Many people have asked us where we stand in the process of moving to the mission field. I would like to give you the latest update. Throughout this journey I have emphasized that doors are opening and mountains are moving not because of our efforts, but rather in the absence of them. And so it was with the sale of our home. We are currently settled into our rental home after a whirlwind month of July, where in a matter of two weeks time we managed to have an estate sale and move our remaining things to our new residence. The lion’s share of the credit goes to my amazing wife who managed to coordinate all of this in the midst of my demanding schedule and without missing a beat in caring for our four children.
Having finished residency, we moved to Marietta, Georgia and bought our home in 2007, a year before the economy crashed. And like many others in our situation, we watched the value of our home plummet. Encouraged that “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of things unseen,” we pressed on with the sale of our home. Hoping at best to break even on our mortgage, we elected to go without a realtor and list it by Owner (emphasis on the capital “O,” as this process has taught us profound lessons in His ownership of everything). In addition, after prayerful consideration and a few suggestions by friends, we decided to post the sale of our home on Ashleigh’s Facebook page. However, after a couple of weeks and a visit from a prospective buyer, we removed the Facebook listing so that we could focus on end of the school year events.
We entered July 2012 with much on our plates. Already scheduled many months prior were a one week training course with WGM the second week and a one week family reunion at the beach the last week. On June 28th my wife received an email from a dear Christian family, whom we knew from our past, who were interested in seeing our home. Although this couple did not know us, they had dedicated their talents to furthering His Kingdom, and their ministry had greatly impacted our Christian walk over the last 15 years, beginning at the very youth camp where we received our calling. We had even considered several months earlier writing them to let them know of their positive influence on our lives, but this inclination was lost in the busyness of daily life.
Their inquiry into our house was initiated by an unsolicited letter that they had gotten while living in their town home. That letter was from a perspective buyer (who had already sold their home) requesting that should they ever decide to sell their town home (which was not on the market at the time) to let them know, as they were very interested. They pondered whether this was God’s timing for moving their family back into the setting of a neighborhood home. Through a friend of a friend, they were informed that our home (which had been off of Facebook for over a month) might be one to consider.
On Thursday, June 28th, this faithful family came to our home for a look, and on the following day they offered us a contract for our asking price. What’s more, the wife’s father was a realtor and was willing to write up our contract without any fees! But God had only just started to show us His faithfulness. Prior to listing our home on Facebook, we had gotten our own appraisal which came back a SIGNIFICANT amount less than we still owed on our mortgage. As it turns out, the appraiser admitted to making an error in his calculations. Once he made the appropriate revisions, our home value went up, but it only cut our deficit in half. We continued to list our home for what we still owed, knowing full well that if realtor fees were involved or if the buyer could not come up with what we were asking, that we were not in a position to make up the difference and sell the house.
Trusting in God’s sovereignty and believing He had called us to this purpose, we moved ahead and signed the contract. The home inspection went well, and we waited for the buyers to get their appraisal. They asked for the closing date to be in one month! Knowing that we would be out of town two of those weeks, we decided to plan our estate sale the week after getting the contract even though there was a contingency clause in the event the buyers backed out. After returning the contract to the buyers on Monday, July 2nd, we pulled a number of late nighters and somehow (by God’s grace and my wife’s Wonder Woman skills) we were able to pull off an estate sale that Thursday through Saturday. We then packed our children’s and our own bags that Saturday night for our respective destinations, and the next day Ashleigh and I headed to Indiana for our first week of training with World Gospel Mission.
As Ashleigh and I recovered from that whirlwind week in the quiet setting of Marion, Indiana, we waited patiently for the appraisal. The odds seemed to be stacked against us, because the appraiser had actually come to do his evaluation during our estate sale! You can imagine our angst when we learned that he had no other times available except that Saturday morning (the day of the public sale). This critical appraisal, which could decide the fate of our home sale, was going to be done amidst the chaos of hundreds of people rummaging through almost everything we owned. We were both completely distracted by the busyness of the sale (once again removing our efforts from the equation), so my sister was left to escort the appraiser around a home that was not her own, and we were once again left relying on God to handle all of the details.
As we sat attentively in a World Gospel Mission conference room taking notes, I noticed Ashleigh checking a text message on her phone (wondering if perhaps there was an issue with one of the children). As the tears began to stream down her face, she revealed the message from the buyer. The final appraisal had not only covered what we owed on our mortgage and what the buyer had agreed to pay, but was actually $5,000 higher than our asking price! In those six weeks since we had stepped out in faith and listed our home against the odds, our great God had not only met our need, but had also given the buyers a $5,000 investment for their faithfulness.
But that’s not all. The Friday that we received our contract, one of our first thoughts was “Where are we going to live?” With the wellbeing of four young children at stake, the temptation was to immediately send out a mayday signal to everyone we knew. “One month to leave, family of six, few possessions left and no where to go!” it might have read if we had our hands in it. But just as quickly as that concern surfaced, I was confronted by a quiet, gentle voice whispering in my mind to NOT look for a place to live for one week. One week! If we delayed one week, we would be at our training course in Indiana, and it would be impossible to get anything done up there! Yet the directive was as clear as a bell, and so I shared my leaning with Ashleigh and we agreed to wait again faithfully for His perfect and timely provision to be revealed.
Then, just two days after receiving our contract, one of our dear friends approached me after church to say that he’d heard about the news concerning the sale of our home. He wanted to let me know that in years past the home across from theirs had been for rent, and if we’d like, he could check into it. Interestingly, the older couple that owns the house spends every April through December at their farm in Indiana, and when back in Marietta, live only in the finished basement. Upon our request, they were gladly willing to rent the fully furnished main floor of their home (a real blessing since we had sold nearly all of our furniture). Not only that, but they were wiling to let us stay as long as we needed to, without even asking for a contract, and for a very reasonable rate for rent that included all utilities (just one less chore to occupy our time).
So here we are, living in a peaceful neighborhood, across from wonderful friends (whose daughter has been our babysitter for many years and is adored by our children), in a home that has a very similar arrangement to what we can expect to have in Kenya, preparing for the next stage of our journey (raising support).
Lessons learned? Selling a home when it’s value has been decimated in a crippled economy … “This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Kings 3:18). Two weeks to sort through and sell almost everything we own and move to a new place, with four children and a father’s hectic work schedule … “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). The worries of settling our four tender children into a stable home that will prepare us for the transition to Kenya … “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matt 6:26).