Ebenezer: Hitherto Hath the Lord Helped Us! Samuel set up a memorial stone and called it Ebenezer, meaning stone of help. It was a way of acknowledging the Lord’s help up to this point. We, too, can raise our Ebenezer as we look back over the past 16 years since the beginning of Believers Bible Chapel in Pineville, North Carolina.
Nancy and I believe that our experience on the mission field in Central Africa prepared us to serve on the mission field of North America! There we learned that Discipleship is the heart of the Great Commission. It is also the greatest need in the overall testimony of the so-called assembly movement.
The Goal of Starting an Assembly
When we returned home from Africa we settled south of Charlotte and began a home Bible study every Friday night to teach the Word of God. Our area became one of the fastest growing zip code communities in the U.S. As we saw the growth around us we gained a burden to plant a New Testament Church. From our Bible study group the Lord raised up believers that joined us in the effort. After a few months of teaching NT principles of the church and much prayer, we determined with the Lord’s help, to take the first step.
We secured a meeting place —a conference room at the Hilton Garden Inn located just off the beltway and set a date for our first official gathering of Believers Bible Chapel. Then we went door to door throughout our neighborhoods and invited everyone we knew. We also purchased radio time on a secular radio station to air a Gospel message in brief and set up a website as a point of contact. On November 12, 2000, the Lord amazed us with a group of about sixty that met that first Lord’s Day and the rest is history —that is, His-story! By this I mean this is what the Bible teaches us to do as we serve Him.
In the early days of the Church, everywhere there was an inroad of the Gospel, a pocket of believers formed and an assembly was established. This continued through history as recorded in the Book of Acts and up to this point. We followed this example in Africa.
The Beginning of the New Work
Here at home brethren from two generations ago who came into the southern part of the U.S. also followed this same Biblical pattern. They had a heart to preach the Gospel and plant new assemblies. So we thought, why not today? Our desire was to reach out with the Gospel of Christ, make disciples, and establish an assembly according to the New Testament pattern.
Were there challenges? Oh yes. But, the joy of serving the Lord in fellowship with other believers far outweighed the difficulties we faced. Godly men that I knew in ministry prayed with us and for us. Their words of counsel and encouragement still echo in my heart.
We made it to our goal of starting the assembly, only to find it was the beginning of a lot more to do in order to establish the work. Our weeks were filled with visiting, discipling, and entertaining in our home. As for the ministry, I kept an emphasis of the Gospel on Sunday mornings while Nancy worked with the children in Sunday School. Sunday evenings were for teaching. We scheduled our midweek prayer meeting on Tuesday evenings and encouraged the men in the assembly to study and prepare a message to share before our prayer time. For many, this was their first opportunity to speak. We all were blessed. The Lord brought wonderful families to BBC who heard about the new work. They were such an encouragement —like the coming of Titus to Paul.
The Establishment of This Growing Work
At the end of the first year, we met as a body of believers to determine whom the Lord would have to serve as elders of the assembly. After some specific teaching on the shepherding ministry of elders, a decision was reached that was agreeable to all the saints and three men were recognized as elders.
We continued to meet at the hotel for a little more than one year. Then the management informed us that it was time to find a new home. With just one week’s notice I began visiting local churches, but after two days I found none that would cooperate with what they viewed as competition. So, I went to the public schools in the area. I found an elementary school that was agreeable and available. We began using their facilities the following Sunday. The Lord is faithful!
We prayed for a place to meet that would be a testimony to the community. We wanted a building that was ready to use, in a great location, and at a reasonable price. Three months later while driving on the main road we saw a church building that had been converted to a small Christian school that was going on the market for sale. We actually saw the realtor placing the sign in the yard. It was a sign for us! We copied the telephone number and stopped within five minutes and called. The realtor was a believer and responded favorably to our burden to preach the Gospel and teach the Word in this area.
Our little group watched as God worked on our behalf. The reward of their faith was realized that first Sunday morning when we met together in our new location to remember the Lord. Since our beginning we have grown with families and children to a healthy and happy fellowship. We are glad to have visitors come and it is a privilege to present the Gospel to a world in need. The New Testament assembly is the great alternative in this day of mega churches and modern ways. Christ is preeminent, His Word is prominent, and the fellowship is precious. Believer Bible Chapel is located at 13531 Lancaster Hwy, Pineville, NC. For more information about meeting times and contact information please visit our website: www.bbccharlotte.com.
The Lord is our Ebenezer, our Stone of help, who “hitherto has helped us!”