A Lady Walks Into a Bar...
By Tom Jones
Wait…that didn’t come out exactly right. Maybe you need an explanation. One day, an unsaved lady walked into a building that many years ago was a bar and nightclub. Today, that building is Keystone Free Will Baptist Church in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The building was purchased in 2009 and has undergone major renovation. You would never know today what it had once been.
The interesting part is how this lady came to be in this building in the first place. A few years earlier, her son Bill and his family moved from the Greensburg, Pennsylvania, area to Virginia for his job. They bought a home just down the street from a funeral home…well, what had been a funeral home. Today, that building is CrossPointe FWB Church where David Sexton pastors.
David and his family, my wife Pam and myself, and our daughter Jenna and her husband Nate partnered with North American Ministries in 2007 to plant churches in our respective cities. The Sextons went to Suffolk, Virginia, and we came to Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The two churches are about 400 miles apart. Little did we know at the time how God would link these two buildings—a former bar and a former funeral home.
After moving to Suffolk, Bill, Tracy, and their children began walking down the street to attend CrossPointe Church. With Catholic upbringing, needless to say, attending a Free Will Baptist church was radically different. After attending a few times, the family gave their hearts to Jesus.
Tracy and the children attended services at Keystone once while here visiting family. Then, after traveling home as a family for Christmas in 2014, Bill invited his mom Shelly to attend Keystone, which she agreed to do. She walked in—very timid, out of place, and uncomfortable. We tried our best to make her feel welcome, but we didn’t see her for another year.
When Bill and Tracy returned to the Greensburg area for Christmas in 2015, they attended another service with us and brought Shelly again. This time, she seemed a little more comfortable and indicated she would like to come back. She began attending by herself, and when the invitation was given during her second visit alone, Shelly stepped out, came forward, and gave her heart to Jesus. She is now one of our most faithful members.
A few weeks ago she came to church with her face broken out due to a reaction from a medical cream the doctor had given to her. She wore a protective mask like those worn in hospital rooms and sat on the back row…but she was there. If anyone had a viable excuse to stay home that day, Shelly did. When I asked her if she was okay, she told me she did not want to miss the service. I can’t tell you how encouraged I was by her dedication.
Today, God has created a link between the buildings that once housed a bar and a funeral home. He is now using both locations to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. From a building where people once went to destroy their lives to a place of the dead, new life is being provided. Families are being healed and brought back together.
These churches are meeting in unconventional locations, but they provide a beautiful picture of God’s redemption and the new life that comes with it.
About the writer: Rev. Tommy Jones, his wife, Pam, and daughter and son-in-law (Nate and Jenna Altom) are planting Keystone FWB Church in Greensburg, Pennyslvania. Learn more: www.fwbnam.com.