Everything was unplanned, but everything went as planned. This sentence seems contradictory, but to those who know the sovereign hand of God, this sentence makes perfects sense. When a tornado swept through the Goshen community on July 6, we were caught flat-footed, but God had been preparing us for this moment for over fifteen years. I have been blessed with the privilege to pastor Hill Station for almost twenty years, and my wife and I have been around HSBC for almost all of our lives. This has allowed us the unique opportunity to witness God’s hand in preparing the church for this moment. God is always at work. His sovereignty can be witnessed in the short and long terms.
Several years ago, Ohio Baptist had a partnership with Tennessee Baptist. Our former pastor, a Tennessean by birth who came to HSBC via West Virginia, returned to Tennessee after his time in Ohio. This Tennessee connection caused HSBC and the Weakley County Baptist Association to form a five year partnership which bought large mission teams to stay at HSBC and serve in our surrounding area. This mission team converted a Sunday school room into a restroom with two showers and a washer and dryer in our basement. The need to accommodate these large groups caused HSBC to install RV hook ups. Another Tennessee church provided the funds for a tankless hot water heater for the showers.
As Chain Saw teams with Disaster Relief were being deployed to Goshen, Tennessee Baptists returned to Goshen. We had the privilege to house over 80 Disaster Relief volunteers over two weeks. Tommy Wilson was one of those volunteers. Tommy was probably the only Tennessee Baptist that had ever heard of Goshen because he was part of those Weakly County mission teams. It would be easy to dismiss this story as coincidentally, but we know that God was preparing Hill Station to host these Disaster Relief over many years. We had not planned for the tornado but it was part of God’s plan.
As we were planning our yearly schedule, Vacation Baptist School was not falling on the calendar in any manageable way. After some prayer and brainstorming, a church member suggested moving VBS to Goshen’s spring break. VBS would work on the church calendar over spring break, but we had never done that before, nor had anyone we had known had ever done VBS over spring break.
Hill Station has always been a church willing to try something new and outside the normal box. Spring Break VBS was scheduled. We knew our community and we would need to provide dinner night nightly. This forced us to purchase two new stoves to replace the two stoves that only half way worked. This was only one example of God’s plan for the summer of 2022. It would have been impossible to cook on those old stoves and feed the Disaster Relief teams. When the Disaster Relief rolled in, there were two new stoves waiting on them. There are numerous other stories of God working through the Goshen tornado and its aftermath.
The tornado caught us by surprise, but God has never been surprised. Looking back, we can see where God has been preparing Hill Station for this moment for years. I just wonder what God is doing today that is preparing us for what will happen in the years to come. God is always at work. He is never surprised. Rejoice in God’s sovereignty. It is all part of God’s perfect plan.