First of all, God provided advocates. In addition to our faithful core of supporting churches and individuals who have stood by our side for the past seven years, the Lord mobilized ministries to graciously spread the word about our project including blog posts from Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition. I received an email, out of nowhere, from Joshua Harris (whom I've never met) who shared that his mother was Japanese and offered to help in any way.
Thank you to the many of you who joined us in response to these various calls for prayer. It was fascinating to see how God used social media (like twitter, blogs, and Facebook) to spread the word to more than 100,000 people!
Secondly, God provided finances. Missions is a spiritual work, but it cannot run without financial resources. There were many memorable gifts from individuals, churches and organizations, but the most humbling gifts came from missionaries.
$50,000 was raised through the sacrificial gifts of missionaries from South America, Japan, India, China, Afghanistan and other places. Most of these people I've never met. I could understand a bit of what the disciples must have felt when Jesus told them that the widow had just given more than anyone else (Mark 12:41-44).
Thirdly, God provided counselors. John Piper's words to me about God caring more about my reaction if I were to lose the property than about the property itself were sobering. It was an important time for me and for our team to do a heart check. Did we treasure the gift more than the Giver?
A friend asked me the other day why I thought God took a year to fulfill this provision. I told him that God was and will always be focused on people over place. His work over the past year was not primarily about providing a place for ministry, it was about preparing people for that place of ministry.
God's use of sanctifying wilderness journeys did not end with Israel.
Another wise counselor that God provided was my supervisor, Dan Iverson. Throughout the whole process he kept reminding us not to put our hope in any building but in God alone, and that "God may have a plan B."
That turned out to be very true as, after 100% of the needed funds were raised, our "dream property" was lost. The business went bankrupt, and the courts seized the property.
But that same week we found out about an even better property: 9600 square feet; land size two and a half times bigger than the first; and instead of being three stops away from Nagoya station, it was a 4-5 minute walk from it! The value during the real estate bubble was likely in the $20 million range.
We thought for sure it would be out of our price range, likely in the neighborhood of $4-5 million. But by the amazing grace of God, the God of plan B, last month we were able to sign a contract to buy that building and land for $1.2 million!