THE PROPERTY MIRACLE
THE STORY OF PROJECT ISAAC AND HOW WE CAME TO HAVE THIS CAMPUS
“This is yours.”
That’s what I heard, almost audibly, when I stepped out of my van onto the parking lot of St. Vincent’s Episcopal Church.
I saw the “For Sale” sign when driving by and swung the Dodge around to take a closer look. It was dark, and I couldn’t tell much about the place, but I was confident I had heard the voice of God.
“We are asking $840, 000,” said the priest the next morning after I told him the Lord had directed me to pursue purchase of the place. He was very receptive since the church had received no firm offers during the four years the property had been on the market.
This was the beginning of an odyssey I called “Project Isaac.” Isaac, who was a child of promise to Abraham and Sarah, means “laughter.” Considering the size of our fellowship and lack of size of our funds, it seemed as impossible as Abraham and Sarah having a baby at one hundred years of age. Was God kidding with me?
I had no clue about how God was going to do it, but in spite of the staggering thought of raising, or even borrowing, that much money, I knew I had clearly heard the direction of the Holy Spirit.
Every friend passing though agreed with me when I took them to see the property, but soon a year went by with no indication we were moving closer to ownership.
I issued a newsletter headlined “PROJECT ISAAC” and included a drawing with labels of intended use for each room. After returning to pastoring in 1978, The Lord had given me a vision of a place where folks could come and stay for a time while they received deeper ministry. The place would have facilities for a library, dorms, laundry, printing equipment, guest rooms, recreation, worship and fellowship. It was to be a place of community and communion, not just meetings and teachings.
Meanwhile, our group of believers continued to meet in store fronts and strip centers, believing to eventually obtain a place for dominion and permanence.
After the first year of waiting, the vestry of the church asked to meet with me and discuss possible ways we could buy the property from them. They agreed to lower the price to us to $420,000 and would take $80,000.00 to hold the property until we could obtain financing. The only bid I could give them was a testimony and exhortation of faith, which stirred them to write me a letter reducing the terms some more. I just had to keep laughing it off.
It was close to four years of believing when the phone call came. “I’m the new director of the finance committee,” the man said, “and I want to see what we can do to get this property sold.” At this point, St. Vincent’s had moved to their new facilities, and Project Isaac had been sitting vacant for almost a year.
“Maybe we can lease the place to you.”
“That would be great,” I said.
“OK. I will get back to you on that.”
I waited on the brother’s response for a couple of weeks and finally called. “Oh, I’m sorry,” he said. “I should have let you know we have sold the property, and the lady is paying cash. She is going to turn it into a daycare center.”
I was stunned! Had I missed God so badly? Had God taken me through a time of testing? What was this all about?
The following Sunday morning, I told our group the news and asked their forgiveness for missing God. Since we had met on the property and everyone sincerely believed for possession, we prayed to break any soul ties with it and go on looking for another place. The ministry was effective, and the whole thing just lifted off me as I began searching for other possibilities.
A few weeks had passed when I received a call from the financial director. He said, “Are you still interested in buying our property?”
“Well, I don’t know. Why?” (You see, the whole thing had gone away. I really wasn’t sure about it at this point).
“The deal with the lady fell through, and we really need to do something with the place. What would it take to get you on the property?”
“Well, we don’t have any cash to buy it.”
“I don’t where we could obtain any financing.”
“We couldn’t pay very much per month.”
“Well, In that case, we’ll take it.”
Within 24 hours I met with the vestry of the church. They agreed to sell me the property for $420,000 with no money down, they would finance it and arrange to make the payments fit our ability to pay. They wanted to sell the property only to me and not to the ministry. We shook hands and they gave me the keys to the place. I laughed and laughed and laughed.
Since that day, miracle after miracle have provided for the much needed repairs, remodeling and restoration. After almost a year of vacancy, we found mildew, broken windows, leaking roofs, bugs, witchcraft symbols and filth. It looked so overwhelming, some of our group left. Nonetheless; God has been faithful to send all kinds of helps from plumbers to carpenters to painters. Every nook and cranny has been blessed with restoration and/or change. The Saints have given of their time, talents and finances to provide the Body of Christ with a ministry center to fulfill the vision of Project Isaac.
