Church remains upbeat after kitchen fire

Lighthouse Baptist Church, Saint George, Kan., remains undaunted after a kitchen fire on Sunday, March 3.

The church purchased the former elementary school building in the fall of 2008 after a new school was constructed in St. George.

On Sunday nights the church opens the gymnasium for a basketball ministry. March 3 was like any other Sunday night as the young men and women made their way into the gym to start warming up.

When the clock read 8 p.m., Pastor Jim Lowry whistled and everyone gathered at center court for the usual devotion and prayer. After prayer, the group of just over 30 people there that night started to shoot for teams.

After the first 10-minute game finished and the second one was starting, one of the teenagers headed to the kitchen to get a case of water and a case of Gatorade. As he opened the door to the church fellowship hall (dining room), black smoke poured out.

Quickly several people started to get everyone out and make sure they were all accounted for. While three men fought the fire, two others held lights so they could see. The fire department was called, and everyone was safe.

Standing just outside the kitchen door, the pastor continued to run in every time the fire spiked up until the firemen arrived. Once the firefighters were on the scene they took great care to put out the fire and protect the building. They even went to the extent of putting down kitty litter to keep water from getting onto the gym floor.

Among those who were there, both prayers and thanksgiving were being offered as they stood outside and waited. The 911 call was at 8:31 p.m. and by 8:37 there were already texts and phone calls coming in to offer help and prayer.

The fire investigator informed Pastor Jim that the fire was started by an old electric can opener. The fire was contained in the kitchen. However, there was a great deal of smoke and soot damage in that building. Restore of the Heartland is doing the clean-up and remodeling. Damage is estimated at $50,000-$70,000. Lighthouse is expected to have full use of the kitchen by the end of April.

This was not the first so-called disaster to take place in the building at Lighthouse. They purchased the former elementary school building in October 2008. Since then there have been three floods with well over $100,000 in damage. During one of the floods there was a loss of power to the boilers causing the sealed boiler line to freeze and break. Also, a lightning strike took out a furnace. Yet the facilities have continually been upgraded.

The church first started meeting in Saint George in the park. It was not uncommon to be told to “Go away. You are not welcome here.” We believe these things to be spiritual warfare. The community we are in is small but has always been very dark. We are willing to fight these spiritual battles to be used of God to shine into our community.

Since October 2008 Lighthouse, with an adult membership of about 30, has served more than 25,000 meals and distributed or been a part of distributing more than 100,000 pounds of food to people in northeast Kansas.

Lighthouse was called upon by the city of Saint George in the summer of 2012 to distribute water to every home in the city limits after the city water system had a short-term shutdown.

Through partnerships with other organizations Lighthouse has brought limited dental services to Saint George. Every other month on the fourth Tuesday the county health department sets up at Lighthouse to provide all services needed.

Lighthouse has a senior ministry every Tuesday morning with special services on the fourth Tuesday. On that fourth Tuesday for the seniors care there are services such as nurses to do toenails, manicurist, hair stylist and a massage therapist.

Lighthouse has a room set up with clean, up-to-date clothing. The church has given away many thousands of pounds of clothing to those who need them.

Since moving into the current building Lighthouse has a small group of people who have made and given away 80-100 quilts every year. The quilts go to the VA hospitals, nursing homes, pregnancy centers, and other such places.

On top of these ministries, Lighthouse is the home gym for Chief Homeschoolers basketball, volleyball and football. The gym is also used for practice of 6-10 other basketball teams, two additional volleyball teams, a softball team and several other local sports events or practices.

The Rock Creek School district has access to the church for weather or other types of emergency. Lighthouse has brought several concerts to the community.

Lighthouse has had the great privilege of providing five vehicles to people in need. One of those was a very nice handicap van for a family with no way to transport their 14 year old girl.

The church is working on a library that can be used by the public; there are already local kids that check out books and videos.

Believing that the church is to be the center of any community the preceding ministries are just a partial list of what takes place through Lighthouse.

All these ministries are things we do to both bring glory to God and reveal his glory. However, priority goes to the proper dividing of God’s Word so that souls might be saved. Though worship services, Sunday school and Bible study we seek to share Jesus Christ and bring glory to His name.