It began here, for me anyway, a tiny little church in Lester, Iowa. On a good Sunday, there may have been 40 in attendance. I remember visiting at the invitation of friends, wondering what all the excitement could be about, and knowing that I had not felt that kind of excitement about anything, much less church, for a very long time. We visited one Sunday, most likely taking up the pew of a regular attendee, but no one minded that. We felt welcome, immediately loved and accepted and finally, we were at home. I cried much of the way through that service, listening to a heavenly choir of women's voices and thinking I would love to sing in that choir someday. I thought it was the most beautiful place and had the most beautiful music I had ever heard.
This past Sunday, we were blessed as lay speaker, Dan, told us about his journey to this church. He said their family had visited many churches and even stopped attending church for a while. At the prompting of their daughter, who wondered just when she would get to go to Sunday School, they decided to try the little white church just a few feet from their home. "The population that day went from 24 to 30" with the addition of their family. "We probably took up the pew of one of the regulars, but nobody cared." He said, "It wasn't about building a church. Our vision was never growth. It was...I found Jesus here. I found gold and I want to share. I found a morsel of real food among the rocks."
Before long, with the word spreading about this place of love and peace and acceptance, and invitations flying around the county, we outgrew that building. No longer would we have people sitting in the lobby or in the basement. The pulpet had even been removed to give us a little more room for chairs in front of the pews. There was no more room for expansion. We moved next door to the old furniture store, Ageson's Interiors, which once had been an elementary school. I have posted one photo of that building below. There was a grand gym with a balcony that became our sanctuary, and the showrooms and old classrooms became Sunday School rooms. To make enough room, some students continued to travel next door to that little white church for Sunday School, and the Gerbers held one class in their home. The word continued to spread. Plans were made for a new building. Land was secured, labor was donated...God blessed us with carpenters, masons, plumbers, electricians, painters, roofers, craftspeople of all sorts.
Shown below is our Methodist Church today.....Seeds of Faith Methodist Church in Lester. Pastor Don says often, "Who would have ever guessed this, in Lester, Iowa?"
It really is the story of the mustard seed. We started so small. A group of faithful women prayed for babies and families....and they came. The church was dying, nearly extinct and these women prayed and said, "Mountain, move!"
"And Jesus said unto them..."If you have faith as a grain of mustand seed, you shall say unto the mountain, "Move from here to here, and it shall move, and nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20
This is the cross at the first church. It has continually been the reason for all of this. He is the One who brought us here. He is the One who carried us from building to building. He is the One who kept us together through our growing pains. We have tried to live by the verses in Galatians 5:22-23..."But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control."
The cross at Seeds of Faith. We will do our best to abide by these fruits, to keep planting those seeds. He, in turn, will keep us together through the next stage. Growth means change. Change sometimes means conflict. Dan told us, "Seeds of Faith is on the radar. We are walking down the narrow road and people are watching how we will handle it. People have watched us grow and thrive. People know we are moving and shaking, and now people know we are in the midst of a great change in leadership. It is not about any one of us. It is not about any individual. We have to be a united front. We have to stay together and face this as one. Life changes. Life goes on. The old must become new. Whatever our numbers are, whatever they will be, we are one!" (Thanks, Dan!) May we never forget what brought us together, unconditional love, that which made me visit, that which made me stay, that which fills my heart with joy! John 13:35 says, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another." How wonderful to be known by your love! How wonderful to love and accept and care for others. How wonderful to have the promise that no matter what the path, no matter where the process leads us, He will carry us through! How very wonderful!!!!