Phase one of the EDUCATION FOR EXULTATION building is complete and paid for debt free. With you I say, "Thank you, Father, for your mercy and power. Thank you for the grace poured out into the lives of hundreds of sacrificial givers. Thank you for granting our unceasing request to enter phase one debt free. You are great, and greatly to be praised."
Let the story of grace be told. For many of us this is the culmination of a six-year fight of faith. On October 31, 1997 the elders received a recommendation to build. It looked like this:
Mission, Vision, Assumptions, and
Toward a New Educational Building/Community Life Center
As this decade opened Bethlehem built a new sanctuary (1991). We finished paying for it in 1996. The church is now debt free. The building and funding of this new sanctuary was driven by the conviction that worship (both corporate and individual) is the fuel and goal of missions. Worship is why humans exist in the universe. Missions exists because worship doesn't. Therefore we exist as a church to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples. We savor the supremacy (that's worship) and we spread the passion (that's missions).
Now, as the decade closes we are equally gripped by the truth that education undergirds exultation. Educating our people - from the cradle to the grave - with a Bible-based, prayer-soaked, passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples is essential for accomplishing our mission. Biblical, prayerful education is the seed of Godward exultation and Gospel dissemination. Imparting truth about God is the foundation of worship and missions. Spreading a passion for the supremacy of God will not survive in the absence of serious teaching and modeling of God-centered thinking and living. Imparting right theology is essential to sustain authentic doxology.
Thus EDUCATION FOR EXULTATION was born. In June, 1998, the elders took hold of a document called "THE GIDEON VENTURE: Should We Build Without Debt?" In it a debt-free vision for the new building was laid out. In January, 1999, the elders confirmed this direction with another document, "THE ISAAC FACTOR," which began, "God's purpose in redemptive history is to do many things against great human odds" - like the birth of Isaac to an post-menopausal woman and an old man; and like building debt free.
Half the money was raised before the shovel entered the ground. The other half was pledged. Then the work began. We took the risk that God would open the windows of heaven near the end of the project so that the final dollars needed to enter phase one debt free would be given in time. In these last weeks hundreds of thousands of dollars have come in to fulfill this dream. The children will have their first official Connection in the new building on October 22. TBI classes will meet there for the first time that same week.
This is what we committed to do, debt free, with congregational approval: up to seven million dollars on phase one (three floors usable). Beyond this, the fourth floor is scheduled to be finished the first week of December and the staff plan to return that week[!]. The underground level and the remodeling of the '55 building and the kitchen is not complete. Then there is the need for the North Campus to have its own site with whatever costs that will involve. Now we must seek the Lord afresh for a whole new phase of growth and giving. Pray with us for the mind of Christ.
We rejoice and give God thanks for his mercy. Then we take a deep breath of grace and press on - like sojourners (semi-nomadic dwellers in Minnesota) - to the next conquest with Christ.
Glad to be traveling with you,