It’s said good things happen to good people and that couldn’t be truer for Elsberry First Baptist Pastor Sam Byers, who was recently given permission to temporarily live in the parsonage at Star Hope Baptist.
“After receiving the call to be the new pastor for First Baptist, my wife and I put our home, in O’Fallon, on the market with the goal of relocating to Elsberry,” explained Byers. “Long story short, we weren’t able to sell it quite the way we hoped and wound up selling it through a lease/purchase arrangement. However, this meant we couldn’t buy a home in Elsberry until the 18-month lease arrangement has run it’s course and the purchase of our O’Fallon home was finalized.”
Unfortunately, this left Byers and his family in a little bit of a bind, as they had no place to stay. With four kids and the possibility of that number growing through foster care, they needed at least a three-bedroom home, with preferably two bathrooms. Also with his wife being a certified personal trainer, they needed space to put their exercise equipment, which on a side note, they plan on opening a fitness center in Elsberry sometime in 2014.
“We looked and looked and looked and so did members of our First Baptist family, but just couldn’t seem to find anything meeting those qualifications in the Elsberry School District,” said Byers. “After quite a bit of searching, I put in a phone call to Gus Loness, a trustee at Star Hope Baptist, knowing that the church’s parsonage (house for their pastor) had been vacant since Brother Allen Calkins left town. “
Byers said he knew what he was about to suggest was pretty unconventional, but wondered whether or not he and his family would be able to rent the house from Star Hope until they found a new pastor. According to him, Loness, jumped right on the idea saying he felt compelled by a passage of Scripture in Matthew 25 where Jesus said, “Whatever you’ve done for the least of these brothers of mine, you’ve done it for me.”
“Gus said he felt that by serving our family during our time of need (because of the contract on our home, we needed to be moved out by July 26–which gave us just over three weeks notice), the church was actually being given the opportunity to serve Jesus and be a blessing,” said Byers. “Loness got on the phone and talked with as many deacons and trustees from Star Hope as possible and convened a meeting among them on Saturday, July 20 to discuss the matter further and bring a motion before the members at a special called business meeting after worship on July 21.”
According to Byers, those present at the meeting voted unanimously to allow them to live in the parsonage from month to month until a new pastor was called. Also, since it was not a formal lease arrangement and because they desired it to be a ministry and not a business, the deacons and trustees decided to bring a motion that Byers family not be charged rent, but simply gave to the church whatever they felt led to give.
“Needless to say, we felt like the Lord’s hand was in the process all along,” said Byers. “While we were getting nervous and panicky, God was simply waiting for his cue. The Lord moved in the hearts of His people to be a blessing to their brother and sister in Christ.”
Byers added that it was a true testimony of Christian love that one church would be such a blessing to another church in it’s own community.
“Truly, the words of Jesus in John 13:34 ring true, ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another,’” said Byers. “My wife and I feel so incredibly blessed by this outpouring of love from fellow believers and this timely display of God’s faithfulness.”
After getting settled in following their move in on Wednesday, July 24, Byers said he hopes to begin shopping locally, signing their oldest son up with the Elsberry Soccer Association, visiting the local library and being able to be hospitable to folks from their church and the many new friends they meet in the community.
Byers went on to say, “To everyone who has worked to make this happen or has tried to find a place for our family to stay, ‘The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace [Numbers 6:24-26].’”
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