June 17, 2015
Gospel Outreach Church
Ball Ground, Georgia
ccm Cross #0086
Additional Pictures after the Testimony
3834 cdd Complete Restoration
Cyber Daily Devotion
Volume 16 Number 128
Today’s Author: Pastor Bill
Scripture: Psalm 23:3
“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake” NKJV
Hello, my name is Pastor Jerry Stewart from GO Church (Gospel Outreach Church) in Ball Ground, Georgia. This is my Cross Testimony of how the Lord has shown me great mercy through Complete Restorations in my life.
I grew up in Pensacola, Florida with two older brothers and a younger sister. My dad was a manager for American Cyanamid chemical company. Mom was mostly at home and a strong Christian. We lived in a Jim Walter home. That is a home finished on the outside but we were required to finish the inside.
As we grew up, when the church doors were open we were there. At age seven I knew I was called to preach the gospel. It wasn’t until I was 16 that I realized the preaching of the Gospel could be powerfully effective. Between ages 7 and 16 I felt the church was powerless with the Gospel. Then at age 16 I experienced an encounter with the Power of Holy Spirit and everything changed.
I immediately began preaching boldly for Christ. Words I never knew or considered flooded my mind. I met the Wilkinson Brothers who were a gospel singing group. I joined with them as a preacher. They sang and I preached. We did this during the summer between years of High School.
After college graduation I entered ministry as a youth pastor at an Assembly of God Church in Florida, near Panama City Beach. I then took a senior pastor position which required me to be bi-vocational. I was not happy with a part time position. I challenged God, “Lord, by years end if I’m not a full time preacher then I’m going back to school.” It was spoken in pursuit of God’s plan for my life. If He intended I be bi-vocational I’d simply educate myself in something I could make a good living at while I pastored. The Lord answered my challenge and by years end I was the full time Pastor of a church in Graceville, Florida.
Soon after my arrival, I found out that due to our strong emphasis on the Holy Spirit the local Baptist seminary forbade students from attending our meetings. One student who did attend was demonized. Late one night his wife came to my home beckoning me to come as her husband was in trouble. I realized this was serious and called a trusted brother to go with me. The dear student was so demonized the demon had instructed him to go to our service the next Sunday, and stand up and shoot me when I was at the apex of my message.
When we left he was set free from the demon and we had the stolen gun he had intended to use.
A few years later I was selected as the Youth Director for the Assembly of God churches in the panhandle of Florida. My responsibilities included training youth minsters, administration for camps and coordinating conventions. All this and I was responsible for raising money for missions too. During this time my wife and I lost a baby at birth. My wife had problems adjusting and eventually left me.
I spent a year in Adel, Georgia as a Pastor and then had an opportunity to head a church in the thriving suburb of Stockbridge near Atlanta. The church had fallen on hard times and when I arrived there were only a handful of people. I stayed 22 years. I met my wife Nancy here. We adopted our daughter Lauren and the church grew continuously. In the late 90’s a Revival started that lasted for the better part of a year. We held services twice a day for the first months. These special meetings were fueled with amazing miracles of conversions and healings.
Nancy and I hit a rough spot in our relationship. We divorced and I resigned as the Pastor. I became the prodigal I had preached so many times before. This was a dark period of my life as I sought to understand all that was happening. I was living alone and attending two different churches each Sunday. I was trying desperately to hold on to the last vestiges of faith left in my soul.
Then one day I turned on a TV preacher I had not appreciated in the past. I listened and as I did the Holy Spirit embraced me and gave me hope.
I went to church that night with a new spring in my step. Then I heard the Lord say, “It isn’t over.” HE went on to say, “I want you to love your wife as I love you.” Then the scripture, Ephesians 5:25 jumped out at me: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” NKJV
I immediately sought out Nancy asking, “Will you re-marry me.” Nancy had spent the last 18 months re-building her boundaries and her life. She graciously said, “Yes.” Together with our daughter Lauren we had a Complete Restoration in life through Christ.
Once our family was restored I looked for a preaching opportunity. I found one as an interim Pastor at a church that had grown too fast, spent too fast and was approaching bankruptcy. When I started there only a few people remained and circumstances were dire. I was there without pay for most of my 18 month tenure. That church property was eventually signed over to the Bank.
