we shall reap if we faint not
SURVIVING THE TRIALS OF A BUILDING PROGRAM
by Roger Raper
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After years of walking with God, the Apostle Paul still desired to know Him, as he expressed in Philippians 3:10. According to Paul, it was through trials and suffering that the hand of God quickly became clear. Like Paul, the Lord allows us to face adversity so we can see His Hand and know His might! When we are faced with the impossible, we look to God with whom “all things are possible to him that believeth!” In faithfulness and perfect timing, God brings His child through pain and adversity. Along the way, we learn things about Him we did not know before. This is true in the life of individuals, and it is also true in the life of a local church.
The Raper family arrived in Fort Collins, Colorado, to a nice but small starter building, a few people, and $77,000 of debt. After several months of getting our feet on the ground, we began to work diligently to retire the debt. After our first big day it became clear that our little building would not be adequate to house a self-supporting church, and the need to retire the debt became even more pressing. The situation looked impossible, but God moved in the hearts of His people. We paid off the debt, and we had enough left over to build an adequate facility…or so we thought.
Our engineer failed to submit our plans until after the Christmas holidays. Unknown to us an Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) between the city of Fort Collins and Larimer County went into effect January 1st. The agreement stated that we had to be annexed into the city before we could build. By the way, we had to pay for the annexation. Unexpected adversity.
Two-thirds of the way through annexation, endangered Hawks were discovered on the adjoining property. A city ordinance prevents any development within 1,320 feet of the trees where hawks are nesting. Our building is only 400 feet away. Again, unexpected adversity! To make matters worse, the wife of the chief Raptor specialist of Colorado was a member of the Planning and Zoning Board. She did everything she could to stop construction. Yet, after prayer and fasting, a year of battles, extensive advice from the Christian Law Association, and six hearings later, God moved on our behalf and we were approved.
With annexation came fire sprinklers, storm water improvements, street widening fees, and the list goes on. City requirements added another $200,000 to the cost of our building program, even with members of the church doing most of the work. After borrowing as much as we could realistically afford, we still didn’t have enough. Our permit was nearing expiration, a good deal of work remained to be done, and we had no funds on hand to complete the project.
At each step, however, God provided just what we need to complete each item—just in the nick of time. As you can see, today we have beautiful facilities in which to worship and serve God. We have learned the difference between hearing of His faithfulness and knowing His faithfulness, the difference in hearing of His providence, power, and presence, and knowing His attributes. As the Apostle Paul learned, adversity strips away our self-sufficiency and allows us to depend fully upon Him. When we are faithful through adversity, we gain a far deeper knowledge of Him.
Having done all, stand my friend!