Wow and Whoa
Wow. I know the word is overused, but it is my most sincere response to the glorious work of God on display at our annual meeting Sunday night. There was much to marvel at, including Pastor Jose’s report of major growth in our Spanish congregation, Crux dividing into multiple missional communities, and supporting two new missionaries. But I think the brightest star in this constellation was the epic news that our building mortgage has been paid in full!
In May 2007 we celebrated the groundbreaking for Evergreen’s new facility with great joy, and not a little fear and trembling. With the old building literally crumbling before our eyes, we knew we had to build a new one, and we were heartened by God enabling us to raise $800,000 to date. But the prospect of raising another million on top of that, as well as paying back the $1.2 million we had just signed for… Well, I wasn’t 100% certain whether we were being faithful or foolish.
However, Sunday night we reveled in the glorious provision of God. Not only did the $1.8 million come in during the construction period, God moved his people to such sacrificial giving over the last 10 years that we paid off our 25-year loan in less than 10 years, saving $622,000 in interest! After the meeting we went outside and celebrated with singing and a mortgage burning, in virtually the same spot where we broke ground a decade ago. I shake my head in wonder.
Whoa. That’s my feeling as I look ahead, like when my raft begins to pick up speed toward the opening chute of Blossom Bar, the most challenging rapid on the Rogue River. This is going to be great! I hope we don’t wrap on a boulder. I feel this way because our danger is now much greater. Our decrepit facility created a burning platform that drove us to risk-taking faithfulness and sacrificial giving, despite the odds. Now, the building is done, the mortgage is gone and giving is strong. We have everything we need to get lazy, safe and comfortable.
My good friend from college had a great response to the news of our debt retirement. “That’s great news! Now what? Are you going to challenge the congregation to see how many orphanages and safe houses you can build in the next 10 years?” That’s exactly the mindset we need. God has made us a five-talent church and we need five-talent faithfulness. (Matthew 25:16)
Ten years ago, during the construction phase, I said, “This is practice…for more challenging kingdom work.” After all, it is relatively easy to be zealous and sacrificial taking to build our own building. But will we be as zealous and sacrificial to invest in kingdom work that doesn’t directly benefit us? Yes! That is our resolution and our joy. First steps we agreed on Sunday night include investing in Open House Ministries, participating in SafePark, partnering with Mission Connexion, increasing the Missions Budget 42% and approving $30,000 for Action International’s residence hall project in the Philippines where Gary and Melita Root are serving. By God’s grace, we will continue to aggressively invest all God has entrusted to us until we hear, “Well done, good and faithful servants! Come and share your master’s joy!” (Matthew 25:21)