BLANCHARD—Although attendance has been reaching 100 or more for the last month, no one really knew what God was about to do in this little country church located halfway between Blanchard and Alex on St. Hwy. 39. A message from Heaven was about to be sent to the people of this small church that would literally shock the 111 present that morning.
When Blanchard, New Beginnings began its first verse of invitation, a line of families and individuals formed up the middle aisle to join the church. Along with those families were some who had made professions of faith in recent weeks who were making decisions to follow the Lord in baptism. All in all, decisions of salvation, baptism, joining by letter and by statement filled the altar, with 29 additions to the church, and 34 total decisions.
As members were going through the welcome line to celebrate the decisions made that morning, Pastor Michael Sturgell said a first-time visitor stopped him in the middle of the sanctuary as he was making his way back to the door to shake hands. She said God had told her to make “that cross” as she pointed to the back of the sanctuary and bring it to the church and give it to New Beginnings “this week, not next week,” she said.
Overwhelmed by her timely story, along with seeing all that God had just done, the pastor recognized that God was sending the church a confirmation of this historic day and to move forward with the message of the gift of the cross. The pastor went to the back and picked up the cross—that is about three feet tall—and held it up high so everyone could see it as he was walking down the middle of the aisle and informed the congregation what the first-time visitor told him. The congregation erupted in a cheer that sounded much like at a ballgame when the team behind scores the winning points.
The people understood the cross was a timely gift from God to the church for what He was doing, and preparing to do, through its ministry. The pastor stated, “There’s no way the first-time visitor could have known what God was going to do on that particular day. She was truly sent by God!”
Later, they noticed on her visitor card on the line, “You’re a guest of,” she had written, “God.”
Little did anyone know, however, that the excitement of the day was far from being over. That evening, the church met at a local pond just up the road and baptized 19. Afterwards, the people met back at the church for food and fellowship. Moments later, a two-car accident happened on the highway in front of the church, scattering debris all over the highway and in the church’s front parking lot. Members and new members quickly ministered to the injured inside and outside the two totaled vehicles.
The pastor stated that when he first opened the front door of the church to see what happened, he saw members all over the parking lot and highway ministering to those hurt in the accident, including a young boy who was lying on the church’s front lawn gasping for air beside a totaled red pickup. The pickup came to a stop only about 40 feet from—and pointed in the direction of—the children’s play area, where children were playing. Groups formed holding hands at each of the two cars praying for the injured and for members who were ministering to them.
The pastor said he was so proud of how well the church responded to the accident. He had just preached a sermon that morning on one of the five purposes of the church—ministry.
“This was real life, hands-on ministry” he stated, “and the members were the hands and feet of Jesus.”
The church cancelled its service to minister to the need of that hour by performing ministries of prayer, comfort, physical needs, evangelism, and encouragement to all six who were involved. The injuries included broken ribs, a bruised lung, a broken shoulder, chipped vertebrae, facial lacerations, blurred vision and a cracked skull of a 3-year-old girl. All are expected to recover!
Another unique aspect to this story is that although there were vehicle parts and debris strewn across the highway, ditches and church parking lot, the totaled red truck had a Bible lying on the dash—undamaged! A member of the church’s youth group told the pastor he overheard a man on the phone who had stopped at the accident telling about the story of the unaffected Bible on his cell phone.
“Through both the great moments and the devastation of the day, God was truly glorified in so many different ways and different lives,” Sturgell said.
As the last emergency vehicle left the scene, a peaceful calm blanketed the front lawn as members shared of the amazing God-moments of an unforgettable day—all while gazing upon the full lunar eclipse. One member said, “It was like God was looking down upon us, winking His eye, saying, ‘Atta’ boy New Beginnings!’”