How does person enter a church for the very first time and then decide within minutes that he will build the pastor a new pulpit to preach from? I know the answer, through the working of the Holy Spirit of an obedient young Christian man.
I met George Blankson, who is enrolled in the Residential Construction program at SUNY Morrisville College as a full-time student, through my ministry outreach that I have been privileged to start on his campus. Prior to the first time George attended church, I received a phone call from him asking if I would pay him as visit on campus and provide pastoral care.
After my initial visit to George he wanted to attend one of WCOM’s Church services but had no transportation to get to us. So, I offered to get him to and from church, if he was interested in attending. He took me up on my offer. A few weeks later on a Sunday morning I set up church and then proceeded to drive to the Morrisville Campus from Sherburne. I retrieved George and off we were to praise, worship, and learn more about Jesus together.
Side note: Now George was born and raised in Africa. I, on the other hand, was born and raised in central New York. I am a gal who lives and works with my simple surroundings; I love nature, animals, and people. This is exactly how I set up WCOM Church in the beginning.
Questions started to come to my mind; how did George grow up? Would George be receptive and embrace our modest church beginnings that God has allowed us to use? The church that is less than two years old, currently functioning out of a converted garage, was this going to be what he recognized as a church? What about the music we play? Will he feel like this church is a place he can call home? Will we connect? What do we have in common?
The common denominator is God! He is the creator of all and He makes all things relatable and connected. Well, when we arrived that Sunday at church, George quickly made his way to the front, sat down, and smiled. He stated he liked the church. So far we were off to a good start. Then his face went to an intense focus and it concerned me. He then told me he was going to make me a new pulpit to have in the church! To be very truthful, I half-heartedly believed he would make me a pulpit. We had just met, he had not even sat through a service yet, and will he even come back? Much less make me a new pulpit.
These were just some of my private thoughts I had within seconds. I was darting back and forth trying to continue the pulpit conversation and trying to stay focused for church and for the people that would start to come through the door any minute. George then asked me the current height of the existing pulpit, which was made out of old wooden fruit crates that I had been using since we opened WCOM doors. What I did not know at the moment is that George was creating and designing the new pulpit in his head and taking in all the necessary thoughts and considerations for building the pulpit.
After church service and coffee hour had come to a close we loaded up in the mini-van to drive George back to campus. I was not sure if he really would come back, though he said he would. It was a few days later that I received a phone call and George was on the other end stating, “I have started the new pulpit and how high is your current pulpit again?” He proceeded to give me his measurements and asking me to check on mine my end. By the way, this phone call came in at 11:00 at night and when George heard me start to respond to his questions, he said, “Were you sleeping?” I said, “Yes, but it is okay.” He said, “I will call back.” I said, “It is alright, are you sure you are ok?” He said, “Yes, I just want to make sure that the height is good for you!”
About this time my adult son was coming out of our back room with head phones on his head and looking at me with a yard stick in my hand. He said, “Mom, what are you doing?” The following morning, a little explaining had to be done to our son about his mom being up so late with yard stick in her hand.
From that night forward there were other conversations with George about his concerns about getting the pulpit just right for me. We also received some pictures sharing the progress of the new pulpit. George was actually building me a pulpit! Then the day came that George called to say, “It is ready!” I made arrangements with him to pick him up on campus to retrieve the new pulpit for the church.
Such craftsmanship the pulpit exhibits and he thought of every little detail to ensure my job as a pastor was not hindered in any way from the pulpit in which I preach from. Later, when George was complimented on his piece of art he created he is quoted in saying, “It’s not by my might nor by my power, but by My Spirit saith the Lord. I am happy God directed my path to do this for His work. It’s so good how God uses people to do great things.....”
So, what is the common denominator with a pastor and a young man from Ghana? God and everything in between! Since meeting and spending time with George I have gained more knowledge about Ghana, the history and the ways some celebrate Christianity in the churches there. I have also had confirmed by George that I have more brothers and sisters in Christ serving in Ghana. Through my time on campus I have learned that there is a burning desire for many of our young people to serve and learn more about Jesus Christ. Also, there is a greater need for many of our colleges to offer more pastoral care and share the Gospel with this next generation in a real, practical way. The students want to be accepted for who they are and where they are at right now.
In the meantime, God is alive and well working through a young man by the name George Blankson. George is a part of the family at WCOM Church and we are blessed to have him with us and his gift as a building artist. We can all receive a little wisdom from George’s gift of a pulpit. George, thank you for your kindness and obedience to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Pastor Wendy Gillette