A fire destroyed the Baptist Collegiate Ministries building at Cumberland University in Lebanon on Sept. 3, but it did not damage the spirit of the people.
I visited the fire scene later that morning. While it was disheartening to see the BCM building destroyed, it was encouraging to see a community rallying together to support the BCM and Wilson County Baptist Association which owns the building.
As I walked to the site I witnessed a circle of people praying. The circle included students and staff of the BCM, the association, and Cumberland University.
Dave Shelley, director of missions for Wilson County Association, was pleased with the response of the university and the community to their tragedy. It was terrific, Shelley noted. “I applaud the fire department, the police, and Cumberland University,” he said.
It was evident that those fighting the fire had a vested interest. Chris Dowell, chief of the Lebanon Fire Department, is a member of Hillcrest Baptist Church, and at least three of the firefighters are former members of the Cumberland BCM. “We wanted to get there and do what we could to get it (the fire) out,” Dowell said. He noted this is a setback for the BCM but “hopefully they will come back strong.”
I witnessed something I had never seen before. As the firefighters were preparing to leave, they gathered together with local Baptists and Darrin Reynolds, student pastor at nearby Immanuel Baptist Church, prayed for them and thanked them for trying to save the BCM facility.
With the support of the Baptist churches in the association, along with community and university involvement, I have no doubt that the BCM will rebuild and come back stronger than ever.
Evan Owens, BCM director at Cumberland, said it well: “It’s just a building. We can keep ministering.”
Pray for the BCM at Cumberland University and Wilson County Baptist Association in the days ahead.