By STEVEN NALLEY
At the House of Yahweh Church on 16th Section Road in Oktibbeha County, there are copies both at the entrance and near the altar of a picture called “Step Out In Faith,” painted by Kevin Williams.
The picture depicts a blindfolded man suspending one foot off a cliff above raging waters. Behind him are indigo thunderclouds; ahead of him is sunlight bursting through golden clouds. Veiled in the latter clouds and the waves below is a translucent hand, ready to catch the man. Dwayne Fulton, pastor at House of Yahweh, said he found the picture in Tupelo and thought it captured the church’s journey.
“He’s walking by faith,” Fulton said. “He’s blindfolded and he’s stepping off that cliff, but Jesus’ hand is right there to catch him. We truly were doing that — walking by faith.”
About a week ago, Fulton was surprised to discover the mortgage on the House of Yahweh’s church facility was paid in full, a benchmark he said the church did not expect to reach until 2016.
The church of about 50 members will celebrate its 13th anniversary in January, Fulton said, and the bank he has worked with for the mortgage, Cadence Bank, has told him to expect the deed for the church that same month. He said the church has always relied on tithes and collections at church services to make payments.
“That’s all we believe in,” Fulton said. “We don’t take up extra offers.”
Fulton said he discovered the mortgage had been paid when correspondence from Cadence did not come as scheduled.
“We (were) waiting on our church note,” Fulton said. “We always paid on time and were never late. My wife, she went to check on it. The guy at the bank told her that we (weren’t) late, and we (weren’t) behind, but they could only talk to me.”
Fulton said he immediately asked about the missed note when he got the Cadence representative, Mike Cayson, on the phone.
“He said, ‘Well, Mr. Fulton, I’m proud to tell you that the church has been paid off. Y’all don’t owe anything. You’ve been paid in full,’” Fulton said. “I said, “Paid off?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘It’s a blessing.’ I just started praising God.”
Fulton said he did not expect the mortgage to be paid off until 2016, leading him to believe someone else had paid the rest of the loan, perhaps anonymously. However, Cayson said he and other Cadence staff have investigated the mortgage thoroughly and found no evidence of such a transaction.
“I really don’t see anything unusual in that account,” Cayson said. “It has been paid off, but under normal circumstances.”
Fulton said the payment of the mortgage puts the church in a good position to begin thinking about its future. He said he is already planning to obtain new land and build a new, larger facility within the next two or three years, turning the current facility into a day care.
“Right now, if something happened, say, God forbid, a funeral, we don’t have the room for funerals and things like that,” Fulton said. “The vision is, I see a lot of people coming in, and I want to build for the harvest.”
Terika Brooks, a 19-year-old who has been part of the church since she was 6, said the payment of the church’s mortgage has opened doors to a brighter future. She said Fulton announced the mortgage was paid off at the Sunday service on Dec. 18, and it was cause for great celebration.
“As soon as the words left his lips, everybody just was so happy and excited,” Brooks said. “It was a whole different atmosphere. I cried — a lot of people cried. It was like a miracle, something we had been waiting on for a long time.”