“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28 NLT)
Disaster in the dark
While it was still dark Palm Sunday morning, New Tribe Church Pastor Jarod Smith got the kind of phone call no leader wants to receive. He tells us a church elder, who works for the city of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, said, “’Pastor, hate to tell you this,’ he goes, ‘there’s water that has broken through the front glass of the church building.’ And I thought, man what are we going to do? I got in the car, drove up there,” and the pastor found more than three-feet of water in the building. “It was devastating. It was a complete loss, and hardly anything was salvageable ... Everything that was 3-feet or below was just floating.”
Realizing the building still had electricity, which he actually thought was unusual, he discovered one video camera was unharmed and the wi-fi system still functioned. So Pastor Jarod got word out to church members that the Palm Sunday service would go on, only livestreamed online.
Pandemic, now a flood, cannot prevent the church from meeting…somehow
When it was time for the service to begin, “I put on water boots, by that time the water had gone down about a foot…kinda marched in the water…had a few people sitting there on stools and just preached a livestream message.” The topic he had already planned seemed to fit very well for the circumstances that morning. It was “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. And basically, the message was - don’t allow trials to steal your Hosanna.” New Tribe Church was now living one of those trials! And they refused to lose their Hosanna.
By the way, I asked Pastor Jarod if he was afraid of being electrocuted wading through the flood water to do the livestream with the electricity still powered up. He responded with a sincere chuckle and said, “You know, I never really thought about that. The water came in so fast and it went down just as fast as it came in.”
Having gone through many challenges during the pandemic, “One thing that we really learned about ourselves, and we were really faithful about was, ‘you know what, we’re not going to forsake the assembly of ourselves, we’re going to gather somehow, some way’…and so, that resilience came through the pandemic, I believe, of finding creative ways to meet.”
“So there was a determination that was built into our DNA throughout that pandemic, so when Palm Sunday hit, it was almost like an instinct we had developed during the past year.”
An amazing Easter
A week later when Easter arrived, New Tribe had been given permission to hold an outdoor service at the Charlie Daniels Park amphitheater. “It was probably the most incredible Easter service that we’ve had since we launched as a church.” Pastor Jarod acknowledges the outdoor Easter “was something we never would have planned, so we can see how it was God’s plan for us to be there at that time. We had more people in attendance than we’ve ever had in the history of our church.” He is convinced that some who came for Easter worship would not have come to an inside-church setting. One family, who had just moved to Tennessee from California, saw the service at the park, came over, and gave their lives to Jesus. And a couple of services later, both husband and wife were water baptized. “And on Mother’s Day, they dedicated all their children to the Lord.” In hindsight, Pastor Jarod sees, “You kind of go back and you add it all up – like, wow! – sometimes you got to be pushed out so that God can pull others in.”
P.S. In our podcast below, you will hear a great example of Pastor Jarod’s sense of humor as he explains why they’re now also calling New Tribe the “Green Eggs and Ham” church.
Story update - fast forward to July 17:
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