By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
CUMBERLAND CITY — As the crowd gathered at the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes’ campus in Brentwood to celebrate the facility’s newly refinished gym floor on the afternoon of Jan. 13, the basketball court wasn’t the only thing that was gleaming.
So, too, were the faces of many in the crowd as they reflected on the amazing sequence of events that had taken place over the past several months leading up to the dedication service.
“Only God could have orchestrated this,” said Yellow Creek Baptist Church pastor Phillip Chambers.
The details of the remarkable story started to unfold last summer, in the days prior to Vacation Bible School at Yellow Creek Baptist Church in Cumberland City.
For the past several years, the church had dedicated its VBS offering to the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes — and Chambers, the Yellow Creek pastor, wanted that tradition to continue this year. So, he began the process of finding out some of the TBCH’s most pressing needs.
After a series of phone calls, Chambers learned that the TBCH’s Brentwood campus was in need of some updated sports equipment and was also hoping to refurbish its 40-year-old gym floor — a job that was estimated at about $20,000.
During the coming days, Chambers — who was in the process of guiding his church through the early stages of its own building campaign — began seeking estimates for the gym floor, as well as some of the needs for his church’s upcoming project.
And that’s when the story took a miraculous twist.
James Greene, the chairman of deacons at Yellow Creek, had a connection with Larry Finchum, of Finchum Sports Floors, who recently worked on the gym floor at Austin Peay University, which is located about an hour from the church.
So, Chambers soon contacted Finchum, and explained to him that the VBS attendees were planning to raise money to help cover the cost of refurbishing the gym floor.
Shortly into the conversation, Finchum said, “You tell your kids at VBS to just give their money straight to the Children’s Homes. … I’ll do the gym floor for free.”
Chambers was stunned. And he wasn’t convinced he was hearing Finchum correctly.
“Having been in sales, I questioned Larry pretty hard for the next 10 minutes or so to make sure he was completely serious,” said Chambers. “The last thing I wanted to do was to get our kids all pumped up and get TBCH all pumped up — and then have the rug pulled out from under us.”
Soon, though, Chambers realized Finchum wasn’t kidding. “After talking with Larry for a few minutes, I knew he was the real deal — a man of his word,” he said.
Before the conversation ended, Chambers mentioned to Finchum that Yellow Creek Baptist was in the early stages of building a Family Life Center, and added, “I told him he just earned the job for the Yellow Creek Family Life Center,” said Chambers.
Days later, Chambers had the pleasure of sharing the news about the new gym floor with the kids and workers at VBS.
“As you can imagine, Yellow Creek went absolutely nuts that Wednesday night of VBS when I informed them what had happened,” said Chambers. “This has become one of those landmark moments that the Bible talks about. It’s amazing to see how God rewards your faith, and how God blesses just a little bit of faith.”
The church also surpassed its goal of collecting $1,000 in its VBS offering to give to the TBCH for sports equipment.
Months later, a big crowd from Yellow Creek Baptist was in attendance when the new gym floor at the TBCH’s Brentwood campus was officially dedicated on Jan. 13.
“It looks incredible,” said Greg McCoy, president and treasurer of Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes, Inc. “I’m thankful to God for how He leads us to people with the expertise to do what needs to be done. The Lord is faithful!”
During the dedication service, McCoy presented a thank-you plaque to Finchum Sports Floors manager, Lisa Zielinski. The presentation was followed by a time of prayer.
McCoy said he was overwhelmed by the generosity of all those involved.
“It is a blessing beyond description when our TBC churches take a special interest in the lives of children from hard places,” said McCoy. “Yellow Creek Baptist Church has been challenged by their pastor to take a special interest in the ministry of TBCH.
“That church has responded by giving, by visiting, by praying, and by reaching out to others on our behalf. … And the fact that Mr. Finchum was quick to volunteer his company’s services — wow. What a generous investment he has made in our children.”