Many of you know that over summer we felt God leading us to become home owners, something I never would have wanted to do in the past. We’ve never had a large amount of savings, didn’t like the idea of going into debt, and have always wanted to stay flexible to follow Jesus anywhere. But God made it abundantly clear that this was His direction for us. And so like the Hebrew slaves advancing into Canaan to conquer a land they’d never seen, stirred on solely by their trust in God as the one who led them, so too we embarked by faith on this crazy adventure of buying an apartment in Bucharest.
The whole process has been an incredible rollercoaster ride of faith, with all the ups and downs that a rollercoaster entails, and we can hardly wait to be done. The journey has been more exhausting than I ever would have imagined but also more full of the Father’s clear fingerprints than I ever would have thought. Again and again, we were confronted with an impossible situation, and again and again, we watched God simply do it. Through the course of it all, it became clear that this really was His direction and plan, and that He really was intending to provide, each end every step of the way, through every terrifying twist and turn of the rollercoaster.
As a way to give honor to God, join me in remembering these ten “miracles” we encountered on this journey.
1. Supporters gave over 10,000 euros in just a few days.
- On July 5, we found out we’d need to move in September, five months before our rental contract would come to an end. After praying, looking at rental prices, and talking with our bank about a loan, we felt it was time to purchase a home. As confirmation that this was God’s direction, I asked Him to provide 10,000 euros in support. (This was the additional amount we would need for a downpayment based on the conversation with our bank.) He provided it in a few days!
2. We found an apartment that doesn’t need immediate renovation, is the size we need, a price we can afford, and in a great location for ministry.
- Our search began disappointingly. Every apartment we saw was either too small, too far from the city, no longer available, in need of total renovation, or way too expensive… sometimes all five! We finally stumbled on an older apartment in a neighborhood where we’ve felt especially led to minister and already have some established relationships. We loved it right away. The only downside was the price, but when the seller accepted our offer, we could hardly believe it and counted it another confirmation that God was leading us.
3. We found a bank that would work with us and offered a loan for the exact amount we needed.
- Next, we went back to our bank to continue the loan process… where the door was promptly closed because of how Laura’s previous employer had recorded her income. One after another, every bank we talked to also rejected us, either because I’m not Romanian, or because Laura is still on maternity leave, or (at the one bank that would consider my income) because I don’t have a fixed salary. We even contacted an agency that helps banks get new customers, but after hearing our situation, they said it would be impossible. In the midst of all the discouraging results, though, God was still at work. An employee at one bank suggested we call her friend who worked with an agency similar to the one we had contacted. Within a couple days, she found a bank that offered us a loan for 40,000 euros, the exact amount we needed for the apartment. God is good!
4. When the bank changed their agreement, supporters generously covered the loss.
- A few days after signing the loan agreement and a week before we needed to move, the bank called with news that made us question everything: they would not lend us the full amount originally promised but only 27,000 euros. This was completely unexpected, and there was simply no way we could raise the rest of the money we would need. We desperately needed God’s guidance! After praying, Laura and I felt God give us contradictory messages: Laura felt the apartment was meant for us, but I felt we should put everything in storage and follow Him. Amazingly, both of us heard correctly! After beginning to move into storage and announcing our decision, a number of supporters contacted us, wanting to help. In the end, enough support came in to cover the remaining portion!
5. Despite a sudden increase in prices, the seller was able to find a new apartment.
- We signed an initial contract promising to buy the apartment, and then left Bucharest to spend a couple weeks with Laura’s parents while we were temporarily homeless. Shortly after leaving, a new law caused apartment prices to skyrocket, meaning the apartment into which the seller was planning to move was now way overpriced and out of his budget. Miraculously, the real estate agent was able to talk him back down to the original price!
6. A supporter requested his money back, but where God guides, God provides.
- Meanwhile, a supporter from Romania contacted us to say he was not comfortable with us getting a loan from a bank and wanted his donation back. It was a sizeable gift, enough to mean we couldn’t afford the apartment any more, and it was from someone who had always been hugely encouraging, and so we were completely shocked and felt at a total loss. Both Laura and I were so exhausted by the last few months that we were ready to simply give up, admit we made a mistake, and start looking for a place to rent. And then a few days later, a friend called to say he’d been thinking about us all week and wanted to hear how we were doing. Without telling him details, he offered to cover a large portion of the need. Later, other supporters sent in enough funds to cover the remaining amount. Where God guides, God provides!
7. The slow and bureaucratic process actually worked to our benefit.
- On the other side of things, the paperwork for the house was proving more difficult for our real estate agent to acquire than she had expected. While we at first found it annoying to see no progress being made from one week to the next, it actually ended up being a blessing. What if the paperwork had been ready sooner? Considering what had happened with one of the donations, it’s very likely that we wouldn’t have had the money and so would have had to back out of our agreement to purchase the apartment, paying a fine in the process. But because things were moving so slowly, we had enough time to get the financial side figured out, and nobody ever found out. God’s timing is always perfect!
8. We found a temporary place to rent for under $200 a month!
- At the same time, we were also coming up empty in our search for a temporary home in Bucharest so we could get back to some sort of a normal life. We had originally expected to stay at the Baptist dormitory, where there are always extra rooms for non-students who don’t mind a shared bathroom and kitchen, but to our surprise every room was booked until January. Searching online, everything else we could find was either too expensive or too far from the city. At the end of September, Laura had the thought to call the dorms again, and amazingly a bunch of rooms had opened up since our last call. (Thank you, Covid-19 restrictions?) They easily found one for us, and we’re paying only $175 a month, heat, electricity, and water included.
9. The bank waived a required document that would have cost upwards of 10,000 euros to obtain.
- The last week of October, the real estate agent called us very upset. The bank was requiring a document for the house that would necessitate an inspection costing over 10,000 euros. This was a document that the agent had asked about in the very beginning, and we were assured it wouldn’t be necessary. To be told now that it would be required was not only a complete shock but also effectively meant the deal was off. Short of miracle, we wouldn’t be able to buy the apartment and had just wasted three months of our time. We could understand why the agent was upset. We were, too! As Laura and I prayed and sought God’s direction, though, we still felt like this was the apartment He wanted for us. We just had no idea how or even if it would happen! A few days later, the real estate agent called us: the bank had miraculously decided to drop their requirement!
10. The euro suddenly dropped in value when it was time to convert and transfer the money.
- All summer, the euro had been increasing in value while the dollar and the leu had in general been decreasing. Since we would be paying for the apartment in euros but most of our money was in dollars and Romanian lei, this was not at all what we wanted. A couple days before signing the contract, however, the euro made a sudden drop and stayed there until the day after we had finished transferring money. I’m not saying God orchestrated the fall in value just for us, but with the new conversion rates, we ended up saving a few hundred dollars. God’s timing really is perfect.
Sometimes when God leads somewhere, everything is smooth, easy sailing. But other times it’s a complete battle each step of the way. This time, it was a battle. But it’s one that we didn’t win by aggressively fundraising, scheming and planning, penny-pinching, using all our strength and wisdom to figure out how on earth to make it happen. No, each of the problems we encountered, every insurmountable obstacle, each impossibility was crossed by God, either working on people’s hearts or orchestrating events. Like the conquest of Jericho could only be credited to God, not to Joshua’s military brilliance or technological advantage, and was living confirmation of His command to the Hebrews to enter the land, so too has our process been so clearly directed and sustained by God.
Thanks for all of you who prayed, gave, and encouraged us in this great adventure!