THE REST OF THE STORY
The conquest of the land since 1990 entailed numerous spiritual, financial and physical battles. St. Vincent’s Church worked with us through our ups and downs. At one point, a brother gave us $100,000 which allowed us to complete much of our remodeling plans. During a time of financial squeeze, another brother in our fellowship volunteered to catch us up on some arrears pay our monthly payments of $2,500 for six months. All along the way, as we have stood in faith and God has never failed us.
Last mid-year, the new head priest at St Vincent’s invited me to lunch. This was a first and quite a surprise. During our lunch, I encountered a younger minister brother in the Lord who was seeing the reality of the times and was seeking to live by God’s Word. He also voiced his concern about their church having us as their debtor.
Through the years of our financial relationship with St. Vincent’s, I had asked them to not charge us interest on our loan. I wrote letters quoting the Scriptures about how brothers are not to change other brothers usury or interest. The financial committee always turned a deaf ear, but their new priest agreed with me about God’s Word. He asked me to meet with them again and see if we could resolve out indebtedness with them.
At this point we still owed $323,000 (which was mostly interest) on our $420,000 note. We had paid the church $411,000.00 up to that point.
Before the meeting with the finance committee, a couple in the fellowship was blessed with an inheritance and gave us $17,000 to go toward paying off the note, so I approached the committee with an offer to give them the $17,000, if they would forgive the interest. Their first response was that they could not do that because so many of the people in their congregation still had feelings about the old property because their children had gone to school there or because they had fond memories about the work they had done there on the property.
After my report to the folks at our place, we took everything before the Lord and waited on them and HIM.
In a few weeks I received a letter saying they would settle the debt for $94,000. It was a great reduction, but the Lord impressed me not to take it. I responded with another request to forgive the interest.
After almost three weeks, two of the men from the finance committee came to meet with me and offered to clear the debt for $54,000 if we would come up with the cash. The Lord said, “Take it.” What a release! Our bank quickly approved a loan for the money, but it took over three months to clear all title issues for the two and one-half acres of property and buildings.
It was a joyful afternoon when I took the final check to St. Vincent’s, although their lawyer left us paying all the closing costs of almost $3,000. We just forgave it in prayer and I told everyone we would just trust God to replace it.
One week to the day, on a Tuesday, two men walked into our office and asked to talk to me about a gas lease on our property. (Millions of feet of natural gas have been discovered under Tarrant County here in Texas where we have our property). They offered us $1,000 per acre plus royalties when the well to be drilled nearby began to produce. They also asked to rent our auditorium for $1,000 for two nights of neighborhood meetings to sign other leases. Four days later, they gave me a check for $3,550. Look at God!
It never occurred to me that the mineral rights on a piece of property in the middle of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex would be of any significance. But because of the newer technique of slant drilling, they can access the gas under properties miles away. The title to our place was cleared just one week before the lease was signed.
The Lord has made it clear we were to believe we would have our bank note paid-off within a year through His faithfulness and the generosity of His Saints.
Care to have a good laugh with me?
THE END OF THE STORY
Laugh and rejoice harder now, because someone came to me and handed me a check for $13,000 dollars to pay off the final balance of our back note for the property. Here's the proclaimation of celebration:
I, Micah Stephen Bell, Shepherd and Administrator of
The KEY Ministries in Euless, Texas,
hereby announce and declare that in the timing of our Lord, on
Monday morning, May 12, 2014,
may all peoples know that the debt note on the ministry properties
was paid in full.
Thereby, this land, God calls “Beulah”,
in the midst of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex and
in the heart of this nation is
completely set aside for the work of
the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ
“To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent us to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Be it known the twenty-four years of
looking to the Lord for the provision
to complete the purchase of this land has been
a saga of faith and trust.
Our God has never failed us, nor will He ever.
May His name be praised forever and ever.