After nearly nine official years as a church, we (at Mosaic) have embarked on a journey to raise a minimum of $1,000,000 in cash and/or three-year pledges by the end of December 2010 in order to purchase a permanent home in Little Rock's University District: the old K-Mart on the corner of University and Asher/Colonel Glenn Rd. Amazingly, we will purchase the 100,000 sq. ft. facility that sits on 10-acres of paved lot for only $1.7 million in cash - that's $17 a sq. ft not including the land!
Recently, I was asked, "How has God clearly revealed that this is His will for our church?
Well, I've actually written about this before. Here's the story ...
Not long after Linda had rekindled my faith with her words, I learned that a 100,000-square-foot facility just a few blocks east of us had been sold. Situated on a 10-acre piece of property, the building rests on one of the busiest corners in the state of Arkansas. More important, it’s located directly across the street from UALR and is in the heart of the University District, the most diverse area of the city. In addition, it borders an area with the highest instance of violent crime in Little Rock and, according to the 2000 census, 21.5% of people living in the area live at or below the poverty line. In other words, it is right where we want to be!
So when I received a call alerting me to its sale, I was sick! For more than a year, two men had tried to acquire this property, in part, to provide long-term space for the church. Unfortunately, they had not been successful, and this facility (which once housed a Kmart) was sold to a local businessman, the owner of Ofﬁce Furniture Supply (OFS), Inc.
With discouragement swirling within me, I called Linda to share the news. And when I did, she said, “This doesn’t make sense! You know that for more than three years I’ve told you, every time I drive by that building I see the ﬂ ags of Mosaic ﬂying over it. I just know God’s going to give it to us, Mark; I’m sure of it! The story’s already been written and God has the perfect place for us. It’s already done! We just need to pray right now that he’ll show us where it is and soon, whether that’s the old Kmart building or somewhere else.” So together, we then prayed and concluded our call. Linda had encouraged me, but still I was concerned.
Next I called Harry. After I had ﬁlled him in, he told me that he had once purchased a house on a desirable piece of property just outside Moscow, Idaho. On the very day that he did, however, another man approached him wanting to buy it. The man made an offer, and Harry accepted it - ﬂipping the home he had just purchased for a proﬁt. “Perhaps,” Harry said, “the new owner of the facility would do the same for us.”
“Say no more,” I said, and springing into action, I quickly placed a call—cold turkey—to OFS, Inc. Fortunately, the owner, Mike Montgomery was in, and I introduced myself over the phone. Indeed, he had secured the property and was in the process of closing the deal.
Trying not to sound desperate, I nevertheless found myself saying, “What if we were to give you $500,000 more than you are paying for the property? Would you be willing to sell?”
By that time, we had talked for about ten minutes, and Mike suggested we continue our discussion in person. Filled with optimism, I rushed over to see him. And within ten minutes of my arrival, Mike made it clear: “Someday, Mark, your church is going to own this property. And I can assure you, it has nothing to do with money!”
“You see,” Mike said, “eleven years ago, I was a homeless drunk sleeping behind ‘your’ Wal-Mart. I was eating food out of the dumpster at McDonald’s, and my only light came from the candles I would occasionally purchase for $1 right here in the Kmart. One day, though, someone came by and left a tract—I don’t even know who it was—but after reading it, I began attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings.
In time, I sobered up and soon gave my life to Jesus Christ. And for four years now, I have watched your church grow and minister to ‘my people’ here in the community. It would thrill me, Mark, to see Mosaic permanently located here!”
Quite frankly, I was blown away! As we talked, tears began to ﬂow from his eyes and mine. Somehow we both sensed that this was a holy moment, a divine appointment in which we had been led together into take intentional steps the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. And in that moment, Mike became our “Esther,” a man positioned for such a time as this.
When I returned to the church, I again called Linda to share with her all that had happened in a very brief time, and we began to cry tears of joy. She told me that after we had talked earlier, she had spent more time in prayer and had been led in God’s word to 2 Chronicles 7, where Solomon, together with the people of Israel, dedicate the Temple. Reading from the passage, she shared the very words that our hearts were bursting to express: “When all the people of Israel saw the ﬁ re coming down, and the glorious presence of the Lord ﬁlling the temple, they fell down on the ground and worshipped and praised the Lord, saying, ‘ He is so good! The faithful love of the Lord endures forever!’” (2 Chronicles 7:3).
With these words, Israel had ﬁnally received and dedicated the Temple and we now realized that Mosaic, too, would one day receive and dedicate a building of its own in which to worship God—the old Kmart, after all! It was a ﬁtting end to the roller coaster of emotions we had ridden that day, April 20, 2006.
To make a long story short, we then had Mike and his wife, Monica, together with their children, come and share his testimony at Mosaic on November 19, 2006. And a few weeks later, he was back again, this time to sign a contract with us in front of the body. At that time, we agreed to buy the property within the next three years for $2,000,000—only $20 a square foot—for which we will receive the 10-acre site, the 100,000-square-foot facility, and 500 parking spaces to call our own. What a thrill it was to give him the $100,000 we had saved as a down payment! But wait, there’s more.
The following week, we received another anonymous check in the mail—you guessed it, in the amount of $100,000—as well as a $250,000 matching gift pledge. Amazingly, the phone call informing me of these gifts came one year to the day that we had dismissed our Sunday service early to conduct a prayer walk on the old Kmart grounds. And as part of the contract, Mike agreed to deduct $300,000 off the purchase price at the time of closing. Therefore, we will need a total of only $1,700,000 to make the purchase; as I write, we are nearly half-way there! God is, indeed, answering our prayers, not only for a facility but also for the miraculous provision of it so that, in the end, we will all be able to say, Not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit it has been done.
Admittedly, throughout more than twenty years of full-time ministry, I have not often viewed praying or waiting as intentional steps. Of course, I know I am “supposed” to pray, but I struggle with a temperament compelled to action. Through my experience at Mosaic, however, I am learning to embrace the tension and more fully abandon myself to this principle: Sometimes intentionally, I must wait upon the Lord. To wait patiently on God to reveal his will, his way, and his time runs contrary to my very personality and to all that the world says will lead me to success. But in and through this ministry, and more so than in any other place I have been, I have seen God work in ways that cannot be otherwise attributed to the ingenuity of man. At such times, I feel his power and his pleasure. At such times, I know that God is really the One building a healthy multi-ethnic church!
Adapted from the book, Building a Healthy Multi-ethnic Church by Mark DeYmaz (Jossey-Bass/Leadership Network, 2007)