Faith as a Life

…and Life as an Example | Download the commemorative article.

This is not a story of a great leader remembered by history, but of a simple man with a great story. He found Christian faith on a roof, and it was on another roof that he later fulfilled this faith.

It is hard to summarize events that are bigger than ourselves. It is more impossible than trying to take a picture of an endless vista of scenic beauty and expect a single snapshot will be equal in the majesty it expresses. Therefore, this too is a simplified story that contains much larger meanings.

Matt was a young man who had learned from the harsh lessons in life that there was no room for God and little reason for faith. On a roof top one day as he did construction work, he came to the end of himself as he saw it. Matt decided to run down a steeply slanting room and jump into the abyss to his demise. But before he could hurl himself into the void, his construction boss physically tackled him on the declining surface and prevented him from falling off.

It was then, during a moment that had been fated to suicide, that Matt let Jesus into his heart. And so began his walk with the Lord.

Some years later, after more trails and tribulations in life, Matt found himself on a very different roof. But this time he was a vessel of the Holy Spirit.

Summerfield Church was built in 1904 and was an example of architectural splendor of its era. Yet over the century, with the erosion of its congregation, the building itself had fallen into disrepair. Beyond cosmetic blemishes that appeared over time, the structural integrity was in jeopardy due to a failing roof. The elements and lack of care meant that when it rained, some parts of the church were inundated with torrential flooding as if hitched to a waterfall.

To replace the roof and restore the church would have cost an estimated $237,000. It was a sum beyond the imagination of the financially challenged congregation of dwindling means. Yet Matt, who also happened to be the husband of Summerfield’s pastor, was encouraged by his wife to live his faith. The Lord had given him skills and brought him to a place in his life where they could be used to the benefit of others.

So at church services one Sunday, Matt pledged himself to fix the roof if the congregation could raise funding to do so. The next day they received a pledge for $15,000. In the end, with volunteer time and a total amount in donations of $22,000, Matt was able to replace the roof of Summerfield and save the church.

This is not a story about a church. It is in part a story about Matt, and his wife. But it is mostly a story about all the things that are not said, the people who donated their time and money to accomplish a job for 10% of its estimated cost. In truth, it is not a story about a building, but about faith. The miracle is not that a new roof appeared overnight and all the problems of the church disappeared. The miracle is that people lived their faith, encouraged others to live their own as well, and that God revealed Himself through their work.

At some point in the distant future, Summerfield as a building will cease to exist. But the shelter it provided over the decades, the memories of the people it touched over all that time, and the stories that continue to live on are what matters most. These are the things that should not be forgotten.

And that is how a story that began on a roof did not end on a roof.