Pastors tell us God is faithful.
Inspirational speakers tell us when a vision combines with supporters, amazing things happen.
I agree, but I need to add this: even when God is faithful and amazing things happen, life is still not easy.
Here is a true story to prove all three points.
Jeff and Kathy Moore, like all grandparents, knew that their grandson Elijah was special. However, he was more than just “special.” Because Elijah was autistic, he also had special needs.
Jeff and Kathy often volunteered to take care of Elijah because they knew how demanding child care had been for his parents. Jeff knew that some families are unable to go out to restaurants, stay in hotels, or even attend church regularly because of the intensive needs of their autistic children.
In 2006, Jeff and his wife began searching for property to build a retreat that could host these families, providing a place of rest and refreshment. They wanted between 30-60 acres for up to 6 cabins. Although they originally looked in Missouri, they eventually came to Jacksonville, TX and purchased property there. The challenge: Jeff had never run a retreat center before. His career was in buying and selling construction equipment.
After obtaining land, Jeff and Kathy discovered their first major obstacle: they needed skilled labor. Having reached the end of their personal resources, all they had was land with no facilities. It was then that Kathy prayed to God, “We’ve done all that we can. If you want this vision to be fulfilled, you are going to have to do it.” Then Jeff and Kathy waited.
Within one week, they got phone calls from a group that could build the first cabin. Jeff and Kathy scrambled to find the resources to purchase supplies. After buying supplies, they found out the wife of the group leader had just been diagnosed with stage three cancer and the group could no longer come out. The project was now a no-go.
Two hours later, they got a phone call from another group of 16 people who had heard about Elijah’s retreat and wanted to spend a week doing whatever needed to be done. That unexpected group built the first cabin. So, how did this group hear about the retreat? Because of a yahoo chat room where Kathy had posted about what she and Jeff were doing.
Later, the couple was watching a power of prayer television show. At the end of the show, the host asked those in the audience to email ways they had experienced answered prayers. Kathy responded to the request by submitting stories of God’s faithfulness. The following Thursday, the television show’s host called and explained that their planned show for that Sunday had been cancelled. Could he bring out a camera crew later to record and tell Jeff and Kathy’s story? The property was not mowed, so both Jeff and Kathy jumped on a mower and started making things look presentable for the television crew.
When the show aired, the CEO of Mercy Ships was watching. Mercy Ships’ ministry included both international and local mission work. After viewing the televised story about Elijah’s retreat, he sent out representatives to find out more information. Impressed with their report, Mercy Ships began coordinating groups who would stay for up to a week. One of these groups, a group of college students, erected over 5,000 feet of fence in just one week.
Now Jeff and Kathy had allies and advocates supporting their vision. They had experienced God’s faithfulness. But all that did not guarantee life would be easy.
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Dr. Stanley J. Ward, Biblical Worldview Director, The Brook Hill School