Pastor Harry Jackson founded the church in 1974 (then named The Baptist Temple), coming to the northern suburbs of Chicago with his wife and three boys from Rochester, New York, with a burden to begin an independent and Biblically-separated Baptist church that would reach lost souls and disciple them in the fundamental doctrines of God’s Word.
Pastor Jackson knocked doors to reach people with the gospel and an invitation to visit the church. The church initially rented space on Sundays in the Greenbriar School in Northbrook. In 1975, the Baptist Temple rented the Park District recreation building in Northbrook. The makeshift auditorium and nursery had to be cleaned and set up for every service. The church ran a bus route, even in its early stages of existence.
Pastor Jackson realized the need for a more permanent location. The people began to pray, and the men began to search for properties in the area. At last, in 1976, a huge home on about 4 acres of land was found for sale in the wealthy suburb of Riverwoods. The large, spacious rooms would serve sufficiently for their current ministry needs.
In 1978, Pastor Larry Waye accepted the call to lead the church. He started a one-room ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) School for the children. An additional bus route was added, and through soulwinning, the Lord blessed and the auditorium became too small for the Sunday crowd.
There was soon a need for more space. By faith, the church put its “house” up for sale and rented a large, vacant high school (Gregory School) in Mt. Prospect. The church would have loved to purchase it, but the price tag of $600,000 seemed so astronomical to the still small congregation. Unfortunately, the building was sold to another church, and The Baptist Temple moved into another vacated high school property just a couple miles away, on Lonnquist Boulevard. Pastor Waye changed the name of the church to the Northwest Bible Baptist Church.
The church had its main Sunday morning preaching service in the school’s gymnasium, although Sunday and Wednesday evening services were moved to a smaller meeting area. With the church struggling, Pastor Waye resigned in early 1982. Lacking a man of God to immediately take over the helm at this critical time, the church’s finances suffered. Ministries suffered, and the remaining folks’ attention became concentrated on church survival rather than soulwinning growth.
The Lord had something more in store for this church. During these dark days, He began working in the heart of the man of God who would soon come to be the pastor. While men of the church took turns preaching as the Pulpit Committee did its work, a Bible college senior by the name of Keith Gomez had been invited to fill the pulpit for one Sunday. His preaching was dynamic and refreshing to the people, and his leadership style was evident. He was asked to come preach again and again. For seven weeks, he filled the pulpit. Although the Pulpit Committee had been searching for and interviewing candidates all during this time, it became obvious that the church did not need to look elsewhere to bring someone in — God had sent His man to the church! On the seventh week, the church called him to be their pastor. He yielded to the will of God, and accepted the call immediately, but officially becoming “full-time” pastor of the church after his graduation from Hyles-Anderson College in May of 1982.
The visionary young preacher rallied the small remaining flock of the then-struggling church and they began to grow once again.
In 1985, the School District put up for sale the high school building being rented by the church. Unable to come close to the highest bid and unable to find and finance another suitable location, the church was within days of being without a home when the Lord opened the door to an existing building in Prospect Heights which had just been vacated by another church. The $600,000 purchase price still seemed out of reach, but through a special seller-financed graduated mortgage agreement, Northwest Bible Baptist Church was able to carry the initial payments through a sacrificial “Vision Unlimited” giving program on the part of its people—and rely on the Lord, by faith, to allow them to meet the much higher payments that would be called for in the future.
During the first decade of Northwest Bible Baptist Church’s life, it had met in houses and rented schools in three different suburbs. Finally, because of the people’s sacrificial giving to Vision Unlimited—where everyone could give something—the congregation was moving into its own real church building for the first time.
NBBC grew from thirty-one members in 1982 to a high day of 1,031 only five years later. And on the 10th-year anniversary of Pastor Gomez’ ministry, God gave the increase with a record-setting attendance of 2,281 on a Big Day!
By 1995, Northwest Bible Baptist Church had far outgrown the building in Prospect Heights. Unable to expand on that small site of only three acres, God led Pastor Gomez and the large congregation in a miraculous relocation thirty-two miles west, to the far northwest Elgin area. This property was home to a new 45,000 square foot church campus (still with Vision Unlimited funds paying the way).
While waiting on the new building to be finished, services were held at different locations—from local high schools to other area churches. Finally, in the summer of 1996, the new building on Nesler Road was completed. Through the years, Northwest Bible Baptist Church has continued to use this God-given facility to reach the lost for Christ. The hand of God has been evident by allowing NBBC to improve the property in many ways. A bus and storage barn was built in 2002. Twenty-six acres adjacent to the church property was purchased in 2002 for $750,000, which gives great opportunity for expansion in the future. Two large picnic pavilions were constructed in 2008, providing much needed shelter for outdoor fellowships. In 2013, Northwest Bible Baptist Church crossed the threshold of a major milestone; the retirement of the church mortgage. Through the sacrificial giving of God’s people, the deed for the property on Nesler Road finally belonged to Northwest Bible Baptist Church! Since then, many continual upgrades to the buildings and properties have been made to the glory of God, the most recent being the foyer expansion.
