Don Hooker Pastor Serenity Baptist Church, West Chester, Ohio
Proverbs 29:18 – “Where there is no vision, the people perish”
In 2003, Serenity Baptist stepped out in faith to buy the 4.5 acres on Cox Road as we had outgrown the 3 rd Street property. Next to our newly purchased property was 10+ acres for sale. I noticed if we did not make that next parcel part of our campus, we would be landlocked. All other sides of our property are streets. So, in the back of my mind, prayer list, and mental vision board, plans started developing in my head. In 2006, I saw my dream come crashing down as another church purchased the property. I said, “Lord, you know what we need, and I know that You will still give us this property for Your glory.” I was not sure how it would happen, but I had faith that my dream was not dead.
In 2012, the USPS delivered a letter that revived the dream of Serenity, that we were going to expand as the Lord allowed us to purchase the 5.65 acres we needed for well below the value of the land. My dream was on “go” again.
By September 2018, after planning meetings, fund raising, and the people excited about the future, we had the official groundbreaking for our new facilities. With plans to start building in February 2019, we were starting to see our dream come to fruition.
Then another obstacle popped “down”—7.23 inches of rain in one month. The rainfall of 2019 was 33.15 inches, making digging a foundation nearly impossible. It would have become a swimming pool. We did get some dry months, so we started digging and preparing the land for building. Then when my wife ended up in the hospital for 40 days and nearly losing her, I was starting to see a few cracks in my dream.
2020 came, and we were putting up the steel, the sides, the roof…then Covid-19 hit. We lost almost ALL the volunteer help from churches in Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio. It looked like we were about to put this project on hold once more.
I prayed, I begged God, I dug into His Word. God said, “Move forward! I will supply your needs.” The cost was above our budget, but God gave us large offerings even with the shutdown. We needed specialized equipment that we had not planned on, but God touched the hearts of vendors to lower prices and sometimes donate the items. We were seeing a possibility of another shutdown in our state, but God led our leaders in Columbus to write a bill that churches could not be closed.
On the Saturday night before our dedication service, I walked through the building gazing in amazement and awe at how God had made our dream come true. September 13, 2020 will always be a special day in my heart. Seeing the auditorium full and worshipping Christ together, our joy was overwhelming. As we ended the service, many of our members came together, joining hands and standing at the altar. We wanted to make sure our hearts and lives were dedicated to Christ before we dedicated this miracle building. During the past 17 years, I felt much like Joseph as he was beaten, sold, wrongly accused, forsaken, and betrayed by his own. But then God used all these difficulties, not only to help him save those in Egypt, but also the ones who hurt him the most. I can look back and see the hand of Almighty God moving people, lands, money, workers, and His church to move forward for His Glory.