New Life Church had its beginning in April of 1981. New Life Church was the result of God moving on a man by the name of Lester Hall, who had been a minister for twenty-one years with the Church of God, whose headquarters were located in Cleveland, Tennessee.
Pastor Hall came to know the Lord at the age of eighteen and had a deep longing to know God and to share that knowledge with the children of God. As a young man, Pastor Hall would spend days and nights in studying and seeking God to know Him in the depths of His truth. Fasting was a regular part of his lifestyle. On two separate occasions, God allowed angel visitations where God’s message was special and personal to Him.
Pastor Hall, while in the Church of God, founded numerous churches in different parts of the United States. As one of the twelve counselors of the organization and the Apostle to the Jews, he traveled to Israel doing business on the behalf of the church. The last few years of his service with the Church of God were as a field representative. The church furnished him a private plane with which to look after the churches.
However, in 1980-81, God spoke telling Pastor Hall that He was calling him out for the purpose of beginning a new ministry. It was with sadness of heart and apprehension that Pastor Hall resigned his post and moved from Marietta, Georgia to Montana to start what is now New Life Church. There were approximately eleven people in Billings that had also withdrawn their membership from the Church of God. There was Pastor Ken Kaiser and his wife Debe, Virgil and Audrey Sharbono, Gilbert and Ruth Sharbono, Lillian Dykes, the Pennings, and Everett and Viola Mitchell. After much prayer and discussion, the decision was made, and New Life Church was born.
Pastor Hall went to work by establishing a Board of Directors. This board consisted of Pastor Hall, Pastor Kaiser, Everett Mitchell, Virgil Sharbono, and JR Hall. In just a matter of weeks, Pastor Hall had the proper paperwork done recognizing New Life Church as a legal corporation in the state of Montana.
All the years that Pastor Hall had been affiliated with the Church of God, it was necessary that he work at a secular job due to the financial structure of headquarters. However, when Pastor Hall resigned and moved to Montana, on his way out from Georgia, God spoke to him and instructed him that he was not to seek secular employment any longer, but to put his trust totally in the Lord and do only His work and that He would take care of his financial needs.
Pastor Hall had a wife and four children. His total income was around $200.00 per month. The house that was rented for Pastor Hall was $400.00 per month. However, Pastor Hall took God at His word. Times were hard and very difficult, but never once did God fail to meet their needs. The small church began to grow little by little. Shortly after Pastor Hall arrived, he began to share his vision of God moving us from the south side of Billings to where we are presently located on the southwest side of Billings. Pastor Hall soon sold his home in Georgia and built a house on one of the three acres now owned by New Life Church. He constructed his home in such a way as to accommodate church services in the lower level.
A few years before this happened, God had given a young woman a vision of an artesian well being in Pastor Hall’s home and people coming from all around to drink of that fresh living water. Well, we saw that come to pass. Eighty-nine people packed into his home where God saved, healed, and filled with His Holy Spirit. This lasted for about ten months. During this time, God provided the opportunity to purchase an acre of ground up from his home. There, with very little money, Pastor Hall began working on what is our present church building.
Pastor Hall recalls the ground breaking with eighteen people present. The building would be a 60 x 60, and God was with us. It was one miracle after the other. Time and space don’t allow for the telling of all the great things that God did. Pastor was talking to the Board at one point about borrowing the money to build the church; and God, later when he was in prayer, spoke to him and said, “don’t borrow the money. You build the building, and I’ll supply the needs. Do it my way and I’ll pay; do it your way and you pay.” Needless to say what happened, God met every need, not one dime was borrowed in the building of the church.
As the church building went up, so our congregation grew right along with it. Pastor Hall not only pastored the church, but also like Nehemiah, had his sword in one hand and hammer in the other. He was general contractor and along with the help of his family and, most of all, his wife Jewel, who was always there being a wife, mother, pastor’s wife, and gofer. Whatever the need was, she would go for it. Matt, Mark, Angie, and Carla helped more than some will ever know, especially Matt and Mark. Then there was the help and support that we received from Pastor Ken and Debe. God only knows how much it meant to the accomplishment of New Life Church. The list of men and women who worked and labored willingly is too long to list, and I know some would be overlooked. However, without these unlisted soldiers of Christ, New Life Church would not be. The many businesses and friends of the church literally saved us thousands of dollars. For them, to God we give the glory. What an exciting time it was watching God perform one miracle after the other.
Approximately two years after the church was completed, God spoke to Pastor Hall about the need of a Christian School. Needless to say, this was somewhat shocking. We were where we were five years earlier, no money but a commission to build a place for Christian education. Pastor Hall, once again moved by God, stepped out by faith; and in two years a 90 x 90 two story building with a full regulation size gym was up and running. A building that was estimated by the Building Department at $440,000.00 was totally completed, and not one penny was ever borrowed. God in his miraculous way always supplied the need.
For a more in depth look into the details of the hand of God at work in the planting of New Life Church, tapes can be obtained. After 12 years we closed the doors of our school, moving forward with God’s plan for our facility. Through the powerful ministry of our Youth Pastors we have seen wonderful growth of our Youth Groups, so we have turned our facilities into what is now our “Youth Center”, which houses, several classrooms, game room, library and a full sized “Coffee Shop”, and we continue to utilize our gymnasium for various activities.