By Philip Timothy, Message Staff Writer
WALKER – Months ahead of schedule and coming in under budget, the construction of Victory Baptist Church in Walker, a three-year-old church plant, is on a record-setting pace.
“I’m am just blown away at how quickly this project has come together,” said Jeff Woodrich, Mission Builder and Campers on Mission Strategist for the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
The slab was poured in late December, but the Baptist Builders did not begin framing on the 12,000 square-foot, multi-use facility until the second week in January.
Amazingly, the project is within weeks of completion, just three and a half months after work commenced, and months ahead of schedule.
“Right now, Steve [project coordinator Steve Hayes] is doing some touch up work. The weather slowed us down a little (couldn’t pour concrete), but I am meeting with the inspectors this week,” Woodrich said. “So, we are close, really, really close.”
Like Woodrich, Hayes has also been amazed at how fast everything has come together on the project.
“The Lord has truly blessed us. We have had Campers on Mission from Illinois, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee and Louisiana, not to mention volunteers from churches all over the state. In fact, we had over 100 volunteers when we started in January.
“I don’t believe I have ever had this many volunteers for a project,” Hayes said. “Lord, I really don’t know how many, I just know we have had hundreds. God has just sent different groups at the right time.”
Woodrich and Hayes, though, are not the only ones amazed at the record-setting pace.
“We had an actual contractor come to volunteer, and he told me it would take him 12 months to complete this project with paid labor,” Hayes said. “Of course, he doesn’t have God working miracles.”
Founding Pastor Fred Dyess, who came out of retirement in September of 2008 to plant the church, agrees, “You can definitely see the hand of God in this project.”
Dyess, who served as a full-time pastor for more than 30 years at churches in Dry Prong, Krotz Springs, Baton Rouge and finally First Houma, led churches in extensive evangelism and building efforts.
But Victory was the first church he had pastored that did not have a building.
“It has taken some getting use to. We started in my home with 12 people three years ago,” said Dyess, who retired in 2004 from the Louisiana Baptist Convention as the Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. “Today, 75 to 100 people gather in the cafe-teria of a local school for Sunday worship, but we still meet in my home on Wednesdays.
“The children meet in the master bedroom, the adults in the living room and the youth on the back porch,” Dyess said. “Every Sunday, we must move our stuff in and move it after services. We have a large trailer in which we store all of our equipment. A used motor home that we purchased serves as a nursery.
“So you can just imagine how excited I am to see our building finished,” Dyess said.
When finished, the building will have a 225-seat sanctuary, seven classrooms, and a fellowship hall. Dyess said he will probably hang on to the motor home.
“This area is experiencing tremendous population growth,” Dyess said. “Ascension is one of the fastest growing areas in the state and they are expecting a 40 percent growth in the population in the next 10 years.
“We built this facility with that growth in mind,” Dyess said. “And if we need to expand in a couple of years we have enough land [14 acres] to do so.
“To often mission churches get started on two to three acres. Before long they grow enough that they need to expand,” Dyess said. “But they get hemmed in. We didn’t want that to happen here.”
The land, which is debt free, was purchased by Victory members shortly after they began meeting for $218,000.
“The bank turned us down the first time we tried to get a loan. We waited, saved and when we went back, we secured the loan.
“We borrowed the money on a 10-year payout and paid it off in two,” Dyess said. “We launched out in faith and God rained down his blessings.
“He has provided in every aspect, and because of the blessings He has heaped on this church, we will have a facility capable of reaching a large group of people,” Dyess said.