The deadline for raising the necessary funds for constructing a church building for our young church in Samora Correia was December 31, 2014. During 2014, the Rusts contacted every Prayer and Financial Partner they’ve ever had. We appealed to everyone on our team. Jon Rust wrote a letter asking for financial assistance to every evangelical church in Portugal. He even contacted city hall and the county inquiring about either funds to build our building or publically-owned buildings that we could lease from the government in exchange for maintaining the property. To the best of our knowledge, no stone was left unturned. However, we ended the year with $167,000, well short of the needed $330,000.
Sensing that God may not give us all that was needed for “Plan A,” in the later part of 2014, we began to pray diligently for God to lead us to “Plan B.” We really believed that a building is necessary at this point because we’ve outgrown the tiny bookstore. In early 2015, while Jon pursued options with the local government, I (Andy) began looking at existing structures which were for sale. I found one we liked and Jon contacted the realtor. Upon hearing the price, we knew that this door was also closed. However, a couple days later, the realtor called back and said that she had a property she wanted to show us. When we first saw the building, Jon and I had the same reaction, “This isn’t what I would have chosen, but I think this is what God has for us.” Over the next few days, we felt at peace and became excited by the potential of this property. We were awed by the fact that the money we have in hand is sufficient to purchase the building and do the initial remodel.
We applied for approval for this new project from our mission’s Project Office. Our mission recently enacted new a fast-track approval process for projects that meet certain criteria. As a result, we applied for and received approval in 17 days. Next, we presented the project to the pastors and lead church-planters of our association of churches here in Portugal. They voted unanimously to proceed with the project. A few days later, our Field Team of ABWE missionaries gathered to consider the project. Encouraged by the approvals we had already received plus the testimony of our on-sight liaison with ABWE Project Office, the Field Team green-lighted the project.
We made an offer on the property that was 7% less than the asking price. The seller accepted our offer and on March 10, 2015, we placed the down payment. Lord-willing, we’ll close in a few months.
All this reminds me of something my friend Roger Harrower often said to me, “Andy, with you it often seems like God is doing nothing. But, you better be ready to move because when He moves, He moves fast.”