Reaching the church itself, you notice that it is very well taken care of. The steeple is of white siding, likely having replaced the original white clapboard exterior that was weather-worn and no longer fully functional. The basic church building exterior, a natural wood covered look, is in fact new as well, made of a siding in sheets, not slats, and also insulated, likely doen at the same time as the steeple renovation. The church windows are new and of the insulated storm variety as was the front door, sturdy, thick and attractive and all of these things said that the more recent congregants all love the old church and want to save it for posterity. When you ask your friend about it, he surprises you by telling you that he attends the church himself and as you ask him more questions, the only thing he will add is that it was at one time a specific denomination but is now non-denomination and attracts a nice crowd who specifically seeks a Bible-centered church. When only a few years ago the denomination wanted to close the church for lack of financial strength, a group of locals stepped in, kept it alive and reorganized it, finally getting the large church body to accept their plan for independence. But he won't tell you anything more and you are left to ponder the specifics and the "what ifs."
You take time to take pictures, then the two of you go back to his cozy cabin, enjoying the renewal of friendship and the sharing of stories about what had transpired since your last time together. Before leaving a few days later, your gracious host asks if, after you get home and think about things, you will let him know what your experience at the church told you about it. You promise to write soon with a response, but first you want to do a little research and ponder what it all means. Once home, you begin a search on the internet and find the church, but there is not much about it except to say that the congregation was first formed in the mid-1840's and it has been nearly continually in service since then. From that, you search for information about churches in the general area and what has transpired since that time frame. When you get your results, you are amazed at the general information found and what it means to you and, with that in hand, you formulate your response.
Sitting down at the breakfast table two days later, you open you laptop and begin writing. You tell your friend that the beautiful rural church tells you that there is hope for the faithful and a future as long as there are people like the congregants of that little church. You tell him you found the church and it's age, and that in that time churches in that time went through great trials that test souls. It was in Indian territory, and many settlers died in skirmishes, not to mention the havoc created by outlaws who commandeered churches in the forest as hiding places, even on occasion killing the minister just for spite. Yet, despite such horrors, those little churches survived and they retained their mission of teaching the Bible as the Word of God even today, offering a place for those who put their faith in the Good Book to work. That such little churches can make a recovery from the more centralized and less Bible-centered organizations of today just prove that when good people come together to experience and share and spread the Good News of the Living God, that good things happen to them and they keep the faith alive. After re-reading your work several times you put it in the mail and call your friend, telling him that the letter is coming in the mail and to let you know what he thinks of your thought.
About a week later, he responds with a phone call and says, "You are right on the mark. That's exactly the way I feel and it's why I got active in not only helping to fix up the old church and make it a future landmark, but also why I attend it every Sunday. Nothing can be a viable substitute for the Word of God, nothing! The Word of God is always the foundation of the faith and we will all work to keep it so."
You thank him for his response, tell him the two of you will meet again soon and you invited him to come and visit you after the winter is over. As you hang up with abig smile on your face, you look upward and merely say, "Thanks be to God."
If you look around as you go about your life, you can find an event just like this to impact your life. It's all in what you look for and, indeed, Thanks be to God.