Large donation will allow Cowley church to finish building

By David Peck

For Water of Life Church pastor Johannes Slabbert, the news he received last week was an answer to prayer.

The church in Cowley is in the process of erecting a new building just north of the middle school/high school, and after a church raising performed by the volunteer Church Building Ministries, Inc., of Summit, Mississippi, last summer, the skyrocketing cost of materials set the project back, although some welcome donations got the church out of the red, Slabbert said.

The 4,000-square-foot building is all framed in and enclosed and now needs electrical and drywall work, Slabbert said, and while individuals and churches around the country raised about $130,000 for the construction account, allowing planning for HVAC, plumbing and electrical work to proceed, followed by drywall, the church was still in need of around $100,000 to finish the project.

“The whole building has been built on faith,” Slabbert said. “People keep asking when we are going to finish, but our goal is to not put the church in debt.”

Slabbert attended a prayer event at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida, in late January, having developed a relationship with the church through his sister-in-law, who is a member. He calls the church “a partner of ours in the Gospel.”

Representatives of new churches in Cowley, Vermont and Colorado were asked to give a presentation, and Slabbert said he was introduced to Olive’s associate pastor, Shaun Pillay, who, like Slabbert, is from South Africa.

“On stage I shared about our ministry and shared a prayer request that we need funds to finish it out,” Slabbert said of the Water of Life construction project.

A week later, the Olive Church asked Slabbert to submit a video that could be shown to the congregation about the Cowley congregation’s ministry and need for funds, and Slabbert noted that he has prayed for Olive’s pastor, Dr. Ted Traylor, along with other pastors around the country.

Slabbert then received a call from Olive’s director of administration, Jeremy Portman, who wanted to know just how much Water of Life needed to complete the church building. Slabbert confirmed that $100,000 was needed.

About two or three weeks went by, and then Pastor Pillay texted Slabbert to set up a Zoom conference with Pastor Traylor on February 15.

During that Zoom call, Slabbert said, Pastor Traylor told him some people in the church and the church administration came forward to help and that “I have in my hand a check for $100,000 so you can finish the building.”

“I didn’t know what to say,” Slabbert said. “I just said, ‘Wow! The faithfulness of God.’ When you walk the road of support-raised ministry, it’s a faith step every step of the way. We’ve been working on this for three years. I didn’t know when we’d get $100,000. That told me it’s the faithfulness of God.

“Cowley is relatively small, and we’re the only evangelical church in town. I sometimes feel isolated and lonely. But I realize how big God is and how people care about the Gospel. We’re not in this alone.

“I got off the call and couldn’t walk a step without getting on my knees and thanking God. I couldn’t do anything without Him. From being bottomed out in August, when we should have been in the red, from August to February we received about $230,000 (including earlier donations).”

Slabbert received the check this week and deposited the money Tuesday – a prayer answered.