SPRING HILL — The senior pastor of Spring Hill Baptist Church said buying the property needed to expand the church's academy was nothing short of a miracle.
"God was that good," Pastor Ray Rouse said about the purchase finalized April 6. "We have over 340 students, and we've had to turn some children away. We have a waiting list, so we wanted to expand."
The growing school, with students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, has been using the church sanctuary foyer for one of its classrooms.
"We just ran out of space," Rouse said.
Rouse, who also is the school principal, Michael Willis and other church officials looked at other potential pieces of property near the church.
"There was a church that was down to about 10 people, so we wanted to purchase that, but the pastor didn't want to give it up," Rouse said. "And then another church had 7 acres and a small building, but their trustees didn't want to give that up. So, we'd pretty much given up."
After they stopped their search, they received an unexpected email from a realtor representing the Spring Hill First Church of the Nazarene, asking they were interested in purchasing the church's 5 acres of land and 10,000-square-foot building.
"We felt the Lord dropped this in our lap," Rouse said. "We went over immediately, and we liked it, so we made a purchase offer, and they accepted it. It was the Lord's timing, and in the Lord's way, he provided."
The purchase of the facility just 2 miles away allows the academy to enroll at least 100 more students. The pastor of the Nazarene church, Jack Lowe, agreed that God orchestrated the sale. His church, located on Century Drive since 1987, has dwindled to an average attendance of 28 over the past several years. Because of decisions made six years ago that incurred debt the congregation could no longer sustain, the school closed in September.
"It's really been a Godsend," said Pastor Lowe, who has served the Spring Hill church for four years. "Our prayer was that it would sell before we transitioned everyone [in the congregation] to different locations, and that it would be used as a school. When the people heard that, and it happened within a week's time, they erupted in applause."
God honored the good attitude of the congregation, Lowe said.
"It has been one of the most precious experiences that I have had in my time of ministry," Lowe said. "No one likes to close a facility. Most of the time you look at those kinds of things as some kind of failure, but we see it as a Romans 8:28 experience. Not all things are good, but all things can work together for good. Some of the things that led us to this place weren't good, and we assume that responsibility. But on the other hand, God has taken that with our attitude and turned it out for his good. And we've celebrated that part."
The new facility will give the Academy nine more classrooms, four offices, a chapel that seats about 150 and a large cafeteria and kitchen.
"It's about ready to move right in," Rouse said. "We'll put a new roof on and make some minor improvements, but it's pretty much ready to go."
Willis is delighted with the purchase. He attended the last service at the Nazarene church on Palm Sunday to let the people know how the Academy will use its building.
"The Academy has been praying for room to expand for several years," Willis said. "This is an answer to our prayers. God has clearly opened this door for us, and we are excited to go through it with him."