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Cover 31


April-May 2010

Moved by Compassion: A Heart for World Missions



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History of
Free Will Baptists


Altar in the Attic


Sometimes pastors just need to listen to laymen!


The Altar in the Attic

by Mark Thomas


Thank the Lord for laymen! Many of them listen to sermons from pastors several times a week. Sometimes, however, the Lord wants pastors to listen to the laymen. God used a layman (and time) to help me understand this better.

In 1997, the project to build a church addition in Greeley, Colorado, was nearing completion. The time had come to install the carpet and occupy the addition. The whole church family was excited to get into the new building. God had supplied in amazing ways on the pay-as-you go project. It was almost complete, and it was debt-free!

Before the construction project started, the Lord raised up many people in the church to help with the building. One man donated the land and contributed the funds to “dry in” the building. A general contractor in the church drew the plans and did the framing. The church family gave sacrificially to the building fund. It was amazing to see how God used all kinds of people to do His work.

One special man the Lord sent to help was Ron Smith, a partially disabled drywall finisher recovering from shoulder surgery. Over the years, he has volunteered his services for every Free Will Baptist church construction project in Colorado and Wyoming. In spite of great pain, he installed the drywall and finished it beautifully.

Ron is an amazing individual with a diverse background. He is also one of the best adult Sunday School teachers I have ever heard. After the drywall was done, Ron started building bookshelves for the pastor’s office.

Before long, the trim carpenters were done, the tile was laid, and the carpet installers were ready to put on the finishing touches. However, Ron felt impressed to build a light pulpit and some portable altars. The church already had a beautiful pulpit and altars, and building another set seemed unnecessary.

I tried my best to talk Ron out of building them to immediately clear out for the carpet layers. He insisted on building the pulpit and altars. He said, “If the Greeley church doesn’t need them, some other mission church will some day.” He built the pulpit and altars, and the carpet installation had to wait.

At the time, I thought he should have listened to me as his pastor. What I did not realize was that God had placed in Ron’s heart a conviction to build that church furniture. We ended up storing Ron’s pulpit and altars in the Greeley church attic for 10 years! Many times, I thought how crazy it was for Ron to build them. The truth is God had called him to do it.

When the Lord called me to start a church in Pueblo, Colorado, the pulpit and altars were brought down out of the attic. Now, I preach behind them every Sunday at the new Free Will Baptist Church.

On the day of our grand opening, a lady knelt at one of the altars Ron built. As she prayed, I recalled the day I did my best to talk Ron out of building that church furniture. I am so thankful Ron listened to the Lord instead of me that day. Sometimes, pastors need to listen to laymen!


About the Writer: Veteran Home Missionary Mark Thomas is planting a church in Pueblo, CO. To learn more about his and other home missions churches across North America, visit



©2010 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists