About Lighthouse Family Worship

1996: The Call

The year was 1996. Another long hot Oklahoma summer was in full swing. I along with my wife, Kathy, and our children were attending the Assembly of God church in Wynona, Oklahoma and really didn’t know there was a House of Fellowship in Barnsdall.  My wife and I had been radically converted by Jesus three years earlier in the spring of ’93 and we were totally content—no we were thrilled to be a part of Pastors David and Ruth Downing’s congregation in rural Oklahoma.

The services were marked with outstanding worship, powerful preaching, anointed teaching and altar services that rivaled anything I have ever seen in Pentecostal churches.  I saw things in those services that created a hunger in me for the things of God that has never waned, and to be honest I saw things in those years I have yet to see again, the power of God was indescribable.

I was standing behind my wife in the altar during one of those services when the Lord spoke to me, “You are about to leave here.”  Little did I know that would be the beginning of an incredible ride that has lasted over 26 years to date.

 1997:  The Journey Begins

Two weeks later I got a call asking me to come fill in for a vacationing pastor at the House of Fellowship in Barnsdall, Oklahoma.  Two months later the call came that the pastor had passed from this life to the next and would I fill in until they were able to find another pastor. I didn’t hesitate to help.

We cruised along for a month and no one showed up to pastor. I still believed I was going to be an evangelist, but I was getting into the routine of taking care of the congregation of House of Fellowship.  After that first month the church voted me in as their pastor and, as I said earlier, that was over 26 years ago.  When I look back at those early years of my ministry I am surprised anyone survived it, including me.  The congregation was small, but we began to grow.

1999:  From the Alley To The Hill

First let me tell you about the old building.  The building at House of Fellowship was terrible, when it rained water poured under the walls, literally water ran into the building when it rained.  In the summer the only way to stay cool was to sit down.  If you stood up it was unbearable.  The air was only cool from about waist down, I know that sounds crazy but it’s true.

In the winter the ladies used to wear Pac boots with their dresses.  The air at floor level would freeze a bowl of water if you sat it there.  The only warm air was again about waist up, so in the winter you had to stand up if you wanted any warmth, and in the summer you had to sit if you wanted to be cool and if it rained everyone would grab towels and start mopping up water.  The building was located in an alley between an abandoned business with the roof falling in and an abandoned house whose yard looked like a jungle.

When the church began to grow we tried to buy both properties, but neither owner would budge.  We had the house bought at one time for twenty six thousand dollars—twenty six times what the property was worth—but the owner backed down just before the deal was closed.  The little building we were in was packed most services and we began looking for property to build on.

For two years we looked and prayed and cried out to God for a place to build a bigger church.  We thought we had another piece of property bought with a huge building already in place that would have been an easy conversion to a church, but again the deal fell through just before we closed.  At the end of those two long years, eight acres on the east side of Barnsdall opened up to us at an absolute bargain of a price.

I had driven by the place hundreds of times during those two years and not a single time did I give that property a thought.  I had gone over in my mind every conceivable place to build a church in Barnsdall and yet that place had never crossed my mind.  The building deal that fell through is right across the road, but I hadn’t even looked in that direction.  The condition of the property probably had something to do with it; the whole piece sits on a hill with a small draw dividing the land.  There was a small pond in the draw that you couldn’t see from the road because the underbrush was so thick you couldn’t see twenty yards into the property.

For two years we had cried out to God for a place to build and when He gave it to us and the work began I was crying out o Him that I wasn’t ready for this.  God is so wise, when we first began praying for a place to build we weren’t ready and when we were and we started working on the place doing the dirt work, putting in the plumbing, electricity, water, and pouring the slab I felt overwhelmed.

We started building in the summer of 1999 and by October of that year one wing of the building was finished enough to have church in.  We actually began having services in the fellowship hall wing of the building while the sanctuary and Sunday School wings were being completed.  It was amazing to move into a new facility that didn’t leak, the heat and air kept the building as comfortable as we desired and the entire project was a God thing.  We bought a metal building which a contractor put up for us and four or five of the men sat down at a kitchen table and drew up plans for the inside of the building.

The most amazing thing of all is very little changed from that original plan drawn on a sheet of paper on a kitchen table.  People worked, gave and did all that was necessary to see the project complete.  God sent a host of faithful men and women to work, pray, cook, clean and give to make the transition for the House of Fellowship.  They all did an outstanding job and it is amazing to see what God accomplished through the minds and talents of these men and women.

 2000:  Transition To The Lighthouse

By March of 2000, we moved into our new sanctuary and gave the congregation a new name.  The former House of Fellowship became Lighthouse Family Worship Center.  Sometime before we started building we were in a service in the old building and one of the precious members of House of Fellowship stood to her feet trembling under the power of God and began to prophecy over the congregation.  Under the unction of God’s Spirit, she began to say God was going to raise us up as a Lighthouse, and we were going to be as beacons of light going throughout the world.

Everything you see about LFWC today is at least in part due to this initial word of prophecy about us becoming a Lighthouse.  After that word every guest singing group, every guest speaker, over and over,  person after person would stand in the pulpit and say I don’t know what this  means, but I keep hearing the LORD say you are a Lighthouse.  One singing group stopped what they were doing and the leader actually  had the group sing the song, “The Lighthouse,” not knowing anything about what had been said in the previous months.

Unknown to all of us there was a hidden power behind it all. For twenty-five years Grandma Pace had prayed for the house of Fellowship to become like a city set upon a hill.  There were only two that knew this, Grandma and God.  When she shared these things with me everything started making sense.  The Lighthouse, the church location (on a hill), God had miraculously answered Grandma’s prayers and the awesome thing is the rest of us got to go along for the ride.

Giving was essential to us fulfilling God’s answer to Grandma’s prayer and don’t get me wrong—everyone gave.  We could not have built this church any other way. We actually borrowed very little money and that debt is paid in full because of faithful giving.  Emmett Shaw has now gone on to be with the LORD and Pat is still a faithful member of LFWC.  Emmett fully trusted God, and his support and belief in the development of this miracle called Lighthouse Family Worship Center is ongoing today.

2018:  The Lighthouse Of Today

For me to say we built the building, send missionaries around the world, send out countless preaching CD’s and DVD’s, internet and TV ministry without opposition would be a lie.  We have experienced high high’s and very low low’s, but through it all God has been absolutely faithful.  The internet has made available all the ministry we have at LFWC. We long to reach out to the entire world, the prophecy declared, beacons of light into all the world.  God has even opened the door for a TV program.

You’ve got to understand, Barnsdall is a community of around 1200 people, a small community in Northeast Oklahoma.  A quiet little town not unlike so many others in this part of the country and I don’t believe God chose to do mighty things through LFWC because of who we are or anything special we have done, He did it because He wants the world to know that He is God and Jesus is the Savior of the World, and when He uses a congregation in a small town in the middle of nowhere, who can doubt that God has done it.