In January of 2018, plans were made to fulfill a vision that Pastor Gomez had for several years. The crowded foyer that had served the needs of the church for 23 years was expanded to provide actual areas for fellowship to include a fireplace and grand piano, as well as a coffee station. Additional office space, an expanded nursery, doubling the size of the ladies’ restroom, adding a family restroom, and a renovated bookstore were also a part of the project. To cap it off, a stunning cross was added to the peak of the new building. It was finished just in time for Providence Baptist College graduation on May 10, 2019, with a formal grand opening ceremony held on May 12 for all the church members to enjoy.
When Pastor Gomez accepted the pastorate of Northwest Bible Baptist Church, he instituted a ministry called the “Family Bible Institute”. Then, in the fall 1987, in response to the interest being generated by people from outside of Northwest Bible Baptist Church, the name was changed to Northwest Baptist Institute. During the years to follow, formal plans were made which would start laying the groundwork for a future four-year Bible college.
As the construction of the church’s Elgin campus took place, a watchful eye was kept in order to lay out the structure which would also house a four-year Bible college. After the new church building was occupied, and after years of planning and preparation, the doors to Providence Baptist College were opened on August 24, 1998.
Then, in October of 1999, knowing that the church campus would not be able to house the college long-term, Northwest Bible Baptist Church purchased 15 acres at the intersection of Route 47, McDonald Road, and Burlington Road for $197,000. The plan for this property was to erect a building which could house the dormitories, classrooms, and offices of the growing college. With much opposition from area residents and from the Kane County Board, the church paused its plans for this property as God led Pastor Gomez to seek an existing building which could house the college. Despite the inability to use this property for the Lord’s work, Northwest Bible Baptist Church was able to sell the property in May of 2003 for $374,000, a $177,000 profit.
In September 2001, because of three years of steady growth, the decision was made to purchase a Ramada Inn in McHenry, IL for $2,650,000 to house the growing student body. This building provided needed dormitories, kitchen, dining room, classroom, and office space. For three years, this building served the needs of the college. However, because of an influx of students, Providence Baptist College required more space.
To accommodate the continued growth of the college, a Best Western Hotel in Elgin, IL was purchased in September of 2004 for $4,260,000 and the McHenry campus was sold for $2,950,000. By November, minor renovation of the Elgin facility had been completed. Seventy van, truck, and trailer loads later, having missed only three days of classes, the fall semester resumed at the new Elgin campus. Then, in 2016, Northwest Bible Baptist Church was able to retire the mortgage of the River Road campus, making the church debt free for the first time in 42 years! This building continues to serve the needs of Providence Baptist College and to serve as its base from which young people are sent out to serve the Lord.
In early 2009, Northwest Bible Baptist Church was afforded the opportunity to purchase the property of Cedar River Baptist Camp for $343,000, a property in which the church had already invested great sums in the past. After purchasing the property in March 2009, major renovations were immediately required to ready the property for 10 weeks of camps starting in June.
Over the years, the property continued to develop and expand as air conditioning and windows were installed in the chapel, two pavilions and a concessions building were erected, eleven family-style cabins and two barns were built, and all other buildings were remodeled.
Over ten seasons, Cedar River Baptist Camp saw an estimated 300 saved and 15,000 other decisions made by campers from across the country.
While Cedar River Baptist Camp provided the necessary space to hold summer camps, it’s proximity to Elgin and small areas of “buildable” space were definite limitations. When a lead regarding a “Boy Scouts of America” property in Rochelle, Illinois was brought to our attention, the church began to pray and seek more information. Through the vision of Pastor Gomez and a series of miracles, this 517 acre property was purchased in the fall of 2018 for $2,550,000. Situated around a 16 acre lake and nestled against a stretch of the Kyte River, this massive property has unlimited opportunity.
After moving six semi-truck load’s worth of equipment 150 miles from Cedar River Baptist Camp, repurposing two picnic pavilions into boy’s dormitories, building a temporary kitchen, and turning a barn into a dining hall and chapel, Kyte River Revival Campgrounds was operational for the summer 2019 season.
The largely undeveloped land of Kyte River Revival Campgrounds serves as a blank canvas on which the vision of Northwest Bible Baptist Church can be painted in the future. The initial stages of this vision include the dining hall that is currently being constructed. This building has a large dining area, a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen, bathrooms, offices, supplemental chapel space, and a 2,500 ft2 porch overlooking the lake. This building valued at $1.2 million, but being built for only $538,000, will be open for use in the 2020 season! In addition, blueprints for ladies’ dormitory bathrooms have been submitted, and construction will begin upon their approval, further improving the property.
Less than 1 hour from the church, we can see God’s hand as he has directed our camp ministry from 53 acres in Iowa to the 517 acres that we plan to enjoy for years to come.