God saves a small church, answers pastor’s bold prayer

By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist

A few weeks ago Hopewell First Baptist Church, Bessemer, only had six members, and one couple was building a house in another city and moving soon.

“That would’ve only left four of us,” Martha Daniel said.

And that just wouldn’t do.

Daniel had been a member there since 1972. She and her husband had raised their two children there. It’s a special place, she said. 

But she knew it was time to do something before the church was forced to close.

So she called Barry Cosper, associational mission strategist for Bessemer Baptist Association, and asked if he could help them come up with a plan. He said yes.

“I asked her what her vision was and she said, ‘I don’t want to see the doors close,’” Cosper said.

He met with Hopewell members on a Sunday and they voted to let him guide the process of connecting them with another church.

Bold prayer

“I got out to my car and asked my wife what she thought and she immediately said, ‘Mickey Bell,’” he said.

Unbeknownst to the Cospers, just that week Bell — pastor of Grace Church, Bessemer — had prayed a bold prayer. He’d been looking for a new building for his church and coming up with nothing that worked financially.

“We had been running up against closed door after closed door. I had gotten really discouraged,” he said. “So I said, ‘God, I’m going to ask for something boldly — I’m going to ask You to just give us the building.’”

Emotional Sunday

And then he got the phone call from Cosper. And within days people from Grace Church met with people from Hopewell First and voted for them to deed the building to the fledgling congregation.

The church needed space for worship, for children’s ministry and for their thriving food ministry, and Hopewell First had all that.

But it was a gift for Hopewell First too. On the first Sunday worshipping together Hopewell First’s members were emotional to see more than 70 people filling their church building.

“They wanted to see cars in the parking lot. They wanted to see people in the seats,” Bell said. “And God brought that all in one Sunday. We are grateful for the way they have become a part of us and for the way they were Kingdom minded in wanting the church to keep going. We are honored to partner with them.”

Daniel said members of Hopewell First are “really excited” and looking forward to Oct. 1 when renovations will be complete and the new Grace Church will have a community grand opening. 

“It’s just kind of overwhelming,” she said. “But it’s great.”

Cosper said he has “great joy” in his heart about the merger.

“I think it’s going to be a tremendous fit and a lot of good things will come out of that.”