About 60 people fit comfortably there; but as Sunday morning worship attendance grew to 120, the congregation agreed it was time to build a larger sanctuary and started raising money for the task.
A year later, a Southern Baptist on vacation stopped by the Bayfield, Colo., church for Sunday morning worship. And while returning home to North Carolina, the visitor recruited volunteers to help construct a new building for the church. The money that had been raised turned into concrete, lumber, windows and roof trusses, but essentials such as plumbing, electrical supplies, drywall and furnishings were still needed.
First Baptist needed $250,000 more, Ash said. Questioning whether paying interest on a loan was the best use of God's resources, the congregation considered selling land it had acquired nine years earlier for the very purpose of relocating the church.
A buyer was willing to pay what the church had paid for the land, but some members thought the church was also entitled to the equity that had accrued over the nine years.
"I knew about equity," Ash said. "Literally overnight we lost the equity in our house in California. … So I had a prime example to share with the church about the entitlement mentality about equity.
"I knew we needed to trust God to meet our needs, rather than to trust in worldly equity," he said. He encouraged the congregation to trust God.
In the meantime, a woman named Grace called the church.
"What's going on?" she asked.
Ash described the construction project, the need for more money to finish it, and the offer that had been made on the other property and that it was awaiting a vote at the next day's business meeting. Grace made a remarkable offer.
"We'd like to buy it back," Grace, whose family had previously sold the property to the church, said. "We'll give you $100,000 more than you paid for it."
"It was a revival breakthrough in the church, and we got it through Grace," Ash said.
In its new building and debt-free, First Baptist is able to give nearly 20 percent of undesignated offerings to various mission causes.
"We understand that God is our resource, and that He uses us to be His resource," Ash said. "The greatest miracle most Christians miss is that God still gets His work done in spite of us, through us. We give all the glory to God."
Karen L. Willoughby is a national correspondent for Baptist Press. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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