Back in 2004 when Ralph Henderson went to preach one Sunday at Tunsel Road Baptist Church, Hartselle, in Morgan Baptist Association, the church had seven members and $37,000 in debt.
“They said, ‘Preacher we don’t have much to offer,’ and I told them not to offer anything — I would give them 30 days to help out and we would see where God led,” Henderson said.
He was an associational minister at the time and the church belonged to a different denomination, one that had a more legalistic way of doing things. Over time it had dwindled down to those seven faithful members.
“But they had a complete paradigm shift,” he said. “Those seven people began to pray and I asked, ‘Do we want to grow?’ We talked about what it looks like to grow and change.”
And they began to pray and invite their friends, and God started blessing the church. They paid off their debt and started packing the pews. They built a new building with education space and paid it off.
Now they have more than 200 in worship.
“It’s a joy to watch the faces,” Henderson said. “God has changed Tunsel to a church that opens up. It’s amazing to see.”
It’s all because of God and the way He’s answered their prayers, he said. He told story after story of how God worked in their hearts — a Sunday School teacher who would come to the altar every Sunday to pray over her class, a group who would meet every Monday for prayer.
And a pastor who prayed for direction — and saw God shut down his vocation at a local plant so that he could go full time at the church.
“It changed my life,” Henderson said. “We’ve all changed. Seven people got a hold of God and it changed the church. It’s all Him.” (Grace Thornton)