March 7, 2022, an electrical short in an upstairs breaker caused a fire in the Ark of Faith Foundation building (formerly the historic Carnegie Library) in Muskogee. No one was hurt. Muskogee Fire Department responded quickly and effectively. So did area news media. The fire was contained within a few hours; what was not burned was destroyed by smoke and water. The board and advisors are determining next steps, based on prayer, insurance, other funds, and what God says is useful for our community. (Photo courtesy of News on 6 Tulsa Oklahoma)
The devil can try to discourage us and destroy our building, but the Ark of Faith is more than a building. Although closed for indoor services, the ministry continues where it counts – in our hearts, in our community. While volunteer crews work to clear debris, the community offers financial and facility support, and the Ark’s all-volunteer staff continues to deliver donated meals and clothing, hygiene kits, and such to locals who are elderly or homeless. As our kitchen manager, Ann Roberson said to News On 6, “You don’t need a building to serve meals to people who are homeless, you just need food, and you can do that anywhere!”
So, we continue as God intends us to do. We are encouraged by all of you who have called to donate funds, skilled and unskilled work, comfort, prayers, and help as we plan for resuming operations. Just as in other “calamities” you are supporting us. We will honor you on April 10 (see page 2). Not one person has called saying, “Too bad it’s all over for the Ark!”
As children, we learn the Bible story of Joseph whose brothers sold him into slavery, He landed in prison but rose to manage all the wealth of Pharoah. When his brothers came to ask for help during famine, Joseph was able to forgive them, saying: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)
The Ark of Faith’s ministries are to accomplish the purposes of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, welcoming people, tending the sick, and visiting the prisoners in Matthew 25:35-39. When the disciples wondered when they’d done so, Jesus said in v. 40: ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “
We use all our talents to fulfill this mission. Our community, volunteers, and participants sing, sign, play instruments, draw, paint, craft, compose, write, dance, record, do accounting, teach, fix plumbing, provide technical expertise, visit the sick, cook, sweep floors, clean toilets, pray about and for requests, minister in hospitals and prisons, supervise pre-release candidates, and more. We donate – time, money, and materials – and not just to the Ark. We support other ministries just as other ministries support us. No Ark board or staff member receives pay. We serve to serve Jesus.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12) This same scripture comforted me when my 12-year-old son was burned in 1972 and again, when our home burned on Christmas Eve 1974.
A few years later, in our living room, the Ark of Faith Foundation launched Sharing Ministries radio show to encourage and develop area Christian performing artists. Another couple of years and we were offering the Lamplighter Coffeehouse in the basement of the Bacon College chapel to provide a local entertainment alternative to bars and nightclubs for area Christians. By 1981 the businessmen who’d bought the old Muskogee Carnegie library building for an office, donated it to the Ark of Faith – the rest, as They say, is (our) history. I am not surprised by or fearful of the test ahead.
We are called to be peacemakers, to be spiritually prosperous and filled with joy and satisfaction regardless of outward conditions. We can do this because the Holy Spirit is helping us. Our community is helping us. YOU are helping us.