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By Dean Lindstad

Our church ministered to more than 550 people during our first free food giveaway on October 27, 2012. Two members of the church, Huron Church of the Open Bible in Huron, South Dakota, had started a food warehouse business and had connections to companies in Chicago and Iowa. These companies had offered to send two semis loaded with food to give away. As the cars made their way through our circle driveway, we loaded them up with food. It was a chilly, fall day but the people kept coming – for five and a half hours. The event energized our people so much that we decided to continue to do a food giveaway once a month.

Over the past four years through a partnership with Feeding South Dakota, we have given away over 10,000 pounds of food each month to 300 needy families. I believe this ministry gave us favor with the people of our city and most of all with God as we were being obedient to His heart to help the poor. God brought a scripture verse to my attention one day: “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given” (Proverbs 19:17, NKJV).

Fast forward to November 23, 2015. Jefferson Elementary School, a two-story, brick structure that had served the community since its construction in 1927, was to be auctioned off to the highest bidder with the minimum bid of $10,000 required to start the auction.

One of our church members who had worked at the school as a cashier for the cafeteria suggested that the building would make a good church. The building appeared to be in good condition, so we took a church vote on whether or not to bid on it. Two-thirds of the members voted to bid.

I took two elders with me to the auction, which began with a real estate investor bidding $10,000. The school board president asked for a bid of $20,000 and I raised my hand. He announced that Huron Church of the Open Bible had the high bid at $20,000.

The investor, who was sitting in the front of the room, spoke up. “Who is Huron Church of the Open Bible?” Then before anyone could answer him he asked, “Is that the church that has the free food giveaways?”

When someone in the room answered affirmatively, he continued, “Well, I am not going to bid against a church!”

From that point on no one would bid. The school board president was rather astonished and tried to prime the pump by asking for $30,000, then $25,000, then $21,000. When no bids were forthcoming, he declared that the board was going into executive session to decide what to do. I wish I could say I was confident that God was going to give us the building for $20,000, but in the back of my mind I thought, “They are never going to sell a building appraised at $4.2 million to us for $20,000.”

Huron-school

How wrong I was. When the board came back into the room, the president asked for bids one last time, and seeing or hearing none, he said, “The board has agreed to enter into contract with Huron Church of the Open Bible to purchase the Jefferson School for $20,000.” I could hardly contain my excitement as several people in the room came over and congratulated us. The investor who made the initial bid pulled me aside and gave me a check for $1,000. Now that’s the favor of God.

Huron-gym2Since acquiring the property I have been recording the blessings that have been pouring in. A family who attends our church donated concrete work worth $20,000. A carpet store donated flooring for our kitchen. A motel owner gave us 200 folding chairs. The school paid for the boiler to be inspected and certified for two years and arranged for a floor scrubber to be sold to us for a couple hundred dollars instead of a couple thousand. We were given hundreds of dollars worth of light bulbs. A person I had never met sent a check for a $1,000. The local hospital administrator (who noted that he did not attend church) donated $300.

Huron-playground

We plan to use the 27,000 square-foot building to reach our community. A Hispanic church plant is in the works and possibly a pre-school/daycare. We feed around sixty kids on Wednesday nights and are planning on moving to the facility for our children’s and youth programs. We are blessed with a fully equipped playground (with slides, merry-go-rounds, swings, and basketball courts), a full-sized indoor gym, fourteen classrooms, offices, a handicapped bathroom, four large bathrooms, showers, and a walk-in safe.

Huron-gym

We are working on a kitchen with commercial appliances. When we sell our current property, we will have the funds to fix up the balcony and stage.

People in the community keep asking when we are moving in. I would like to launch on Easter of 2017, but I am obviously not in charge. We serve a great God who can do abundantly more than we could ask or think. We do not want to limit Him, and we are constantly humbled by His favor.

Dean Lindstad is the pastor of Huron Church of the Open Bible in Huron, South Dakota.

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