This year, a colleage challenged me to try a new approach, and so instead of a usual year end appeal letter, I put together a small catalog of giving opportunities.
I’m really excited about it, and would love to share it far and wide. But one of the opportunities is to give toward the work of someone who would be at risk if I gave much public information on the internet.
So, if you already subscribe to our newsletter list, you’ll get the details. If you don’t, and want the catalog, send me a message and I’ll pass it along. Also, if you’d like, now would be a great time to subscribe to our newsletter. 🙂 (There’s a subscription form to the right on our website).
Isaac and I drove home in virtual silence. The disappointments were mounting. After getting accepted to his first choice college, Isaac had been unable to go. It was just too expensive, in spite of his numerous scholarships from the school and even one from a local church. Now he was waiting on his second choice school but it would be months yet.
We’d just put Brandy and Faith on a plane back to Germany, but finances had forced me to stay behind. I had no return ticket. No plan for when I could go home. We were both stuck in limbo.
“Heard back on any of your job applications?” I asked.
He just shook his head. The pneumonia had interfered with all of his plans. No friends. No job.
“Maybe next week we can drive out to Barclay.” The tiny college I’d graduated from in Kansas was hovering in the number 3 or 4 slot on Isaac’s list. “Have a little father/son road trip.”
Isaac smiled softly. “That’d be fun, Pa.”
While I was trying to line up appointments for my extended stay, I texted admissions over the weekend and setup accommodations for us Monday night and a tour Tuesday morning. So, after a long slow weekend, the two of us set out for Kansas.
A six hour trip quickly became eight. As we neared the tiny town of Haviland (population 703), a big sign reading “I’d turn back if I were you” seemed almost prophetic. The town was so small, we drove right past it and had to turn around, but we found the school.
18 hours later we were back in the car driving home.
“What did you think?” I asked.
“As plan B,” Isaac answered, “I would be happy to go there.”
The next morning dawned bleakly. I had no new appointments.
“Dear Lord,” I prayed, “I don’t know what you’re doing, or why you’re doing it this way… Help me. Please, Lord. You’re always there when I need you. I know you’re hearing me now. What do I do?”
When I’d finished praying, I walked upstairs to see Isaac. He looked like I felt.
He’d been waiting for today since his arrival. He was to audition for the church music team, but the leader couldn’t make it and they would have to reschedule. He felt a bit like the only thing he was looking forward to had been taken away. Both of us sat looking at one another in shared commiseration. We felt hopeless. I started talking, trying to suggest activities that Isaac might enjoy, and all of the sudden, he sat bolt upright, his eyes lighting up.
“What?” I asked.
He started to slump immediately. “Nothing.” He said. “It’s crazy. It doesn’t make any sense.”
I smirked. “None of this makes sense.” I said, “Let’s hear it.”
“What if I just go to Barclay right now? This semester.” he replied. “But, then I’d have to take out loans and it… it’s just crazy.”
I was glad that he was leery of loans, but I knew they’d be very small in this case, so I told him to go ahead and submit the application and I’d get started on finances.
The rest of the week was a whirlwind. Isaac submitted his application Wednesday, was accepted Thursday and we were back in Kansas moving him into his dorm on Saturday. Everything seemed like a perfect fit. By the time I was driving back to Colorado on Sunday afternoon, Isaac was on the soccer team, had found a good church, scheduled an audition for the worship band and was joining the school choir. I could see God’s hands all over this moment that was tailored precisely for my son.
The next morning, I was back in a darker place.
“Yes, Lord, it’s clear to me I needed to be here to help Isaac step into the amazing plan you have, but,” I whined vigorously, “I’m still stuck here — no closer to having the money raised!”
The foolishness of it, the ingratitude is embarrassing, but I’m being honest.
Between fruitless attempts to raise money, I tried to contact the finance office at Barclay. Isaac was in classes, but I still didn’t know how much the bill would be. I expected we’d need an additional $3000-4000 to be paid over the remainder of the year. Finally, I got the finance guy on the phone.
“I’ve got all Isaac’s info here, I just have to put it into the system.” He told me.
I listened to his clicking keys for several minutes. Then came the big number.
“First semester,” He informed “Isaac will owe $1247 and $1248 next semester.”
I got payment instructions and we agreed to talk again the next day. As I hung up the phone, I got thinking about Isaac’s church scholarship. I called them on the phone.
“Yes. Isaac has already talked with us, we’re directing the scholarship to Barclay.”
The scholarship was $1250 a semester. I was floored. Here I was, questioning God and his plan, his ability even to work out our convoluted finances. But God had known all along, where Isaac would end up and how much it would cost. He’d arranged it all perfectly from the beginning, though we’d been unable to see it until all the pieces came together.
It’s still hard to contemplate our financial situation. But I’ve been powerfully reminded just how good and generous our God can be, when we’re seeking him and walking in his will. It’s not that getting there wasn’t difficult. Of course, it was. There were powerful moments of hopelessness and despair. And yet, God delivered on such a sweeping scale. How can I not have confidence in his plans for our ministry and financial provision? Praise the Lord!
A plethora of excitingness has been happening the past four months- and it’s high time for a written report. I was introduced to the Greek Bible College opportunity kind of in the same way an assassin’s target finds out about a planted time bomb minutes from detonation. The amount of time given to consider the situation is so small and pressurized, the tendency toward self preservation has less time to kick in, and a braver course of action is usually taken…God knew if I had too much time to think, I would have stayed home and implemented my home-school-college-for-a-year-via-online-courses-plan. It would have been the worst decision of my life.
Since being here, so many blessings have followed. The opportunities here are so many, together they weigh more than a couple universes. The staff are primarily responsible for that. All of my professors (colloquially) are “beasts” for God. They’re a group of delightful, intentional, and wise people who’ve earnestly been studying the Lord and His word for most their lives (many of them with the bible’s original languages under their belts- how cool is that?!). Accordingly, I’ve been hoarding up vast amounts of…information doesn’t seem to be quite the right word, since the majority of what I’ve been learning doesn’t feel academic. To say it better, I’ve relished and cherished the lessons of Evangelism, Old Testament Survey, Inductive Bible Studies, Corinthian Correspondence, and Theology courses (I admit I may have been a less than excited student of Ancient Greek, but we get on tolerably. 😉 ) . I’ve never loved school more or rather, school has never felt less like school before.
And those are just the academic blessings! I’ve shared the joys of experiencing a new country/culture with classmates who were hand-picked for this year by God. Within the first week, we were treating each other as sincere life-long friends. Together we’ve seen the ruins of Corinth and some of the Athenian wonders- for example the Acropolis and Mars Hill. I confess, we’ve even tested and approved a few picturesque Aegean Sea beaches. Through hands-on projects for the Evangelism course, and projects of our own, I’ve been witness the Holy Spirit stirring people’s hearts for Christ. Every Monday night, I take part in a ministry that serves dinner to over 200 refugees for free. It’s easily the best night of my week- seeing so many hungry, broken people filled up with good food and a message about humanity’s Savior…
Yes, the opportunity for the Greek Bible College was a time bomb- it’s exploded into a radical, life changing, mind blowing, heart shaping, fun oozing time. If this doesn’t teach me that God knows best and that being a Christ follower is the most incredible thing I could ever do in life, I don’t know what would…