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Chicago church’s massive fund-raising sparks praise

MARKHAM, Ill. (BP)–A massive fund-raising effort for a new building has members of Victory Christian Assembly in this Chicago suburb praising God for his provision and making an impact in their new community — they hope to baptize 700 people this year.

“God did it,” said pastor Carl White Jr. “That’s exactly what I told the church the day we moved in. ‘That’s the only explanation I have for it — it’s a miracle’.”

Victory Christian Assembly was organized in June 1987 with about 100 people, and met in a church building in Glenwood for about five years. From there the church moved to Harvey, where it rented space and stayed for another four years.

The church had planned to buy a permanent building in Chicago Heights, but those plans fell through. “Somebody bought it from under us,” White said. “It really hurt me. I had seen the vision. I had gotten architectural drawings. I had told the church. Me and God had to have a little wrestling match. I felt a little crushed.”

But White soon realized that God had other plans for Victory. “God had, in his own time, a place for us that he was preparing for us while he was preparing us for the place,” White said. “Now I know we never would have been able to manage the place that we were trying to get.

“It was a glass company that bought it from under us. Lo and behold, here in Markham where we are now, we bought a glass company.”

The church found the glass company building, but had to raise $90,000 in three months to buy it.

White “fixed it where they couldn’t show the building to anyone else,” then started asking church members to give.
“We did not have the money in November,” White said. “As of around the fifth of December, we only had $10,000 in our bank account.”

Shortly thereafter, White preached to about 900 people on a Wednesday night at Salem Baptist Church in Chicago. When he was finished preaching, the pastor told White the church was going to sow a seed offering of $5,000 to help Victory buy the building. Another lady at Salem promised White $2,000.

The next Sunday, “I told my church what had happened,” White said. “We raised, besides tithes and offerings, $6,000.”

White then started calling other pastors in the Chicago area to inform them of Victory’s need. He got a number of responses from them, in addition to his own church members. Two of his members are professional football players — Chris Calloway of the New York Giants and Derrick Walker of the Kansas City Chiefs — and they each gave $15,000.

White pointed out the need for Christians to testify about what God is doing. “As I began to testify, God began to open up the hearts of people,” White said. “If saints start testifying about the goodness of God and what God has done in their lives, it will open up other miracles to happen.”

By the Dec. 30 closing date, White had $76,000. He was in his car on the way to the closing when the chairman of the board of the bank called him on the car phone and asked if he had the money. White said he had $76,000, which was $20,000 short of the $96,000 he needed for the down payment and closing costs.

“I said, ‘Well, work it out. I’m on the way,'” White said. “The Holy Spirit just told me to tell him that. He said, ‘I’ll call you back’.”

About 10 minutes later, the chairman called back and told White the bank would loan the church the $20,000 needed to close the deal. Victory Christian Assembly worshipped in the new building for the first time Feb. 2.

But the church members aren’t content with enjoying their new building, which is being remodeled to accommodate a new sanctuary. The church, which averages about 300 in attendance, is reaching out to the Markham community in a major way, and hopes to baptize 700 people this year.

“This is the year of evangelism for our church. Everything’s outreach,” White said. White is asking church members to win one soul a month. So far this year, Victory has baptized more than 50 people.

“Hit the community,” White said. “We have people knocking on doors every day that we’ve been here.”

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth

    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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