CALIFORNIA, Mo. — “It’s a new journey…. The journey is not over, but is just beginning,” Pastor Ken Chapman declared as members, volunteers and guests packed Flag Spring Baptist Church’s new sanctuary.
Located near California, Mo., Flag Spring Baptist caught fire late night Nov. 19 and early morning Nov. 20, 2012. The building and all contents were destroyed.
Less than a year later, on Nov. 17, members and guests celebrated completion of their new building. The congregation began using the facility Oct. 20, baptizing a convert that day and two more the following Sunday.
“Why are we so amazed at the work of God?” Chapman asked.
The pastor shared how God had had a hand throughout his life. He had “God-fearing” parents for whom not attending church “was not an option” as Chapman grew up. The family moved to Jefferson City and joined First Baptist Church, where Greg Morrow, now pastor of First Baptist Church in California, was minister of youth.
Chapman’s seventh grade drama teacher, Eleanor Terry, pulled him aside one day to tell him he would become a pastor. While a freshman at the University of Missouri, Chapman received a letter from Terry, suggesting he should transfer to William Jewell College. That same day, the house in which he was living burned. Then he received the first of a new scholarship Bonnie Davis had established in her husband Kenneth’s memory.
Although he had seen God at work in his life, Chapman admitted his first response to the 5:30 a.m. call about the fire was to tell the Lord that he didn’t know what to do. “I remember feeling desperate,” he told listeners.
Then Morrow called, offering the Flag Spring congregation use of rooms at First Baptist in California.
Several Flag Spring leaders met Chapman at the still smoldering remnants. When their pastor asked if they should close the doors, they responded they wanted to rebuild.
“That’s what I wanted to hear because we’re all in it together,” Chapman said.
Using 1 Corinthians 12:12-20, he pointed out that the church works together as the body. “That’s what’s in this room today,” he said.
He asked who is good at working with wood, who is good with a saw, who can play an instrument, who can sing, who has the ability to teach.
“We all have different gifts, different talents, different abilities…. We need to bring those gifts together to benefit the church,” Chapman said.
“This is just the beginning of what the body of Christ is to do…. Now we get to join together to do more things,” he said.
The Flag Spring congregation utilized the facilities at First Baptist, California, for 47 weeks. “That’s not a testimony to anyone other than God,” Chapman said. “Get ready, Flag Spring, because we’re going to do something for God.”
Everyone present had been given a jigsaw puzzle piece as each arrived. Chapman reminded attendees that each of them is like the puzzle, that as part of the body, they each go together.
“You are a piece of a bigger kingdom work God wants to do,” he said.