It started with a funeral.
In early November, one of our dear members of Calvary went home to be with the Lord after fighting a battle with cancer. Her fight was long, God-honoring, and faith-filled. Her family held her memorial service in our auditorium. Because of her husband's very prominent, public career, we lived-streamed her service. It was the first time we had ever live-streamed anything before.
We were awestruck when right around 47,000 people logged on to our site to see her service either live or recorded. The gospel was clearly and poignantly shared. For the next few weeks, we heard of hundreds and hundreds of people around the country saying, "I accepted Jesus that day." If our numbers extrapolate out correctly, the indication is that more people got saved at the memorial service than did on the Day of Pentecost. It was probably in the thousands.
That was the last normal week we had at Calvary.
In a matter of days, we began to see the crumbling of a beloved member of our pastoral staff. You probably know all about the end result of that. The media was kind enough to report only the facts as given to them by the police and by us. But social media opened its jaws and devoured us. We felt the fury of hell lashing out, attempting to cause confusion, accuse falsely, and bring division. Like Jesus instructed, we didn't retaliate (Matthew 5:11; Matthew 5:39). It was hard.
Finally there was no fuel left for that fire, and the story died down.
We took a deep breath and thanked the Lord for His protection of His body through that storm. We felt encouraged that God had brought our congregation together in love and unity in a way we've never seen before here. God was the Victor again! We were able to rejoice even through our profound sadness.
Then the roof caved in.
We had barely caught our breath when it appeared that hell had again unleashed on us. This time it was the building. Late Saturday night, Pastor Lee found a waterfall coming down over the balcony from the broken pipes... from the enormous hole in the roof. The snow was heavier than the structure could bear. In addition to the roof hole, most of the building was badly flooded.
So we wondered... How would we ever get through this one?
If we had written a script, we couldn't have come up with a story like this one. It's something only God could do.
You see, back in the fall, we felt led to really concentrate on the word "connect" with our church family. The horrible situation with the former Pastor of Leadership Development brought us together in a way that totally answered that calling and prayer. We connected in the deepest and most meaningful of ways. God took what was meant for evil and used it for good in many people's lives.
Heading into winter, we felt like we needed to change that focus to feature the word "invite." It was as if God said, "Let Me just take care of that one for you. Sit back and watch."
Local and national news coverage has been astounding.
As we write this blog Tuesday evening, Pastor Lee continues to be contacted for interviews. ABC, NBC, CBS, Good Morning America, and The Weather Channel are just a few of the news outlets who picked the story up. In some instances, Pastor was able to share why we are all full of joy as we walk through this trial: Because Jesus is the one we focus on. Not the building. The media has been so generous in their coverage. Our very own "Daily Local" newspaper shared quotes from our Facebook page and from Pastor Lee personally that lifted Jesus' name up high. Downingtown heard the call to come to Jesus in order to find lasting joy.
Thousands watched the sermon Sunday live-streamed from Pastor's living room.
How do you invite people to go to church who don't have any interest in going to church? Use the roof disaster to get their attention, shut them in their houses with nothing else to do, and share the Word through the computer screen. Because we had figured out how to live-stream back in November, people who might never step foot in church heard the gospel on Sunday.
The coverage on Facebook has been astounding as well.
Our first post about the roof has reached 165,416 people. And that number continues to grow daily, along with thousands of others reached with subsequent posts. We continue to glorify God in this trial. (Only through Jesus!)
So...it looks like God did the inviting.
We're excited. In fact, the title of this blog is a direct quote from Pastor Lee when we asked him how he was feeling today. We're convinced that what's happening here is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. We're looking forward to this journey with you as we begin meeting in the gym this Sunday for services (same times-- 9:30 + 11AM). Even though God invited more people than any of us could, let's join Him in that effort! Bring someone with you!
Last, but not least...
There is one major concern hanging over our heads. The money we need to move forward is not there yet. Insurance will provide as we go along, of course. But because there was no offering taken last week (and prior weeks this month were very low), we're depleted. Our staff feels the weight and burden of trying to proceed without the necessary funds.
After reading what God has done so far, would you partner with us as we move forward in this story? Your obedience in giving back to the Lord will be blessed, and our staff will be the first to thank you for helping to relieve this heaviness that they presently carry.
Please visit our Giving Page and take part in this vital aspect of the ministry going forward.
Remember where to look for updates!
Our Facebook page is where we keep you the most up-to-date. You don't need to have a Facebook page to view it, either! Anyone can see it. Just log on to Facebook.com/cfdowningtown. If you like us, you'll see the updates more readily.
Thanks for being part of this incredible experience with us. These are the most exciting days yet, and there is no congregation in the whole world that we'd rather do it with than you. Be blessed, be strong, and be on the lookout for our great God. He is MOVING!!