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Chapter 36. The Downspout In A Bucket Church

June 22, 2010

The Downspout In A Bucket Church

Eleven people sat quietly in the dank, poorly lit basement room. There was enough seating for about 30 people, but no one could remember it being full.

It had a bit of an odor too. The bare concrete block walls were unpainted and unprotected light bulbs hung from the ceiling by two bare strands of wire. The benches appeared to have not been professionally constructed and the flooring was unpainted concrete slab. There were no windows in the room either.

This room took up less than one-fourth of the unfinished church basement area. The upstairs, where the main sanctuary was to be, was not completed. Actually, there had never been enough money to even get it started.

Work had stopped on the building many years ago. About 4 or 5 rows high of concrete blocks were all that had been laid for the walls and they sadly showed where the work had stopped.

There was no roof. The unprotected flooring was exposed to the elements and left the basement completely at the mercies of what Mother Nature decided to do for the day.

When it rained or when the snow melted, most of the water seemed to just sit in puddles on the flat floor that served as a roof and also as a ceiling for the basement. The basement had leaks everywhere.

It was not advisable to even walk through the other parts of the basement in the rainy season. Only the small area where the services were held had even basic protection overhead from the elements.

The blueprints showed a beautiful church building on this location that would seat several hundred people. Up to now, only the pastor had that vision and no one had any money. All of the saints were poor, they were very poor.

The pastor’s wife was a saint. She sweetly did whatever she could to help make ends meet. There was never enough money coming in from the church to support them, so the burden of being a foster parent in her later years was added to her duties. She played the organ, worked in the garden out back, and kept the old two-story house looking pretty. Every preacher’s wife loved her. She was working and worrying herself into an early grave.

The pastor had grandiose ideas and plans for the church.  He would spread out stacks of blueprints to every visitor that came into his home. He was very likeable and personable, but his gifts of envisioning and dreaming never put a lot on bread and butter on the table. There was never enough money to go around.

He had come from a big church as a young saint. Before he pastored he had even been on the trustee staff in another big church in another state.

Somehow, nothing was coming together for him here. The city was big enough to support several churches. Others seemed to be able to grow here, but he somehow just struggled. In the 25 years or so of being here he couldn’t get passed the feeling he was just spinning his wheels.

The sad-looking building was nearly an eyesore to some in the neighborhood. The neighbors no longer spoke kindly to the pastor who lived next door. Behind his back they made comments. Petitions had been circulated. Inspectors had come.

The cold winters always ate up most of the church budget just for heating. There was minimal insulation at this point.

But the pastor and small flock were faithful.

No one had ever shouted in this church the whole time he had been there. Joy was not a word that was often heard in a testimony service. Victory was just a word in the dictionary. The services were not exciting. Visitors seldom ever came. If they did, more often than not, they rarely came back.

A lady in the church watched the foster children for the pastor’s wife while she played the organ. The pastor’s children were grown and had already moved away.

No new choruses ever made it into their worship here. The worn songbooks had always served wonderfully for 25 years and always would.

Tonight was a special service, however. A guest minister was going to preach. (There was never enough money to invite special speakers. This one had already said he wasn’t going to take an offering.) The people were very excited he had come.

It was raining very hard outside and the stairwell that led into the basement’s side door entrance was gathering a fair amount of water. Some of the water began to stream into the small auditorium. No one seemed overly bothered. This had happened before and was taken in stride.

The song service and testimonies had gone well. It was now time for the guest preacher to be introduced.

He stood and came to the small pulpit and made his opening remarks. As he talked he could hear the fast drip-drip-drip-drip of water into the 5-gallon bucket in the middle of the small aisle. It sat at the base of a metal post that ran from the ceiling to the floor.

Fastened to the post was a downspout that emptied the water into the 5-gallon bucket. The bucket filled up several times during every service when it rained. Replacement buckets were always handy.

The downspout was connected to a 10 ft. piece of gutter that hung down about a foot from the ceiling. Someone had used old coat hangers to wire it into place. It had been strategically located to catch to largest amount of drips in the sanctuary area, and it did.

Despite the resounding drip-drip-drip-drip-drip, the anointing came and the preacher preached great! The saints all gathered around the front for the altar call and ignored the dripping of the water into the bucket. God’s will was once again accomplished despite the distractions.

This Too Is Home Missions!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Randy Stanton permalink
    June 22, 2010 3:31 pm

    Brother Ballestero, once again you captured my thoughts and carried me away to another place and time. Thanks!!!

    Bro Randy Stanton

  2. Brent Crosswhite permalink
    July 3, 2010 10:23 am

    Bro. Ballestero, Your writtings are tapping people into treasures that many have never experienced. There are plenty who feel like it has to happen in a big, beautiful building. Thank God for the host of men and women who has dedicated themselves for the sake of the gospel to plant a Church. Many will open a church and take saints from across town and call it “Growth.” This is not growth but swelling! When something is unethically grown or swollen, its greatest danger is a “God given” alka seltzer. After it is done, all one has is just a belch and the memory!

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