Our old church hall had been standing in place for close to 100 years. Once a place of honour, now it sat abandoned and dilapidated, a faded echo of its vibrant past. There were rumours that the only thing holding the hall together were the termites holding hands.
Rusty sheets of roof iron and blistered weatherboards highlighted years of neglect, as the church pursued plans to knock down the old hall and build a replacement.
For decades our Wellington based church had a vision for a much bigger hall to sit alongside their main church building and meet their growing needs.
But at every step the efforts had been fraught by objections from neighbours about the size and design of the new hall and the effect on their surrounding properties.
With the old hall now being a health and safety risk and uninhabitable, time had run out.
After countless years of faithful prayer, including all night prayer sessions and the receiving of many encouraging prophetic words, it had still not resulted in the promised breakthrough and greenlight to demolish the old hall and rebuild.
To counter neighbourhood objections the church had invested considerable time and money coming up with a new plan that was less intrusive on the neighbours, but still the objections remained.
As our home group sat down to pray one night, we focussed our efforts on the problem of the hall.
As we prayed I was reminded of Joshua’s strategy in conquering the city of Jericho.
Feeling a nudge from God I suggested to our home group that we drive over to the old hall that night and march around the hall seven times.
I wondered what the reaction would be and to my surprise everybody was excited about the prospect. That night was going to be a home group with a difference.
With a sense of expectancy we hopped in our cars and made our way to the old hall. On arrival we organised ourselves into a team and marched in an orderly fashion around the old hall.
We laughed, we danced and we sang and praised the Lord as we lapped the hall. After the seventh lap we let out a huge shout to the Lord.
Joshua chapter 6, verse 20
“When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.”
Anybody watching from the street would have thought we were completely mad, but as we finished our mission we felt a sense of breakthrough. Something had moved in the spirit.
A few weeks later we got word that the resource consent for the hall had finally been granted and the neighbours objections mitigated.
With the greenlight some sacred parts of the old hall, including a stain glass window, were carefully removed so they could be incorporated into the new building as a reminder of the past.
The construction of the new hall could begin.
Did our marching around the hall and shout to the Lord make a difference?
Was it the straw that broke the camel’s back?
I can never be sure, but I know that shortly after the new hall was completed there was a massive earthquake in Wellington.
The destruction from the earthquake meant the main church, where services were held, could no longer be used. The brick church building was now a serious earthquake risk.
Today the new hall is the place where the services are held and the brick church lies dormant awaiting funds for earthquake strengthening.
God’s timing was perfect.
And this story is a reminder when I am faced with an obstacle in my life, instead of continuing with the same old same old, perhaps I need to turn to God for a new strategy.
If God can give Joshua a unique strategy to conquer Jericho, he can give me a fresh strategy to knock down the walls in my life.
Wayne Graham worked in the media for more than 30 years before leaving to follow a call to set up The Daily Encourager, a values based media showcasing the best of New Zealand society. He has a passion for Jesus, enjoys walking, ball sports, the arts and song writing.