Our contact with the Power Company went well; they graciously extended us time to get our act and finances together. Washburn Trust held the mortgage on the farmhouse. I nervously and humbly went to the bank and met Albert Hobbs and Glenn Carson. My meeting with these two men was a ray of hope. They treated me with tremendous respect and kindness. They were familiar with the church and knew about our struggle for survival. As I remember the conversation, they put no pressure on me and assured me that they were confident New Life would get on its feet.
At that moment, they were more confident than I was.
Our first Sunday was. . . interesting. We had a piano, but no piano player. We had 13 people, a pot of coffee and 36 donuts. Josh ate 3 of them (the mystery lady did not show up, but we were prepared). Four of the attendees that Sunday were the Shoreys!
I worried and prayed over my first message. As it turned out, I preached from Acts 17. Our house church was literally surrounded by potato fields. So, I preached a sermon I titled The Tater Family.
In Acts 17, I found 3 Taters:
IrriTaters, Those who mocked(32),
HesiTaters, Those who would hear Paul another time (32b), and
ImiTaters, Those who believed and followed Christ as Paul did (34).
It was a homiletical masterpiece! Wouldn't you agree? I gave the invitation and four people responded -- they got up and left!
I know what you're thinking, but it wasn't my family.
During the week, I made contact with some of the folks that had been previously connected with the church. I don't remember any of those conversations going very well; those I talked with seemed confused and angry. There was one who contacted me; she asked for a meeting. The way my other calls had gone, I was not filled with high expectations!
If Albert Hobbs and Glenn Carson were rays of hope, Paula was a blinding light. We sat around the kitchen table with cups of coffee. Sandy and I listened as she shared her heart. She was very straight forward; her eyes were constantly rimmed with tears. Getting New Life off the ground had put one pastor in the hospital and another who knows where! Her desires were simple; she longed to see a church that would reach the lost and be passionate about the same things as Christ. She had wanted to quit, but couldn't. Paula was competent, clear thinking, and indescribably committed to Christ. Every word she spoke resonated with Sandy and me.
Paula reminded us of Phoebe in the New Testament.