“The Paths God Takes Us” Stories From The Patch (Pt 11):
The series on, “Stories From The Patch” has brought many positive comments from our Devotional Family. Several have mentioned how they’ve been encouraged and others shared about the “Circles” they’ve drawn around certain situations. Before continuing with the “Patch Stories,” it’s important we be reminded (myself included), that what Marietta First Church, it’s leaders and myself went through was a process. As I relate how things fell into place I think it does make an interesting story. But please let the next statement sink into your heart and mind very deeply because someone reading this needs to hear it. The Patch Story seems to be about us, but the reality is, “IT’S A STORY ABOUT GOD” and His amazing grace. Life is filled with winding roads and cliffs we sometimes tumble over and we don’t understand why. You may be going through something now you don’t understand. Some will say, “I’m in an impossible situation and I’m afraid!” No one likes that position, but our God is bigger, stronger and wiser than any problem. As you travel the path He has laid out for you today, it may be troublesome and unpredictable, but God is using this experience to build a story through you. One day you’ll share, “I remember when things were really bad, but let me tell you what God did!”
Once our offer was accepted for the property and earnest money put down, the due diligence began. While the finance committee and myself were busy getting everything a lender would need, Dr. Roy Rogers, District Superintendent of the Georgia District came to see the building. I’ll never forget his response. We walked in the 100’X100′ Worship facility. He saw scratches on the wall, wires hanging from the ceiling, a window boarded up and every window and door frost covered, plus other things. “How much are you paying for this,” he asked? “One million, one hundred fifty thousand dollars.” Dr. Rogers asked, “How many acres are here?” The answer was “twelve.” The Superintendent then said, “Move on this as quickly as you can and don’t let it get away. This is AMAZING!!”
The Board had decided to finance with the Wesleyan Investment Foundation out of Fishers, Indiana. Our paper work was in and I’d had numerous conversations with an agent putting the loan together. Now it was time for them to come evaluate whether this loan would be of their best interest. I was a little anxious because I was informed Craig Dunn, the CEO of the Foundation would be coming to look everything over. I had not met him nor spoken to him. My hope was the agent would meet with us as I had built a good relationship with him. The meeting was set for Monday July 23rd. Rocky Joyner, Greg Bontrager and Greg Ulmer, three men on our Board and some of the sharpest business minds I know, were included in the meeting. Mr. Dunn met us at the Barrett Parkway office. We briefly got acquainted and he said, “Let’s go see your new property.” Knowing we’d be selling the property he was now at, I asked, “Want to see the upstairs of this building?” “Nope, I’m good.” “Do you want to go look at the other house or drive around the property?”, I asked. “Nope, I’ve seen enough.” (Now I’m wondering, “What did that mean?”
We entered the Dallas Hwy facility and walked into the Worship area. “How much do they want for this building?” After telling him, he asked, “How much land?” Again, “twelve acres” was the answer. Then a classic statement. “I’m hungry, does anyone want to go eat?” I’d borrowed lots of money over the years, but never a conversation like this. I wasn’t sure what Mr. Dunn was thinking. “Do you want to see the upstairs or walk around the property?” His reply was simple, “Nope, I’ve seen enough, let’s go eat before I head home.” This whole thing lasted less than 10 minutes. Sitting in the Longhorn restaurant on Dallas Highway, Mr. Dunn asks, “Gerry, what do you want from me?” I was ready to answer, but quickly was shut off. “Hey, let me tell you what I want to do for you!” Boom, boom, boom! He not only promised us the loan, but gave us a low interest rate stating, “For the first year you can pay “interest only” on the loan.” Chris and I have been involved in at least 30 building programs, renovations, purchasing and/or selling property, etc. Never, NEVER was a loan secured as easily as this one. All the winding paths God had taken us, even the trying of our patience, was all worth it. There was still lots of work to do, but now we’re definitely on our way.