Tommy Thompson Bio 13 New Developments

CHAPTER 13

New Developments

Back in Anchorage, the growing city was widening Northern Lights Boulevard and took 10 feet off our front parking lot. What was once just a dusty road at the edge of town had become an important east-west thoroughfare as the city expanded southward. When a car knocked down a girl crossing the road to attend our gospel meeting, we wondered what to do next.

Some months earlier, I had been offered land several miles south of the dty in an undeveloped subdivision called Parkway Estates. I used some building maintenance savings to buy it for the Assembly. The seller also offered me a smaller plot adjacent to ii; if we bought the lot. God had set the land before us, and we paid for it.

I drew up plans for a new building and began preparing the ground for the foundation. We sold the old hail to a printing company, so we had now $50,000 to build the new hall. I went to the cement block company to get cost estimates for materials to build the walls. “Is this for a church building?” the manager asked. When I said yes, he took me to see Mr. Frank who was administrating a federally-funded programme which was teaching Alaska natives to learn a trade of cement block laying. Mr Frank said, “Mr. Thompson, if you agree, our crew of students will do all the block-laying work for free. You see, I’m tired of using the same 100 blocks to teach the students. I’ll supervise the block-building on your church.”

Not surprisingly, Mr. Frank turned out to be a Christian from Washington, D.C. on temporary duty. Under his tutelage and guidance. the native bricklaying students did a lovely job in a short time. I supervised and worked with some of the believers on all the other construction details. Vern Picket flew up from Arlington to do all the electrical work. Soon the assembly moved into Parkway Estates Gospel Hall, debt free.

My good friend, Carl Rylander, the contractor, helped me make some beautiful, upholstered pews out of lovely birch wood. We saw the Lord’s hand of blessing in this place. The work prospered and souls were saved and even some restored.

I was having health problems and the Lord used this to send us back to South Africa shortly after moving into the new hail. We laboured in Cape Town and various other places for nearly two years. In 1972, I felt so much better due to the warm climate and decided to go back to Alaska.

On our return I was able to build a house on the plot next to the Gospel Hall which had been promised by the seller. Again it was another labour of love and soon we moved into a nice home with four bedrooms.

Less than 10 years after opening the doors of Parkway Estates Gospel Hall, the city of Anchorage grew to take in Parkway Estates and re-zoned it for light industrial use. The assembly was forced to make another move.

I went to see our old friend and former neighbor John Henry Graham who was a land developer. He had made a lot of money in real estate, so I went to inquire whether he had any land suitable for another Gospel Hall.

At that time, John Henry had no plots zoned for a church building. “But, you will need a plot of land personally, too, won’t you?” he asked. When I said yes he offered me the plot next to his own house.

He and his wife, Norah, now lived in south Anchorage in a subdivision he had developed called Oceanview. Norah told her husband that she wanted the Thompsons to live next to them. John Henry actually handed me title to the plot of land next to his home, without payment.

We started building our house and had wonderful help from Vern and Helen Pickett, who along with their son Lawrence moved to Alaska from the state of Washington to help. Carl Rylander and several other friends helped, too.

Mr. Graham told us to take whatever lumber we needed from where he stored it next to his house. “When you finish, we will settle the cost,” he said. So meticulously, I kept track of every piece of John Henry’s lumber that was used. When we were finished with the house, I went over to his office with the book in which I had recorded the materials. When I asked him to tell me how much I needed to pay to settle the cost of materials, he just laughed. “Are you stupid?” he asked. I was mystified at that response. So I pressed him again and asked him to tell me, based on my careful records, how much I owed him. He just seemed unconcerned and non-committal. I did not know what to make of his attitude. He told me he was busy, took a telephone call and waved me out of his office. I left his office without an answer, feeling rather perturbed.

The answer came later when John Henry and Norah told me that some friends of mine had asked me to get them land in Oceanview. Through my referral, John Henry had sold it to them directly, without going through a real estate agent. It was an expensive piece of land and what John Henry pocketed on the transaction was significant. “Your lumber is already paid,” John Henry declared.

Finally, John Henry called to tell me he had a piece of land on Dimond Boulevard which we could have for a church building.

Once again, he handed me the title deeds without any money changing hands. We took the proceeds from the sale of the Parkway Estates Gospel Hall and applied it towards construction of Dimond Boulevard Gospel Hall. Many hands worked on the new building, and the assembly began meeting there in 1978. God’s ways are beyond comprehension. I know now what Mr. Alfred Cuff meant when he wrote to me these words, “Faith is always tried, but never disappointed.”

Norah attended gospel meetings in the new hall and was saved. Emphysema ended her life a short while after this. John Henry asked me to take her funeral. I faithfully witnessed to John, even up to two days before he died. He left no testimony of being saved, but God knows and we leave this to Him. John’s will showed I was to take his funeral service in the Gospel Hall! I conducted his funeral in the Dimond Boulevard Gospel Hall and many prominent civic leaders attended, including the governor of Alaska, and mayor and senators of Anchorage. The gospel was clearly preached at John Henry’s funeral.