A little church plant in Cherokee, Oklahoma was the site of last September’s Messiah’s Mansion exhibit. Roger and Gabby Simpson opened their home for the Sanctuary team to stay in for two weeks. Sixteen sophomores and juniors from Oklahoma Academy (OA) had the privilege of participating in sharing the gospel with this community through the Sanctuary.
Because of a very rainy summer in Northern Oklahoma, the field reserved for setting up the sanctuary was flooded. A week before it was to arrive, the water was over our shoes, even up to mid-calf! Earnestly, the church prayed, “God, you can create dry ground! You made a path through the Red Sea by sending a great wind. Please stop the rain here and dry the ground so the Sanctuary can be set up.”
It became very windy for the rest of that week and the field was dry in time to set up the Sanctuary! No rain fell during the week of tours. The exhibit was a huge success with over 1,000 people going through the exhibit.
The Simpsons have been active in outreach. Roger makes connections with individuals and city leaders through his work as a licensed plumber and the family is active in the local food pantry and thrift store. But Gabby stated that the Messiah’s Mansion exhibit has been the most successful community outreach they’ve ever done. Opening the doors and hearts in the community, over 180 people have asked for Bible studies!
The Lord provided dry weather for the tours, however, as the last day of tours drew near, rain was forecasted again. The tours would be over, but the Sanctuary was still up. Extra help had to be called in to meet this emergency. Cameron (freshman) and Sam (junior) tell what happened.
Cam: It was nearly 1:45 pm, work would be starting very soon, and as I hastily prepared to depart from the boys' dorm to resume my work at the communications office, I received the message that work had been postponed until 3:00 pm. It was going to be a very different type of work, as not more than four hours north, trouble was brewing.
Sam: The Messiah’s Mansion had been a big project. As a full-scale model of the mosaic sanctuary, it had taken nearly three days to fully assemble, and now at the end of two weeks of tours, we were faced with the daunting task of tearing it down in one night.
Cam: This emergency prompted an urgent call for help. The job of dismantling the sanctuary usually consumes a whole day, but it would be necessary to do this in only eight hours.
Sam: The freshmen and seniors arrived at about 7:30 p.m, just as the last tour was going through. We immediately went to work as the rain was forecasted for 2:00 A.M. Vehicles were parked around the sanctuary to provide light as the curtains of the outer court were taken down and folded. Then the 750 rebar stakes that held the tabernacle down were pulled from the ground. All went quickly and relatively smoothly until about 11:00 p.m. At that point, the fatigue started to show. We started tripping over the stakes, making small mistakes and had a few close calls. Then at midnight food came: granola bars, PB&J sandwiches, and Little Debbie snacks.
Cam: With this new strength we pressed on until finally at 2:15 AM the last pillar, the last stake, the last pole, and the last piece of furniture was loaded. Without any injuries and without any rain, we were done, and very thankful God had pushed back the rain, for when it came, we wondered how we would have been able to work in such a ferocious torrent.
A few days later a group of 16 students arrived to canvass the Cherokee area on fall break. Again, in answer to prayer, the Lord stopped the rain just while they were there.
They found the community very receptive as they were recognized by the OA logo on their shirts and associated it with the Sanctuary exhibit. It seemed the whole community had come out for the tour.
By Julie Shurley