God's call to work in Richwood
Between 2006 and 2008, I counseled with my father and pastor (G. William Harding) on establishing another place to worship. Brother Harding encouraged me to follow my calling and cautioned me to to take heed to the advice of the apostle Paul where he says, "So have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation" (Romans 15:20).
I was not interested in pulling a group of former church members together nor was I interested in building on another man’s foundation, or work. I simply wanted to share the Good News to people who need to hear it and I worked closely with my father, towards this end, sharing the same calling from God that he had in this area. Paul said in 2 Corinthians that he wanted, "To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to [my] hand" (10:16). Another translation says, "we can preach the Good News in other places beyond you and shall not have to boast about work already done in someone else's field" (GNT). This way, God gets the glory and not man.
In June 2006, I spoke with my father (Pastor) about my calling and he said that he felt the Lord was in it and would work with me anyway that they could. I continued prayerfully and soon the Lord brought Sister Jodee and I together with those of a like-mind in serving the Lord. Having already received guidance from the Lord, on starting this work, my wife and I began praying for direction on finding a permanent location. This was around October or September of 2006.
By May 2007, I began holding weekly services with a group of saints. God gave me the annointing to pastor and renewed our desire to permanently establish this new congregation. Brother and Sister G. W. Harding were very supportive and donated a guitar for this new work. This came in handy because we were renting (or borrowing facilities) as the Lord permitted, and the guitar was portable.
Between October 2006 and March 2009 (and even beyond) many distractions were presented to us by the devil. I had several opportunities to combine congregations, take other works, or to join with other groups already meeting somewhere else. Some had buildings, some did not: All of them wanted a pastor. God was not in any of this and we stayed on course by His grace.
Although I knew the path that the Lord was guiding me on, I did not receive clarity until March, 2009 on where to permanently establish this new congregation. The congregation was diligently praying for direction on where to establish the new work and how to reach lost souls. As I was driving through the villiage of Richwood, God very clearly spoke to me and told me that this is where he wanted me. I did not even know where I was at the time and had to get the map out and look. This happened a second time as I entered the villiage from a different direction a couple weeks later. After feeling clear in my mind about this location, I approached a local minister and asked him to come to the village of Richwood and pray with me, that I would fully understand God's will in this matter. I then spoke with the saints we were meeting with and they too felt that the Lord was calling us to this location.
For several months, the congregation met in the village, prayed, and asked the lord for direction on where to meet. We would travel to the village and have prayer each week and then spend time talking with the local people and getting to know them.
About six months (September, 2009) after the Lord gave the congregation clarity on the town to work in, I took my mother, Sis. Margaret Harding (Pastor G. William Harding's wife) and prayerfully drove through the city, once again praying on where to worship. We found a worship building for sale and I wrote down the number to call. We continued driving and as we passed a little white worship house (the building was then occupied), the Lord placed the desire in my heart that this was where he wanted us to meet. I pointed it out to those with us and told them that I felt this building was where we needed to worship.
Later that week, I called the number from the first building I saw and was told that the building had sold but that I should call another place because they were "moving to a different facility". When the man gave me the name of the place to call, I could once again feel God's anointing - it was "The Richwood Chapel”, the place God had given me the desire to purchase as I drove by. At this time, we stopped looking for a worship house. God had made it clear where he wanted us.
As it became evident to others that God was indeed establishing the work in Richwood, I started double checking things with the Lord to make sure that we were still in his will. I was walking down the hallway in the house praying, to verify God’s will concerning Richwood, when he spoke to my conscience saying, “Pick up the Bible. I have something to tell you.” I went to the closest Bible and opened it to Acts. I read the following words, “Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city”. My heart rejoiced and God’s anointing fell on me, giving very clear divine guidance on establishing the work in this city.
My wife, Sister Jodee, called the people in charge of the worship house and left a message. I believe nearly 6 weeks went by before I received a return call. During this time, those carrying a burden, continued in prayer.
Two years later, In December, 2009, one of my brothers expressed interest in driving to Richwood with me and learning about the work. I told him I was asking people to pray along with us, that the Lord’s will would be done. As we drove through the town, he said that he felt the Lords anointing was in what the congregation was doing and encouraged me to continue working as God directed.
Finally, Sister Jodee and I received a message from the owners of the building and we set a time to meet. As Jodee and I walked into the sanctuary, we could feel God’s presence. I walked up behind the location of the pulpit and stood praying that God would bless his people and give me the strength to continue to present his word without fear of people and without partiality.
After looking the building over, I shared with the congregation that this was indeed the building. The Lord confirmed this by allowing us to purchase it at about an 80% discount. We had absolutely no money for the work (no cash, no loans, no saving, no credit: nothing), yet God provided every single need, including the building. We did not provide, but God did.
January 20, 2010, While waiting to go back for a follow up visit, the local paper printed a story about the history of Richwood and we learned that the gospel was first preached to the community at the very worship house we were looking at. This was very inspiring.
On March 23, 2010, I signed the paperwork on the building. After 3 years, the congregation finally received a permanent building. The building was to be paid off by November 2012. While waiting on this permanent place to worship, the Lord provided nearly every item necessary for holding worship services. From April, 2009 until April, 2010, prayer meetings were held in the village.
April, 2010 we began holding services in the new building. What a wonderful time of rejoicing and praising God. My brother Marcus began worshiping with the congregation during this time and I immediately asked him to assist in preaching. We were able to work together, preaching the gospel to precious souls.
July, 2010 the congregation had an Official Opening and Dedication service.
In October of 2010, the congregation once again grew as Sister Harding felt led of God to worship with us and to continue working in the community. It is an honor to be able to once again worship the Lord with my brother and mother.
Sister Jodee and I realize that the Lord's work involves many people in many places and we hope that we will be able to influence others to follow Jesus Christ and to serve God almighty. Praise be to God on High and to our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ!
In His Name,
Nathan and Jodee Harding