In the early morning hours of December 21, 2001, Pastor Anna Payne of Burtrum watched her husband, Jake, take his very last breath. He had battled bone cancer for several months.
“You don’t even know what to do right away. But my reaction was to get on the floor and start worshipping the Lord. Not because Jake had died, but because I knew I needed to get into the presence of God,” Payne said.
Little did she know at the time the impact her decision would have in the years to come.
That same day one of the pastors that came to support her asked what she was going to do with the church, Brighter Days Family Church (BDFC), she and Jake started in Burtrum two years earlier.
“Out of my spirit I said: ‘All I know is that we’re not going to close the doors.’ At the time, I didn’t know what all that meant,” Payne said.
Following Jake’s death, Payne continued to preach to the congregation in his place. It was only supposed to be temporary until a new pastor came.
But after about four months of praying, it became clear to the congregation and to Payne that she was supposed to be the next pastor. Only, she didn’t like speaking in front of other people and had no desire to teach or to preach.
“But my passion to see people come to Christ and be delivered and set free overrode my insecurities,” she said.
It wasn’t an easy time for Payne. On top of dealing with her own grief for Jake, their children, Bailee, 7, Samuel, 5 and Natalie, 3, were mourning the loss of their father. The congregation grieved the loss of their pastor.
“I definitely felt the pressure of being a single mom of small children that needed you in every way and working through the pain of everybody. But we did it as a church and as a family,” she said.
Since then the ministry has grown in Burtrum. Payne has also traveled to several countries, such as El Salvador and South Africa to preach.
In many ways, BDFC has also been the “training ground” for many congregational members and youth who have been called into ministry elsewhere.
“It’s about spreading the gospel and really be a light for others in a dark world,” Payne said.
Until recently, services at BDFC was held in an historic church building that was built in 1895. The main sanctuary seated about 75 people and didn’t have indoor plumbing.
Instead visitors were guided to use the bathroom facilities at the next door double wide trailer. That was also where the children and youth ministry was held.
One of the challenges, BDFC faced throughout the years was that the building wasn’t able to accommodate many weddings or funerals. As a result, Payne was often asked to facilitate an event at a different location. Any fellowship gatherings were primarily held outside.
“We knew we wanted a new building one day, but it wasn’t on our radar right away,” Payne said.
But in early 2015, Payne and the rest of the BDFC leadership began to look to possibly build a new building. An inspection of the historic church building revealed that it was in dire need of renovation.
The inspection also showed that the building’s foundation needed some work, as well.
“It didn’t make sense to us to pour money into a building that wasn’t allowing us to fully serve the needs of the community,” Payne said.
In August 2015, BDFC acquired a property right off of Highway 28 in Burtrum. It also had a large pole barn.
With the help of volunteers and local contractors, the pole barn was renovated and built to better serve the community. An addition was added on the west side of the pole barn to provide more space, as well.
The main sanctuary seats 140 people. A large fellowship hall was added with a large kitchen next to it. The children’s and youth ministry is held in a different section of the building.
With the opportunity to better accommodate events, Payne said she plans to bring in more guest speakers, to facilitate leadership conferences that will benefit people in the area of business and more.
In celebration of the new building, BDFC welcomes the public to its dedication weekend.
An open house will be held Saturday, April 29, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. with a special service at 6 p.m.
Featured speaker at the special service is author and outreach Pastor Rod Baker Rod Baker Ministries in Tulsa, Okla., and guest ministers Pastor Virginia Velasquez-Heredia with the Nehemiah Foundation in Santa Ana, El Salvador and Pastor Tim Lambert with Joy Christian Center in St. Cloud.
A dedication service will be held Sunday, April 30, at 10 a.m. with a pizza lunch following the service.
Those who plan to attend the pizza lunch are asked to respond by April 16 with their name and number of people attending by emailing [email protected] or by calling (320) 285-7262.