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Prayer & persistence enable church to get front & center

GALVA, Ill. (BP)–When Will Ferguson started Trinity Baptist Chapel seven years ago, his wife Jennifer was often the only one there to hear him preach.
“I just sort of pretended there were other people there,” she said. “I didn’t look at it as he was practicing or anything.”
She didn’t have to pretend for long. The tiny church in Galva, Ill., soon started growing, and in this town of 2,400 people northwest of Peoria it’s now very much front and center, literally — the church building is located on the corner of Front Street and Center Street.
Will Ferguson, who is partially supported by Illinois Baptists’ state missions offering, credits the church’s success to two things — prayer and persistence.
“I’ve found that when we get to praying, that’s when things start happening,” Ferguson said.
For instance, take the story of Jeff and Lorrie Woith. The Woiths had never attended the church, nor had they been visited by anyone in the church. Ferguson had never even met them. But, someone asked the church to add the Woith family to Trinity’s prayer list, so church members starting praying that God would work in their lives.
On the first Sunday they came to church at Trinity, they told Ferguson their names. He thought they sounded familiar, and checked the church’s prayer list to find their names written down.
Not long after that, the church’s prayers were answered. “Jeff got saved. His two children got saved. She was already saved, and I baptized them in a hog tank,” Ferguson said. “It was completely by prayer. It just blew my mind away.”
Or the story of Wayne and Linda Krieg comes to Ferguson’s mind. The Kriegs moved to Galva from Dexter, Mo., in 1989, and left their Southern Baptist church behind.
“I didn’t want to leave there when we left,” Linda said. “That was the hardest thing I had to do.”
Before they left, their pastor told them they would be missionaries in their new home, but Linda didn’t believe it. “I never, ever thought I would help start a church,” she said.
She and her husband, however, prayed regularly for God to start a Southern Baptist work in Galva.
When they saw the sign of Trinity Baptist Chapel, they decided to try it out. “We went up there, and all of a sudden, we’re in this role of helping Will and Jen starting this church,” Linda said. “We fell in love with [Trinity] and think it’s the neatest thing that’s ever happened.”
When the Kriegs joined the church, it doubled Trinity’s membership to four. Things picked up from there, and Trinity now averages about 40 people in morning worship. The church rents an old hospital building about two blocks away for Sunday school space and is hoping to be in a new building in about three years, Ferguson said.
Although most of the early ministry of the church was to children, Ferguson said church members now are trying to reach more adults. That’s where persistence comes into the equation.
Ferguson has a map of the entire town of Galva with all the homeowners identified. He’s highlighted the names of people he’s already visited, and his goal is to highlight the rest of them.
For Linda Krieg, that means the ministry of the church will only expand.
“You have to let people know that you care,” she said. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. It’s a caring church. You can feel it when you walk in.”
Another key element to Trinity’s success, Ferguson said, is the people’s familiarity with change.
“I make it a point to change things every once in a while,” he said. “You’ve got to get people used to change. You’ve got to get them expecting it, because growth is change. You’re in a constant state of change.”

    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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