One of my favorite verses in the Books of Acts shows how Peter & John respond to a crippled beggar’s plea for money.
“Look at us… Silver & gold have I none but such as I have, I give to you….in the Name of Jesus Christ rise up and walk.” Acts 3:6
Likewise, in 45 years of sharing who Jesus Christ is with thousands of international students, the only silver I have to give away is the Word of the Lord that’s like silver refined to be pure in a furnace seven times. (Ps 12:6). Here’s one of those nuggets.
In the summer of 1982 we were preparing to buy the house that we have now lived in for over 30 years. We’d been looking & praying for 9 months for a house that would meet 4 basic conditions:
- 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, on a cul-de-sac or dead-end street
- Under $100,000
- Assumable and non-escalating mortgage
- Inside I-285
Our realtor told us those 4 conditions could not be met. It was impossible. She insisted we look outside I-285; or offer $50k more for such a house; or look for a modest 3 bedroom-2 bath house. So each time she took us to look for a house, she would only go outside to I-285. However, each time we ventured out on our own, we only looked at houses inside I-285.
The last time I saw that realtor she had an exciting offer: a 4 bedroom, 3 bath house, only 5 miles outside I 285, under $100,000, and with an assumable mortgage. I mentioned she only missed on 1½ conditions. So I asked if the mortgage would escalate from its current rate of 8%. (That might seem ridiculously high compared to today’s standards but during the 1980 recession, 8% was a bargain value!) Upon investigating, she proclaimed, “It will only escalate to 12% …which is only $100 more a month!” Her final sales pitch filled with such expectation, assurance & exhilaration completely missed the target on my heart when she exclaimed, “But you can afford it!”
I asked if she thought I should take a five $20 bills out of my wallet, tear them up and throw it into the wind each month just because I could afford it? Needless to say, she must’ve thought my concepts and faith were ridiculous.
On our own a few months later, we found a 4 bedroom, 3 bath house inside I-285, on the cul-de-sac for under $100k with an assumable and non-escalating mortgage. Why was an assumable mortgage so important? Because as missionaries on a faith budget with no guaranteed income, we could not prove to a bank that we were worthy of a loan.
Why a cul-de-sac? Two of three daughters were desperate to learn to ride bikes without training wheels. The day we moved in, they both soloed!
What about the particulars of how we would buy that the house? That takes a bit more explaining.
It listed for $99,000, but on the day my wife and I came to visit, the owner dropped the price to $89,000. What an incredible price!
But what did we have to offer?
Two years earlier I had sold our house in Houston Texas for about $69,000 and invested the equity in various silver stocks, certificates, or bullion. For a season, its value more than doubled. Then a massacre on silver hit the market and I started losing money. By the time I wanted to buy the house the silver certificate that I bought for $17k was only worth $7K, a $10 K loss!
I explained our financial dilemma to the owner, a Swiss born woman married to a Japanese businessman while they were living in Atlanta and had subsequently moved to Japan. I discovered she became a Christian when a Japanese girl that she was babysitting was watching a Christian TV show like the 700 club. The TV evangelist told those watching the show to find a Christian and pray with them to received Christ. This young girl assumed the Swiss lady was a Christian because she spoke English like the TV evangelist. To their surprise, the Swiss home owner did not knew Jesus, so together they prayed for God to forgive them and to make Jesus real in their lives!
Back in the USA, that dear Swiss believer looked me square in the eye and said she would be willing to reduce the price another $10,000 based on the value of that silver certificate by the time we closed in 30 days. After a day of prayer and fasting, we met and I startled myself and her with this spontaneous prophetic word: “In the next 30 days, if you see the price of silver go up from where it is today @ $7 to $8/ounce and then bounce down to $6 and on the day of closing back up to $7/ounce; then you will know that the Lord will cause the price of silver to go up to at least $17/ounce within the next 6 months.”
Without blinking she said, “Let’s do it.” 30 days later those exact terms came to pass. On the day of closing I signed over the silver certificate I had bought for $7/ounce for a $10,000 credit on the house, thus lowering the cost to $79,000!
Even then we couldn’t afford to but that house. I’ll have to save that story for chapter 2.