Some call it the ‘Middletown miracle’
of new facility excites rural community
MIDDLETOWN – Have you ever seen the 1989-released movie “Field of Dreams?”
Kevin Costner plays a corn farmer who lives in the small town of Dyersville, Iowa. One day he hears a voice saying “If you build it, they will come.” It’s a good story filled with inspiration and imagination. In the small community of Middletown, there is a similar situation taking place, but this is real life, not a movie.
Middletown Baptist Church was built 150 years ago, which is obvious with its leaning walls, sinking floors, Sunday School classrooms too small for five people and flooding basement. Even if they built a new building, some might ask if such an endeavor would be worth it given the town has a population of only 199 people and is miles away from another sizable community.
But it seems like, just in “Field of Dreams” when Costner heard the imaginary voice saying, “If you build it, they will come” the people of Middletown Baptist Church heard a real voice – not of a legendary dead baseball player, but from the living God.
Middletown, with its sole attraction being a flagpole in the middle of town, has a miracle taking place in the building of a new facility. Some might even call it the Middletown miracle.
The old sanctuary only has room for 130 people and its membership totaled 199, but recently, with people coming from all over the region, the congregation has begun to grow at a rapid rate.
“We draw families as far as two hours away,” said Greg Williams, pastor. “We have lots of people come from surrounding towns such as Vandalia, Bowling Green, Wellsville, Montgomery City and even St. Charles.
Williams is joined in ministry by his wife, Lisa, and their five children.
“We are a very country church,” Lisa said. “We have potluck dinners every Sunday after worship, and we are all very close.”
The new facility carries a price tag of about $1.2 million, so prayer was essential in finding the money and the help to get the job done.
Sure enough, God provided. Georgia-based Constructors for Christ decided to help with construction. Workers come in around 6 a.m., and work until 6 p.m., before going back to their hotels or trailers for the night. The group has saved Middletown Baptist about $600,000. Constructors for Christ was established in 1975. It started with 12 families in Georgia led by one of the founders Al Davis. Since then they have gone to New Jersey, Kansas, Michigan, and in their home state to help with projects.
It would seem easy for anyone observing to get a sense of community and friendship between the workers. There were men and women of all ages and even some youth. The ladies that are there with their working husbands provide them with three meals a day. They do all of this in a closed elementary school near the site.
“We feel blessed because we’re doing something for the Lord, and the fellowship is wonderful,” said Linda Reese, wife of one of the workers, Randy, who is said to do a pretty mean Elvis Presley impersonation of Gospel tunes from time to time. “There’s a common bond among Christians.”
But fellowship among Christian brethren is not the only reason they do what they do.
“Usually someone is saved on sight, like truck drivers dropping of loads of material, or just people who come up and want to know what we’re doing give us the opportunity to witness,” said Ray Dilbeck, who has been with Constructors for Christ for 29 years.
Congregants of Middletown Baptist have written Bible verses above each doorway. They all stood out, but one seems to stand out above all others: 1 John 3:18 which says, “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”
“True love requires action,” said Dilbeck. “The Lord showed us His love through action, His death for us on the cross, so we’re taking action to show the Lord our love for Him.”
Everyone involved expects the new 300-seat sanctuary under construction to be filled once it is finished.
While based in Georgia, Constructors for Christ teams from Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, Missouri and Illinois have worked on the project at one time or another. In addition, there have also been small individual teams, not associated with Constructors for Christ, from churches in Texas, Florida and Missouri.
The team currently there is from Georgia, but more help will be needed after they leave. Anyone interested in helping may contact the church at 573-549-2464. Drywallers, mudding, painting and finishers are still needed.