By Mitch Shiffer
SALEM—In the middle of the Ozark region one can find the 4,800-person town of Salem. That is where Round Pond Baptist Church has a story of a work God has performed.
Four and a half years ago, Round Pond was on the brink of not existing as a body of believers. There were literally two members, with no government or constitution in place.
Pastor Lyndell Decker, who was filling in as pastor in various places, was asked to do a declaration service regarding an adjoining cemetery. Decker preached, and as he puts it, God was there. Roughly 50 people attended.
Decker challenged the people to pray and see if they were to close the church at that time. The next Sunday at the morning service, about 12 people were present. Two weeks later, they called Decker as their pastor.
“I believed that God revealed He is still God and if people would come to worship Him and cry out, He would bless His Word and bless His people,” Decker said.
When people turned to the Lord, it was clear He was working within Round Pond. Many people accepted Christ.
In 2006, 14 surrendered. Fifty-eight became Christians at Round Pond during 2007 and 2008 (34 the first year and 24 the second). Twenty-nine in 2009 came to Christ as well, and this year so far 11 people have made the decision to trust Jesus as their Savior.
The atmosphere at the church now is one that Decker calls a worshipful attitude. He adds that repentance is preached continually. Out of the body at Round Pond, many of the men there have answered the call to the pastorate. Because of this, attendance has dropped somewhat to a level where 60-65 regularly attend.
“It is an awesome experience,” Decker said. “At the point, it is an addition by subtraction. It is a divine decline for this New Testament body.”
When people started coming to Christ, He began to provide for the physical needs of the church. When Decker arrived, there was no baptistery at Round Pond. A stock tank was donated to the church for baptisms and painted by a body shop. A heater was used to warm the water.
In 2007, a 30-foot-by-30-foot fellowship hall was built. Ninety-six new chairs and new lights were put in the sanctuary. Building expansion continued in 2008 with additions made at the church entry and the baptistery. This included work on the stock tank and adding change rooms. Air conditioning was also added to the sanctuary.
Restrooms and a building for classrooms were built on in 2009.
“All of this was paid in full as we built them,” Decker said. “A God thing, no debt, Praise the Lord!”
Now people are driving from a 40-mile radius to attend church at Round Pond. For most people it is a 15-mile trip one way.
The Lord’s blessing at Round Pond Baptist Church has brought them back from the edge. This recovery is what Lyndell Decker calls “a small amount” of God’s work in a short period of time.