I mentioned a few months ago that we needed another million dollars for our building project at 402 N. St. Louis and that I was struggling with how we would be able to reach that goal. I can tell you now, that blog post was an understatement. Just before Thanksgiving the real estate and finance committees of our board met to try to map out a plan of action. There were very legitimate questions being asked...
Was the construction project distracting us from focusing on raising our key programs to excellence? Was there a way to change our plans to free up money and staff during the construction? How was the construction project impacting general operating funds? If God was leading us to do this work, why were we struggling financially? Were there other options that we had missed? How was this construction project and the ensuing costs going to impact Breakthrough’s financial stability going forward? How would this project affect our ability to complete the 2010 plan to build a Family Plex (academic and recreational center)? What were we going to do about the funding gap?
Beyond these internal questions we were facing the likelihood of having to halt construction until the bank felt confident providing a bridge loan for us while pledges from our capital campaign come in. We investigated a plan to phase the project and finish only a portion of the renovations. We certainly did not want to reach the end of construction and have a debt of one million dollars to repay from our already tight operational cash flow! And there was the stress of our thirty homeless men having to squeeze into a small apartment building every night because the construction project at First Free Church was beginning to disturb the habitat of the building's rats. The guys desperately need this living space.
I could write on and on about the process, the escallating costs of construction, trying to keep everyone on the same page, facing the constant vandalism and stealing at the construction site. Let me just say, the last several months have been the most stressful of my life. In the midst of the stress, I somehow knew the Lord was with us, but it felt like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being tossed into the fiery furnace with the claim that, "Our God is able to deliver us, but even if He does not, we will not bow down." The fire was unpleasant and hot and I didn't know the outcome, and yet I knew Jesus was with us in the furnace.
Another analogy I thought of was Moses leading the children of Israel to the Red Sea and not seeing a way out. I admit, I was beginning to lose faith. Several times I woke in the middle of the night filled with anxiety and I would get down by my bed to pray. I felt that I had done everything I knew to do, and we were coming up short. I wavered between earnest cries to God for help and flat out protests of "Where are you God? Why have you abandoned me?"!!
Finally, this past Monday, our staff leadership team told God that we recognized that we were positioned for a miracle. We had done all we knew to do and we were utterly dependent on God for the next step. We repented of our pride and self sufficiency. I joined Nancy Hall, our Development Director, in a fast that day (She fasts regularly). By the end of the day I told my daughter, Teri, that I no longer felt stressed about the building. It was as if something had broken free in my spirit and I knew everything would be fine, that God was going to make a way.
The next day I had a meeting scheduled with Alderman Burnett. I had asked for the meeting several weeks before in hopes of getting him to use his position to get a blue light police surveillance camera at the corner of our construction site to stop the vandalism. We talked about the construction and the gap in funds. He immediately got on the phone and made some calls and it looks like we will be getting one million plus from the city!! It was unbelievable. The same people and departments that had turned us down for funding suddenly did an about face and basically told us that if the alderman wanted a million dollars for this project, we would get it!!
We still have hoops to jump through, but it is looking really good that we will get this building built, on time, and entirely paid for. I can't stop sighing and saying "thank you" to God.