A church built upon the Solid Rock
By Bob Baysinger
SPLITLOG – Problems in Baptist churches are about as common as freezing temperatures in winter.
Sometimes the problems are resolved.
Other times, there are church splits.
At Splitlog Baptist Church , located south of Joplin just off I-71, there was a problem. But the church didn’t split.
It literally fell apart!
Pastor Chadd Pendegraft remembers that mild winter January day in 2003.
“There were two guys on the roof and four to six guys inside," Pendegraft said. “The building started making some popping noises. The guys inside got out, and the two guys on the roof jumped down. The moment their feet hit the ground, everything came down."
The building collapsed!
“I was in my office when it happened," Pendegraft explained. “They came in to tell me that the building was going to fall. We’re always joking around and cutting up. I didn’t believe them. The next thing I knew, it sounded like a freight train went through our foyer. It was really loud."
Fortunately, no one was injured. The building designed to replace the crowded, older facility in which they were meeting, however, was in shambles. Most of the building materials had to be sold as scrap lumber.
That catastrophe would have been enough to dishearten even the most experienced Missouri Baptist pastor. But not Pendegraft. He continued preaching God’s Word, encouraging his people and rebuilding the new building.
It was the second collapse one year later that really bothered the young pastor.
“We had worked late hours from Thursday to Sunday morning, getting everything ready for our first service in the new building," Pendegraft said. “We were getting the basement cleaned up, buffing the floor and installing a sound system we had borrowed from a church at Neosho ."
That’s when a 35-square-foot section of the auditorium’s ceiling came crashing down.
“I guess it was a test to see if we really meant business," Pendegraft said. “It was like a blow to the gut. My first reaction was to get in my truck and drive off. I felt like going to sit in a gourd and pout."
Pendegraft said it dawned on him that the Bible said “that what Satan meant for bad, God meant for good." It is easy to see why Satan targeted Splitlog.
When Pendegraft arrived as pastor, Splitlog’s averaged about 50 for Sunday morning worship services. The first Sunday after the new auditorium’s roof collapsed they had approximately 300 for worship in the new facility’s basement.
People are coming to Christ in bunches because of Splitlog’s ministries. Church members have started going “into the highways and hedges," with some – for the first time — leading people to Christ.
Diligence helped the church make enough repairs so that the new baptistery could be used for the first time on March 7. Pendegraft said he had the privilege of baptizing 19 of the new believers that day.
“I give credit for what is happening to the Spirit of God working through the hearts of people here at Splitlog," Pendegraft said. “Sometimes I don’t know if I am dreaming and just waiting to wake up. All I know is that we have been blessed beyond measure – in spite of me."
Pendegraft said he continues to be “overwhelmed" that God called him to preach.
“I am just amazed that God could take someone like me who was scared to stand in front of people and speak," he explained.
Pendegraft, raised in a Baptist home, said he had a “drug" problem as a boy.
“My parents had to drag me to church every week," he said. “I attribute a lot of what has happened in the last few years to the fact that I was raised in church."
But it wasn’t until 1998 in his parents’ living room that he actually came to know Christ.
“I can’t explain the events leading up to that night," Pendegraft said, “But I was living in misery. I had a trucking business that was failing. I was married with one child at the time, and my life was going down the tubes.
“I came to a realization that night of my lostness – and finally admitted it. I prayed to receive Christ, and I haven’t gotten over it yet."
Pendegraft surrendered to preach in August, 1998.
“Splitlog didn’t hear about me until October, 1999," he said. “I had done some supply preaching. They contacted me about coming to preach. I went with no intention of pastoring. I was working for my dad’s logging business, and I was completely comfortable."
“I didn’t even bring my family with me that day, but the pulpit search committee wanted to meet with me that night. They were ready to hire me. I went home and told my wife, and we began praying about it. I began to search God’s heart, and it became very clear that this is where I needed to be."
Pendegraft has no Bible school and no seminary education.
But it is obvious that God is at work.
Pendegraft baptized 41 people his first year at the church. And the trend continues
“Several weeks ago a 73-year-old man came forward at invitation time," Pendegraft said. “He had been an atheist all his life. The next Sunday, his 70-year-old wife came forward to receive Christ.
“My people have been studying how to share Jesus without fear. The result of that was that we recently had three people go out for the first time and win somebody to Christ. Another man in the church went to visit an older man that he had worked with a number of years. The man confessed that he had been running from God most of his life and prayed to receive Christ.
“I can’t tell you why in the world God is blessing us the way He is. All I know is that He is blessing us beyond measure. It’s just a wonder of God."
The next step for Splitlog is to get the new auditorium ready again. Plans call for a revival to begin on Easter Sunday.
“I’m teaching our people to look outside our doors for ministry," Pendegraft said. “They had the mentality of ‘come-ye-here-for’ rather than ‘go-ye-there-for.’ This mentality is breaking pretty rapidly.
“We had four different people lead someone to Christ while I was on the recent mission trip to Iraq . We’re starting to get outside our walls to minister."
March 18, 2004