As a church, we know first hand what it is to have ordinary mixed with extraordinary when it comes to prayer being answered. Sometimes, however, we forget; other people have since joined the church who may not know the story of how we came to be in the building on Market Street. Here is a reminder of how God works in both ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary’ ways:
When we first got the keys to this building, we rejoiced in the miracle that God had worked. A church with just over £7000 in its bank account had taken possession of a building that cost over £160,000. How did that happen? Well, let’s not forget the practical, ‘ordinary’ means God chose to use: a grant from Coalfields Regeneration Trust, a gift from the local Methodist church. But we know in our hearts that those ‘ordinary’ means were not at all ordinary. God was involved in those things. How else did we get the grant after we had been forced to return it because we couldn’t spend it in the timescales required? When we look back with the benefit of hindsight, we see God’s hand at work in every situation and we see how the ordinary was combined with the extraordinary. Let’s never forget that the God who did that is just as able to do amazing things now. Let me remind you of what it was like, back in 2008 and 2009 and 2010:
The process of buying a new building is not always an easy one. First of all, there was the funding application. (Unless you’ve tackled one of these things, you really have no idea what a massive amount of work has to go in to this!) Then there was the question of putting in a bid to the Methodist Church – minimum price required £150,000. Even when the funding application was successful and there was money available to purchase the building (February 2009), things did not go smoothly, for there were other bidders whose offers seemed more attractive to the Methodist Church. With much disappointment, the CRT grant had to be returned to the funders at the end of March 2009, since it seemed that there was no chance of the church being allowed to purchase St Mark’s.
All we could do was wait… and pray! A prophetic word that we would see others overtake us initially but that the first winner would not be the final winner was very encouraging to us. The desire to own St Mark’s just wouldn’t go away, but we knew that there was nothing more we could do. Then, in July 2009, we were approached by the Methodists: the property developer’s deal appeared to have fallen through, and they asked if we were still interested. Still interested? Definitely! But being interested and having the money to do anything about it were two different things.
The chances of getting the money again from CRT seemed remote. Even when it seemed that there might be a chance to re-submit our application, we were sure this would only be the prelude to yet more masses of paperwork! But in the end, CRT allowed us to re-submit the application with only minor amendments, and by September 2009 we had been given the grant again!
We hoped to be in the new building by the end of the year… but even this was not to be. Every time we hoped to make progress, another stumbling block appeared. The property developer was still around, still offering more money. Legal wranglings and delays kept cropping up. Weeks would go by with no sign of any movement. October turned into November… November turned into December, and still nothing was happening. Again, a prophetic word reminding us that 2010 would be the ‘Jubilee’ for St Mark’s (since the building was built in 1960) encouraged us to think that 2010 would be the year when the dream would become a reality!
When we moved into the building – gathering on Saturday 13th February 2010 to begin that long process of refurbishment – we could say that God had worked the miraculous through ordinary people. And we can see that it is ever thus.
(If you want to know more about the long journey from Beever Street to Market Street, see the original church blog. It’s a story of faith and the tremendous workings of God that encourages us to continue being persistent and specific in prayer.)