In only 10 weeks, Canalou Assembly of God--a church averaging 70 people in weekly attendance--raised nearly $30,000 for building the outer structure of a new multipurpose facility.
The 40'x80' building in Canalou, Mo., will be used as a youth center with a stage, activity area, and additional classrooms, but the facility will also be used as a community food bank.
Mike Cartwright, senior pastor of Canalou A/G said that in a town of 319 people he had been asked why they would build this facility in a "dead town." But Cartwright said in reply, "Canalou may be dead, but God's not."
His optimism has translated to those living in the community. He said, "It has really generated a lot of excitement. People are excited about it that don't even go there."
Plans started in September 2002, when Cartwright shared the vision for the facility with his congregation. They held no special fundraisers for the project; it was fully funded by offerings taken until the Nov. 30 deadline. By Nov. 29, they held a celebration service for the $23,000 paid for the outer structure and concrete. The rest of the money raised went to pay off previous church debts.
According to Cartwright, the church experienced financial blessings after taking an offering of $1,000 to give to a missionary. The church gave this money to Carol Dill, who was raising money to build a convention center for his ministry in Africa.
"After that money just started coming in." One woman felt led to give $1,000 as he was preaching, but she told Cartwright that because she was out of work she was broke that Sunday. By Tuesday, this traveling nurse came back with tears in her eyes and said, "God blessed me." Then she wrote out a check for $1,000 to put toward the building fund. "It's been like that all along," Cartwright said.
He said that most of the money came in by $1,000 or $2,000 at a time.
Building started the same weekend as the deadline, and area congregations volunteered the manpower to get the project going. With men from Cartwright's church, along with several others from First Assembly in Sikeston (Terry Bryant, pastor) and Harvest Assembly in Essex (Mike Brown, pastor), the outer structure was completed in one weekend. Altogether, over 20 men assisted in this first step of construction.
Cartwright said that the only challenge hindering these volunteers has been the winter weather. Despite the cold winds these workers have continued "wading in the mud while working," he said.
Cartwright said that all the men should be commended for helping with the project. He also said that their involvement had spawned other blessings. For example, Harvest Assembly had seen several people saved in each service since their involvement in the building project.
Cartwright's wife, Joanne, said, "We wanted a soul for every nail driven."
Although the project is not fully completed, Cartwright believes that the rest of the money will come in faster than it had before. He estimated that they will need about $30,000 to finish the inside.
By Lora Phipps