Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How we got here - Part 2

The Northeast KC

Since it looked doubtful that we would be sent overseas given our debt situation, I began to look at other ministries. At the same time, I applied for expatriate assignments at work as they came up, to go to Poland and India for 6-month or one year assignments. Neither of these opportunities worked out.

We learned about a group of people from a church up north of the river (Faith), who live in the historic NorthEast neighborhood of downtown. I found Jason Dawson’s website (www.urbanreformation) and he was kind enough to meet several times. The Lord was so kind to give us friends like the Dawsons, the Petschs, and the Hallams. We began to learn of Christians who were selling their homes and buying 100-yr-old homes in this notorious (drugs/prostitution) area to bring the light of the Gospel where it is so dark spiritually, and where the needs are great.

Amazingly, my wife ‘came around’ despite her fears, and agreed that we should sell our house and look to buy or rent a house in the NE. Our hope was to buy cheap and fix up, cut our mortgage bill in half and make rapid progress toward debt elimination. At the same time, we were excited about starting Bible studies and doing outreaches to share the Gospel in that neighborhood. It was about that time when God began to raise up a pipeline of young godly men at Countryside, and Pastor Mike announced plans for starting a number of church plants in Ottawa, and other places, perhaps the inner city. So our hope was that we could partner with the existing families and get a church going there.

How we sold our half duplex

So we put our house on the market. We interviewed three agents before choosing the one who gave us the lowest figure on what she thought our list price should be, citing the ‘buyer’s market’ and ‘days on market’ concepts. We went with Shelley Shatzer because we knew she would tell us the truth, not what we wanted to hear. What a blessing she has been! A believer herself whose son is a missionary, we became good friends. She took us to countless houses in the NorthEast, on Cypress and Jackson and Van Brunt and Chelsea. I learned not to judge a book by its cover, because while Shelley looks to me like a typical ‘Johnson County’ realtor, she is as genuine as they come. She cares more about her clients than her commission. We can’t recommend her enough.

So we put our house on the market during the big first-time-home-buyer tax credit time. It was wonderfully staged by Shelley’s associate, Vickie. It was in great shape and looked brand new. We somehow kept it that way too, getting in the habit of keeping it spotless. We lived like this for six months. We had very few showings and only one offer … a lowball one at that. We were discouraged and wondering what God was doing. We kept praying and obeying Psalm 37:5, though often getting discouraged. He was in control and perhaps He just didn’t want us to move. In the meantime, we had become known as a family that was ‘moving to the inner city for ministry’. Even if unaware of it, there was a certain level of pride that had found its way into my heart. I was anxious to ‘get out of the burbs’ and take up my cross and follow Christ. I was excited to be part of this movement I was seeing in several families from church to join those already there in the Northeast. Deep down I had a certain feeling of superiority, looking down on those who live comfortably in the burbs.

We constantly worried that we would clear enough money to be able to move to our next place. With our financial situation, we had not been able to offer the house for as low as we would have parted with it, because of what we would clear. Given what we owed, coupled with a large subsidy recapture we would have to repay because of the type of government loan we had. So at the end of our six-month contract, Shelley suggested we unlist our house and put up a For Sale By Owner sign. She understood that if God wanted the house to sell, He would make it happen. But our concern was that we would not have enough proceeds to move to our new place.

This is how God works. Within a few days of ‘unlisting’ and a FSBO sign in our yard, we had an offer! God gets the glory! Shelley helped us a great deal with our counter-offer which we will never forget. So after six months of being listed, we ‘unlisted’ and it was sold in a week!

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Here is my testimony: mike