Jimmy "Duke" Williams is pastor of the Dorris Heights Equality Full Gospel Church, 924 Cedar St., Harrisburg.
His story brings to mind the Biblical figure Job. Duke has had his share of tribulations in the past two years.
He lost his church building and his home to the flood of 2011 in Equality.
The flood waters rose so high that at one point he entered his former church sanctuary in a small john boat with another member of the congregation. They found they had lost everything to the mud and water except the piano, the public address system and 12 song books.
Later he visited his Equality home in a bass boat and found that he had lost 98 percent of his belongings.
"At the time I could not understand. I could not see the future blessings. I could not see God's plan. It took me a couple of weeks to get back my optimism," Duke said.
He and his wife were staying with friends in Eldorado when he picked up a real estate publication and read it just to kill time. He went to bed. The next day he picked up the publication again and there in the middle of the page was an ad for a church building for sale in Harrisburg. He had overlooked it the day before. It seemed ideal for a small congregation and Duke started feeling hope again.
He presented the idea of buying the church to his small congregation of about 20 members. They were in favor of it, willing to drive the extra 15 minutes to Harrisburg, but did not know how they would raise the money.
A few days later an offer to buy the flooded church came in to Duke by telephone.
A buyer asked if he would sell the flooded church. Duke asked for $35,000 for the old church and the buyer said he would get back to him. The next day the buyer agreed to pay $34,000 and so the plan to buy the Harrisburg church had funding. Duke and his congregation sold the old church and bought the "new" church for under $25,000. That gave them money for the inevitable extra expenses. The Harrisburg church is located in Dorris Heights at the intersection of Grape and Cedar streets. After much consideration the congregation agreed to name it Dorris Heights Equality Full Gospel Church.
Once in the building they found that with the growth they were experiencing the church was too small to meet all their needs, especially the children's ministries.
So, counting on the Lord to supply, they drew up plans for an additional building behind the sanctuary.
The congregation is so welcoming and friendly that it has grown to include more than 50 members. Their faith is what sustains them according to Duke.
Page 2 of 2 - After negotiating with banks they broke ground for the new building and it is framed out and under construction at the present time.
The new building will house a multi-purpose room, a kitchen, classrooms for the children and restrooms and an office for the pastor, who, like Job, remained faithful to God.