using for the Ten Days of Prayer emphasis that we had participated in the past two years.

At first 15 people attended. Then it dwindled to 10. When the snow started to fly, we settled on five. But we persisted. And shortly after the dawn of the New Year, our old church sold — for the exact price that we purchased the new building: $185,000.

I’ll never forget having our last business meeting in that old, unheated building. The small crowd gathered in their heavy coats, sang a song, and thanked God for what He had done to sell the old church.

But that was not the end of the story. We have continued to pray, and since we have seen souls baptized that had formerly struggled to make a decision. And in the congregation’s sister church, a small group of men began gathering to pray for our ministry in the community. That little country church is now seeing the largest attendance to a prophecy seminar that it has seen in many years.

The past few years have taught me many things about united prayer. Numbers aren’t everything, but consistency is. And when God’s people set aside time to pray — especially when it accompanies a personal sacrifice — God’s people have His attention, and He moves on His own behalf to glorify Himself.

Jarod Thomas has been serving as a pastor in Michigan but is currently in the process of moving to Silver Spring Maryland, to work as communications manager for the General Conference Ministerial Association.

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