Valdese is the location of the largest U.S. settlement of Waldensians in 1893. The members of Great Hope, a small new church plant in Valdese, N.C., scheduled prophecy seminars during March 2018, with Haskell Williams, ministerial director for the Carolina Conference. In preparation for the seminars, a room was rented in the American Legion Hall, but the Great Hope group had no idea what was ahead. With much prayer, the “soil had been tilled” by holding two series of reversing diabetes classes, distributing many Bible studies, and hosting a booth at the Waldensian Festival. Ten thousand brochures were mailed in Valdese and the surrounding area. On the opening night of the prophecy seminars, the Great Hope group welcomed 21 guests, twice the usual ratio for the number of brochures mailed. Some of these guests were already taking Bible studies, and some were from the reversing diabetes classes.
When the group rented the downstairs room at the American Legion Hall, they were told there would be an event above them on the second night. However, no one mentioned the practice for the previous evening that would take place on the first night. The noise was very loud and distracting both nights, but on the second night, the parking lot was so full there were no parking spots left for the leaders who had arrrived early, much less for the guests who would come later. Prayers ascended quickly: “God, there’s not a thing we can do! It’s Your problem, and You will need to work a miracle!”
God showed up! When opening time came on night two, not a guest was missing. They parked out in the field and hiked to the seminar with no complaints. Some attendees mentioned later that the information presented was so interesting that they just tuned out the noise and focused on the speaker. The organizers recogized that God works even when individuals think a situation is a total disaster.
The American Legion folks were extremely apologetic for the inconvenience, and decided not to charge the group for the two nights. They also allowed the group to move to the larger, more convenient room on the upper ground level for the same low price of the smaller room originally rented.
One attendee, John*, missed the first night but attended the second night and for the rest of the meetings. However, he did not live in the area the brochures had been mailed. He saw the brochure in one of the homes he visited during his service calls as a plumber, and he decided to attend. The following week, on another service call, he invited the woman of the house to attend that night’s meeting only an hour before it was to begin. She happily attended many of the seminars. Even when a brochure is not mailed to the home of a truth seeker, God can handle it.
Another attendee, Mary, had initially responded to a Bible request card she received in the mail. A member of the Great Hope group tried to locate her but was unsuccessful. Mary was shopping in Walmart one day, and said something to the clerk about wanting to worship on Sabbath. The clerk happened to be Seventh-day Adventist, and told Mary where the little, relatively unknown Great Hope group met in Valdese, close to her home. Mary showed up to worship with the group and attended the prophecy seminars, even helping to distribute literature. She was warmly welcomed into church fellowship. Michelle is another attendee who is taking Bible studies and searching for truth. A church member named Myra invited her to come to the prophecy seminars. Michelle shared, “At first I came with Myra just to make her happy, but now I come because I want to hear truth.”
The group witnessed God working on hearts. Twelve individuals attended through the end of the seminars, and four have joined the church, with others soon to follow in their footsteps. The Great Hope Church plant has seen God work in many ways, far beyond their feeble attempts. Once, when thanked for her work with Bible studies and transportation, Myra’s God-filled response was, “That’s why I’m here!” It is surely rewarding and exciting to work alongside God.
*First names used to protect privacy.
Carolina | June 2018