2017 was a difficult year for me. From January onward, there were events that kept me asking, “Do I trust Him now?” The biggest change of the year, however, occurred at the end. In December my church held its last service.
(Sorry, but I had to pause a moment after writing that.)
Through the Lord’s design, it was my local church for seven years. A small band of believers, desiring to start a Reformed Baptist church, began meeting seven years ago. Two months after those believers started worshiping together, my family and I moved from New England to South Carolina. We attended the nearby Presbyterian church, not aware of any Reformed Baptist churches in the area. A member of that PCA church knew of the little work that band of believers had begun. Knowing they needed a pastor, and knowing my husband had ministry experience and Baptist convictions, this member put us in touch with that group. Thus the hand of Providence led us to Sovereign Grace Baptist Church.
Like so many other lone “1689r’s” out there wondering how to get a church started in their area, we did not have support from any outside organization. There were only three households to begin with. People came and went. Through the preaching of the word, our membership grew. Out-of-town visitors brought wonderful times of fellowship, and some members drove an hour to attend. We had no programs, no cool music, and our meeting place wasn’t the greatest – yet the Word was preached, the ordinances were performed, and church discipline was enacted. The Lord was glorified by the work.
This time last year I had no inkling that our church would even be considering dissolving. However, various Providences throughout 2017 indicated that by the end of the year it was time to do so. It was a bittersweet time for the little band that was left, as we now go our separate ways to join other churches. There is much uncertainty as to what 2018 has in store for my family. It still hurts me, as I see the need for such a work in this area. Yet the Lord is sovereign, and He will bring the increase in His time.
Reader, I don’t know what trials you might be going through. But I know my own, and despite the difficulty of waiting on the Lord, I know that He proves faithful. He has shown it to me through this past year. He has shown it in the the kind words of visitors. He has shown it in the hospitality of fellow Christians opening their home to a large family they barely know. He has shown it by pastors driving several hours to offer advice to a struggling pastor they’ve never met. Most importantly, He has shown it in the life and death of His Son.
So throughout all that 2018 brings, continue to look to Him. Seek to serve Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength this year. No obedience to God will prove worthless.
Jesus! what a help in sorrow!
While the billows o’er me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my comfort, helps my soul.
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!
Hallelujah, what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.
-J. Wilbur Chapman