One year ago today, May 3, 2010, I woke up thankful that the rain had ended and the storm was over. We had driven by the church the night before, and although the river was very high, all the water was still in the river. I spent some time with the Lord that morning, and as I got ready for work, I saw a picture on Facebook that alarmed me – the water was no longer in the river and it had flooded Riverside.
I checked in at work, then headed down to the church to make sure everything was ok. I was sure there must be at least a little water in our church parking lot. I was right. This was the scene I walked up on…
I couldn’t believe my eyes. My friend, Denver, was there with me, and together we ran down the hill, waded through the parking lot, and into our flooded church building.
You can’t prepare for something like that. I was immediately overwhelmed with emotion and broke down in tears while I stood in disbelief shin-deep in muddy water in our church sanctuary. We had moved from the desert and lost everything in a flood. This was not in our plans!
It WAS in God’s plans though. He may not have caused the flooding, but He allowed it and would use it powerfully in our lives and our church. Not only was the church flooded by water, but we were also flooded by God’s provision and faithfulness through it all.
A 7-month old church plant with 10-15 people in regular attendance should not have survived something like this. After we had removed as much as we could from the building, the church owned less than when we had originally opened our doors 7 months prior. Everything we owned fit neatly into the bed of my truck. 2 days later, we met in the same living room that our Bible study had begun in 9 months prior. We were starting over.
Thankfully, God had plans to use this flood in ways we never dreamed of. The following Saturday, after the water had drained, many of us from the church met at the building and began stripping it down to the studs. There was even another local church that brought a group of college students to help us out! I can’t think of anything that could have brought the people of Awaken Church together more than the flood. We met that night (and for the following 2 months) on Wednesdays and Saturdays in the second story of a bank, where another church was meeting on Sundays. It wasn’t “home,” but it was a place to meet!
On July 11, 2010, we made the switch from Saturday nights to Sunday mornings and reopened our renovated church building on Riverside Dr. Clarksville’s local newspaper, The Leaf Chronicle, did a featured news story on our Grand Re-Opening and Channel 4 news from Nashville sent a news crew to cover the story. We made state-wide headlines! That Sunday, we immediately tripled in size.
We celebrated our 1-year birthday on Sunday, September 19 with a huge birthday bash in our parking lot. Jimmy Needham came and led worship and put on a concert in our parking lot. It was an amazing day of celebrating God’s faithfulness and provision!
It took only 3 months for us to outgrow our renovated building. Kids Ministry was bursting at the seams and the sanctuary was filling up. Not only had God used the flood to bring our church together and provide for the church, but He also used it to clear out some space for us to move into right across the parking lot from us! We began renovation on 585 S. Riverside Dr. on Saturday, October 23 and we opened the doors for our very first church service in the new building on Christmas Eve 2010. On our very first service, we completely filled the sanctuary that was 2 1/2 X the size of our old one! We were blown away! That was just the beginning.
God is still evidently at work at Awaken and we’re still experiencing lots of growth. Since we reopened, we’ve seen exponential growth, many lives and families changed, people getting involved in ministry, launched Awaken Groups, and made national headlines with our Good Friday Funeral. Easter Sunday was also a huge success with 250 people in attendance, 7 salvations that weekend, and 2,000 Easter eggs for the kids!
I would have never guessed some of things that the Lord has taken us through over the last year, but I’d never change any of them. They’ve all worked together for our good (Romans 8:28) and we’ve been changed and stretched through it all! I have no idea what lies ahead, except for that if God is for, who can be against us? It may sound crazy, but I now tell people that the flood of 2010 was the best thing that ever happened to Awaken Church!
Isaiah 43:2 – When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you….