Problems developed during the negotiations preceding the purchase of St. John’s Church in West Covina. Members of the congregation started worrying, since time was of the essence to firm up the deal, which in turn was necessary to accommodate the growing congregation and the increase in the church’s activities.
However, the flame of the Holy Spirit filled the heart of one of the senior deacons, by the name of late Alfred Hanna to such an extent, that his heart beat within his disease-weakened body as though it was a healthy heart beating in the body of a strong youngster. He repeated with his Christ:
“The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26. 41).
What could such a deacon do, with his frail body, yet rich and strong soul? Although he was neither a priest nor a member of the church’s board of deacons, he felt he had a responsibility as a member of the church and as a member of the body of Christ. He therefore resolved to buy the building.
This matter occupied all the deacon’s thoughts and dreams, but he felt powerless. One early morning he went to the site, looked towards the church and raised his hands in prayer, asking for Divine help.
In his strong belief that that was the church of Christ, with Whom nothing is impossible, he knelt on the grass and worshipped, asking for the Lord’s mercy, and stood up. This he repeated four hundred times despite his illness.
Our deacon returned to his home, with his heart full of joy. He felt as though the gates of heaven had opened in response to his prayers. He felt as though he had reaped countless benefits. He continued to worship daily at the site, as he had done the first day. God thus heard his voice and looked favourably upon his faith, love and meekness.
The church was finally bought, and the first contributor was this deacon, who offered his heart, his love, and his spiritual way before any material offering.
When I learned of what had happened, I was ashamed of myself. Too often do I use human methods to solve the church’s problems, whereas Christ watches over His church and heeds those hearts full of vitality, that know how to open the gates of heaven, so that God may listen to their prayers which emanate with love and humbleness.
A Lesson from a Fallen Old Man