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New building for New Life buoys outreach in Iowa town

KINGSLEY, Iowa (BP)–There’s new life in Kingsley, Iowa — New Life Baptist Church, which moved into its first building during the summer with help from Mississippi and Arkansas Baptist volunteers.

Volunteer builders from Pulaski Baptist Association in Little Rock, Ark., and Pearl River Baptist Association in New Augusta, Miss., came to the western Iowa town to erect the building, starting in May, while the congregation continued meeting in a mobile chapel owned by the Baptist Convention of Iowa.

Teams came in cycles for three months. A team of youth from the World Changers project in Sioux City also helped with some of the later finishing projects. Volunteers stayed in some in the homes of New Life members, others in mobile homes or local motels.

God’s blessing marked the undertaking — and his hand of protection. At one point, a volunteer from Mississippi was operating a tractor with a front-end loader full of sand. The weight of the sand overturned the tractor, trapping the man under the machinery. Other volunteers nearby rushed to his aid and were able to quickly lift the tractor with hydraulic jacks. Emergency rescue workers summoned the LifeFlight helicopter from Sioux City Mercy Hospital, which landed in a nearby hayfield. The man suffered broken ribs and internal injuries, but was able to recover in a few weeks and return to the project site.

Another volunteer worker suffered chest pains during the project but recovered after being hospitalized and treated for a heart condition.

In addition to the construction effort, Backyard Bible clubs and youth rallies were conducted by some of the members of the mission teams in Kingsley and in nearby Pierson, with professions of faith recorded by 16 children and youth.

The church-planting effort in Kingsley started in 1997 when Les Stevens, a deacon of the nearby Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City sensed a call to the ministry and began preaching in the northwest Iowa area.

He asked his pastor, Leo Endel, if there had ever been any thought given to starting a church in Kingsley. They agreed to pray about the matter.

Just a week later, Endel was shaking hands at the door of Southern Hills’ sanctuary with a lady from Kingsley who had driven into Sioux City for worship. “You need to start a church in Kingsley,” she told the pastor. That was all Endel and Stevens needed to set in motion a plan for a mission congregation in Kingsley.

The only question Southern Hills’ missions committee had for the two church-planting ministers was, “Where will we get the money?”

A few weeks later, Perkinston Baptist Church in Perkinston, Miss., responded to a missions need they had heard about at an On Mission Celebration a few weeks earlier where the Northwest Iowa Baptist Association’s then-associational missionary, Mark Elliott, had spoken of the needs for planting churches in Iowa.

The phone rang in Leo Endel’s office on a Sunday evening. “Brother Leo, you don’t need some money to help one of your mission churches buy a building or some property, do you?” the caller asked. Endel had just visited in Kingsley a few days earlier to look into the cost of buying a closed church building. Perkinston Baptist Church offered $30,000 to the new congregation to help buy property where a church building could be erected.

With this boost in support, the Kingsley mission church began to rally in attendance and enthusiasm, with 30 to 40 people soon worshiping in the local high school building.

When church-planting deacon Les Stevens moved to Minnesota for a job change, current pastor Cecil Dale moved to Kingsley in 1999 from Omaha, Neb., and the congregation soon began using the Baptist Convention of Iowa mobile chapel.

“As I look around each day at the new building we now have,” Dale reflected, “I recognize the fact that it is just impossible for this small congregation to be able to build such a wonderful facility all by themselves. It is literally humanly impossible.

“But we have a big God! It is he who deserves the credit,” Dale continued. “He has worked through Southern Baptists across the nation, and especially through our Mississippi and Arkansas partners. We are truly blessed.

“As the building has gone up, so has our acceptance within the community. We look with great expectation to a future of life-changing ministry in Kingsley and around the world.”

The church celebrated the accomplishments of the summer and their four years of ministry in Kingsley with a celebration on Sunday, Oct. 7. Ross Harmonson, interim associational missionary for Northwest and Southwest Baptist Associations, was in attendance in behalf of the Iowa convention at the afternoon worship and fellowship time.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: NEW LIFE AT NEW HOME.

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  • Richard Nations