When I left this church many of the attendees surrounded us with love and the next Sunday we started GO Church — Gospel Outreach Church of North Georgia. We began meeting in the historic “Old Bargain Barn” which consisted of seven interconnecting buildings. The buildings were used as a large thrift store and the owner graciously allowed us to begin meeting in one building. Before we knew it we had grown so fast that we occupied all seven buildings. We started without a chair to sit in, but people who love God and were sold out to Him and His cause served and gave sacrificially. After several months we were fully functioning and everything was in place for our church to be the home for 300 people.
Then the phone rang — OUR CHURCH — our historic building was on fire.
I rushed to the church and the fire was contained in just one building as the fire fighters began arriving. The fire was picking up intensity as the firemen attached their hoses to the hydrant. They turned on the water — but to everyone’s surprise — no water pressure! Six firefighting companies by now had arrived and stood around all seven buildings keeping people away as they systematically burned. The last building to catch fire was just burning to the ground as an emergency backup pump truck arrived with water. We had just celebrated our one year anniversary as GO CHURCH the Sunday before. And now we stood and looked on as the buildings were consumed by fire.
This Cross was built from the steel beams after the fire of the Old Bargain Barn.
It is on display in the current GO Church building.
This Cross symbolizes, “How you survive a fire, keep your hands up and on My Cross.” JS
It was a devastating event. As the buildings burned I received a phone call from a dear friend who was able to arrange for us to use the local Chamber of Commerce building for services. The next day we held our service.
Arising early from a draining evening I was desperate for something to share with the dear ones who would gather on this Sunday morning. The words I “heard” were “This is just a set up for a step up.” After that initial Sunday and for the succeeding Sundays for the next year — we met in the new facilities of our county’s recreation department. The size was considerably smaller than the buildings that had burned but we truly believed God had a plan. Many of the faithful came to our personal home for a year on Sunday’s to pray for God’s direction.
Then the phone rang again! This time it was the bank to which the previous church property had been given back to. They said all the red tape from the previous church had been resolved. They had a three million dollar property available and asked us to make an offer. I was honored that they would ask but no way could we afford three million dollars. The elders got together and prayed and that was that.
A few days later I went to check my mail at home and found a box with a note. It said “To help purchase our new building.” Inside the box was $30,000 cash. We stepped out and raised additional funds. When we were done we called the bank and offered what we could afford. They took it. They accepted our offer which was less than 30 percent of the estimated value. One more Complete Restoration and even more from the Lord.
Today this Cross we plant at our new home is so relevant. The Interstate Highway number 575 to the North of Atlanta runs right buy our church. There are massive stands of trees all around us but there is a natural hole which allows every car that travels South on the freeway to see our Cross.
Some might say the Cross is an idol — to them I say we do not worship the Cross — we worship God, who before He ever created man, had in mind a Cross which would become pivotal to His plan of redemption. The magnificence of what Christ accomplished through the Cross will only be fully told in eternity. Our goal is to enjoy — here and now — all the benefits and engage the responsibilities Jesus paid for and provided, upon the Cross at Calvary.
This planted Cross brings hope to a community that watched a church die here. Now they witness the power of resurrection life, the restoration of hope, all made possible by our Savior who laid down His life on an Old Rugged Cross.
My favorite Bible verse is 2 Corinthians 3:5 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God” NKJV
Pastors Bill and Carol, our sincere thank you for delivering this Cross from Minnesota and to all your readers who helped provide this symbol of Christian Victory for us.
Prayer: Father thank you for complete restorations which are bigger and better than what was left in ruin and ashes. All for Your Glory! In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
Pastors Bill and Carol transported the 30 foot aluminum Cross
from Minnesota to Georgia Drive completed in 2 days
L-R Dave, Gary and Pastor Bill wash road grit off the Cross
Dave and Gary shine aluminum Cross with Scotch Brite pads
Dave applying a coating of roofing tar on the bottom of the Cross
to protect the aluminum from corrosive concrete
Gary and Dave wrapping the tar painted area of the Cross with heavy duty poly
Dave is applying a thin coat of clear lacquer for protection
Transporting the Cross across the parking lot
Pastor Jerry Stewart joins us
Lifting the cross in position
Placing Cross in the hole
“FIRE IN THE HOLE”
Pastor Jerry attaching ropes to hold Cross in place for 2-4 weeks.
Then ropes will be removed.
Gary securing one of the rope corners
Pastor Jerry drills the plaque in place
Sunday service all attendees are offered a rock to write their burdens on.
Then one by one the rocks are prayed over and placed at the foot of the Cross
Looking at the Cross and Church from the South bound Interstate
Pastor Jerry and wife Nancy greet ya’ll!
Plaque installed Declaring God’s Glory over Ball Ground, Georgia.