Hacking

In 4 days we hope to open the second campus of Northway Church. Volunteers have pulled out all the stops, working practically around the clock to drywall, paint, wire and clean, transforming a former gym into God’s house. Before this week, I hadn’t been able to spend a lot of time over there — with a gimpy arm, and mostly construction work to be done, I didn’t have much I could do, so I’d been spending most of my time working on network infrastructure to support a second location. This week, however, I finally got a chance to serve at the new campus, and I have been just amazed at what I’ve seen. The scope of the project is overwhelming, to say the least, but the dedication of the people there tops it. Not since Easter at the Pepsi have I been so floored by what God can accomplish through His children when they obey with every ounce of energy they have in them.

The official grand opening isn’t until January, but the goal is to be ready in time to have 4 of our 7 Christmas Eve services in the new campus. To that end I’ve had to be creative in solving some technical problems. We subcontracted a company to run voice and gigabit ethernet cable throughout the building, but they don’t have us on the schedule until well after Christmas. The phone company came in and installed our 3 lines (voice, data, security) but left two of them as raw wires at the breakout box (along with the mess of a hundred other wires that were set up previously). Our church uses a fantastic online database, called FellowshipOne, to handle nursery check-ins (among other things) for the protection of our families and their kids, but obviously we need an Internet connection to make that work. And our media team uses more technology than the starship Enterprise, so trying to pull off a production without a network would be like trying to run a marathon without legs…

I arrived on Monday, thinking that the network and telephone lines were installed. After plugging the modem into every phone jack in the building, and finding out that not a single one of them was hot, I started to realise that I had my work cut out for me. I hit the Dollar General and bought myself a $5 phone, then headed back to the utility room where the raw phone lines were coming in. I found one line with a normal jack in it, and started to set up the DSL modem. I had a dial-tone but I couldn’t get sync, so I called the ISP and found out that my one working line was not the one they were delivering our service to. Enter Jon Bates, Navy Nuclear Engineer and uber geek. We stripped the wire bare on a DSL filter and attached it to my $5 phone to make ourselves a linemans handset, then started jamming the wires into the breakout box until we found a hot connection. Jon held the wires in place while I called my cell phone to find out what number we’d found, and we both sighed in relief when it showed up as the data line. There was an old wallplate in the wall, presumably coming from some old inactive phone line, so we ripped out the wires and used the scrap to connect the breakout box to the jack, then plugged in the modem… only to find out there was no power to the outlets in the room.

I won’t go into details on how we got that working, cause that was a little scarier. Fortunately Scott cleaned that up for us the next day. We connected the modem to a WRT54G which effectively covered half the building in WiFi, and yesterday I ran a 100 foot ethernet cable through the drop ceiling to another WAP to cover most of the rest of the building, getting us online for the weekend.

In a couple weeks we’ll have a real network, which some nice switches and some good fat pipe running into every room. We’ll have proper graphics cards for our media PCs, instead of the hack-job I had to do to make a normal sized card fit into a low-profile computer. We’ll have meeting rooms for the staff (for the first time in months) and a break room for the volunteers who work 4 services in a row without complaint. We’ll have a beautiful new campus, number two of only God knows how many, where people can come and feel at home and feel like God cares about them…

This weekend is gonna be a little rougher than that, but God willing, and with the city’s permission, we’re gonna have an awesome Christmas together in a church built with love and obedience and joy. And I can’t wait to see how God works in that gym.

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3 thoughts on “Hacking

  1. you didnt mention us kids helpin out, and what a good job we did. =p

    p.s snowflakes? looks like someones getting a little desprate for snow.

    ;]

  2. So while I was sitting at home with a humongous headache, feeling sick, and trying to decide if my stomach can handle chicken soup yet, I decided to look at the computer for a little bit… And while catching up on your blog, I find myself mentioned again. 🙂 It doesn’t happen often, and I must admit that it’s usually the highlight of my day. I guess everyone likes to be noticed. 🙂

    Thanks.

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