The Grove was a vision brought together by God through His people and their willingness to be generous and kingdom-minded. Oak Grove Baptist Church helped give The Grove “roots” and a permanent place to call home. (See the article on page 1 of the April 28, 2021 issue.) This building had so much history and so many God moments — so many that one generation and one church body was not enough to contain the story of that place.
We were so blessed to have had the property for almost a year and a half. In that time, we opened a clothing/thrift store, selling clothing and household goods at affordable prices to help people. We also opened one of the largest “choice-based” self-sufficient pantries in the state. This pantry, staffed by over 20 volunteers each week, grew to serve over 200 families in the community, representing over 500 people each month. Shoppers were treated with dignity and respect as they shopped for items to meet the needs of their families.
The income purchased food for the pantry allowing us to remain unassociated with any governmental service. We also offered “cooking on a budget” classes, canning/preserving classes and gardening classes to help our community learn valuable tools to help stretch their budget and eat healthier. These past few months have been amazing! Conversations with shoppers, prayers and tears were shed as we truly got to know our community in a way we never knew we could.
My phone rang at 3:17 a.m. on Aug. 16 and a friend and volunteer firefighter told me the news. I rushed there and watched as fire departments from four different cities tried to save the building but, as the sun came up, it was clear the building was a total loss.
I watched as our volunteers ran to McDonald’s to grab breakfast and coffee for these exhausted men. At that moment, God reminded my saddened spirit that ministry isn’t a building, but the people of God surrendered to loving Him and others. Don’t get me wrong, it was so hard watching our church family drive up and weep. It was worse redirecting people driving in to get food as we were supposed to open at 9 a.m. that morning.
It’s been hard, but our church met Sunday, Aug. 21 and it was abundantly clear it’s not “will we rebuild?” but most definitely “when can we start?!” We were insured and we trust that God will provide in abundance to replace the building and make it bigger and better as it is built with our mission in mind.
We are about to share publicly that we have a new temporary location that will allow us to open as soon as next weekend. It will be at the Oak Grove Church of Christ (OGCC). Though so many groups, churches and businesses have contacted us to offer facility space, the OGCC seems to be the best fit. (The church is considering closing its doors and has offered us complete use of their building for the time being).
We are excited! We are committed! We are ready for this next journey at this sacred place covered in majestic oak trees. We claim the promised truth of Rom. 8:28! This fire is not the end but a new beginning. He is always working for our good and for His ultimate glory!