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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The little church that faith built

Thursday, January 13, 2011

After years of trials, the Light in the Wilderness Assembly of God Church near Agnos has a permanent home and will be celebrating an open house Jan. 16.
Perhaps J.R. R. Tolkein said it best. "Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens." For many, one of the main reasons for attending church is to worship and affirm their faith and, at times, faith is the hardest thing to keep, especially in times of trial. But, for one local church congregation, faith is all they had at times pulling them through when Mother Nature was less than kind to their church facilities.

Light in the Wilderness Church, formerly located in downtown Hardy, has endured three floods, and through faith, has continued to find the good in God's blessings.

Today, the church is proud to have a brand new home near Ash Flat and a bright future on the horizon.

Pastor Stan Jones and wife, Deanna, are more than happy to be in the new facility, which they were able to purchase for less than the lease on their previous building. The church is a huge improvement over holding services in such places as a gym and furniture store, after their downtown Hardy location was damaged on three different occasions by Spring River flooding.

Mrs. Jones said one of the floods brought water two and a half feet into the building and on another occasion, the flood completely covered the building. But moving was not as simple as it sounded. Another buildings was too high to buy and it was more economical to repair damages than go into debt.

During floods, in 2008 and 2009, the church was completely under water. Because it was paid off and there was no bank loan on the building, they found flood insurance, after FEMA rezoned the area , would cost $28,000 a year, a price they obviously could not afford.

Jones said after the first flood, the cost for repairs was about $40,000. Blessings continued for the church after the next two floods and not having insurance. She said churches from as far away as Oklahoma sent money to help with the costs. Jones said, although they had a small congregation, everyone worked together to get them back in the church for services.

Following the 2009 flood, members decided they had to do something. The church rented a furniture store in Highland, signed a year lease and put the church at Hardy up for sale. Before the lease was up, the church prayed about whether to sign another lease. Jones said, during this time, the church near Agnos came up for sale and one of members saw it and called.

They decided it would be a good location. Jones said, "After we prayed about it, we felt it would be a great opportunity, because there are a lot of churches in Highland, Hardy, Ash Flat and Cherokee. Out there (near Agnos) they saw a potential to pull new members from Salem and Horseshoe Bend." The building appraised for much more than they actually paid for it. "That was a blessing in itself, the payment was less than we were paying for rent." Jones said.

Mrs. Jones said they have always felt blessed, although, admittedly there were times she became discouraged. She said finally the light shined through and the church was able to purchase a new building. She said they knew it was God's plan

The Light in the Wilderness Church is between Ash Flat and Agnos and Jones said they have a chance to really grow in the area and look forward to what God has in store for them. Jones smiled and with pride that there are people who come from Poughkeepsie, Horseshoe Bend and other areas to attend services.

Jones said the congregation is small, but she is very proud of the children's ministry and what a blessing it is to know the children one on one and be able to know each of their birthdays, unlike the larger churches at which her husband has pastored.

Jones would like the public to know the main thing they have learned from the long road to their permanent home is that, even in the worst of times, God always has a plan and it is at these times, when people are most discouraged, that they must persevere because God always knows best.

The Light in the Wilderness Assembly of God Church is proud to announce an open house which will be held Jan. 16. The Jones' invite the public to attend and witness the wonderful facility they are finally able to call their permanent home. The church is located four miles from Ash Flat toward Salem on the left. There are three large crosses in front.

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