One of my most memorable faith stories happened during the summer of 1991:
In May, I graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a bachelor’s degree. My next step in adulthood would require a huge leap from living with my parents to independence as a young adult. Although hesitant, I felt led of the Lord to make plans to move out. My parents had a vacant rental property and God was stirring my heart regarding it. For years, I hated that house. I hated cutting the high grass, cleaning up after bad tenants, and occasionally crossing a frog or two on the property. The property I hated was now the one I couldn’t get out of my mind.
After graduation, I dreamt about that house. In hindsight, I realize that God was using this experience to develop my faith muscles. When I inquired to my Mom, she replied, “Boy, how can you afford to buy it? You don’t have any money or credit to buy a house!” She then added, “As a matter of fact, I’m thinking about calling a realtor to sell that old rental property, so we can move into a better neighborhood.” I begged Mom not to call a realtor and asked how much she and Dad wanted for the rental. “We’ll sell it to you for $10,000.” I said, “OK.” She iterated, “How can you buy it, when you don’t have any money or credit?” I was crushed. Yet, I asked for the property’s keys and drove there. Meanwhile, her words bounced around in my head.
Her words were true – I just didn’t want to hear them. Honestly, she was right. I had no money or credit. All I had was faith. Later, I realized that faith is all that I would need. Praise God! My pockets were empty, my credit flawed, but my faith tank was full. Since childhood, I knew two Scriptures well: Psalm 23:1 (“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”) and Psalm 24:1 (“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof…”). One day at church, I learned another faith tool, which added greatly to my growing arsenal: Joshua 1:3 (“Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you…”). I took those words literally. When I arrived at the rental, I walked around the yard (front and back), the house’s perimeter, and each room. As I walked, I repeated aloud Joshua 1:3 and said, “Lord, every place I touch, You bless.” When I finished walking around the last room, I fell to my knees, and cried like a baby. These were not tears of defeat, or frustration, but tears of anticipating joy. I thanked God in advance for what I believed Him for – ownership of the rental property. I returned home with my parent’s rental house key and believed one day it would be my own.
The next day, I called a local bank (formerly known as Citizens Bank) and told a loan officer that I needed $10,000 to purchase my parent’s rental property. The officer inquired, “Do you have any collateral?” My response, “What is collateral?” He laughed at me, then probed further regarding my assets, which were nonexistent. Before getting off the telephone, he mentioned, “If your parent’s transferred the house to you, you could use it as collateral, and then we can give you the $10,000.” I asked if he could do the transference, but he said, “No, you can call a real estate attorney to handle this for you. Goodbye.”
I got off the telephone, searched through The Yellow Pages for real estate attorneys, and called two randomly. The lowest fee for this service was $250. That’s $250 that I did not have! I prayed about this situation and kept the faith.
That week, I was working downtown researching public records at the Genesee County Administration Building. (At the time, I was employed at for the Internal Revenue Service as an Internal Revenue Agent; fresh out-of-school, this my first, full-time, career position.) I approached a clerk, Ms. Carolyn Butler, regarding how to transfer real estate property. I told her I desired to buy my parent’s rental property, but lacked $250 to pay an attorney. She smiled, “If you have ten cents, just go down the street, and purchase a blank Quit Claims Deed form. I can show you how to fill it out, call your parents to sign off, pay the nominal filing fee, and that’s all you need.” I got the form, she showed me how to complete it, and my parents came downtown to sign the form. The small fee was paid and now, miraculously, the property was officially in my name. I was ecstatic!
I called the bank, spoke with the same loan officer, and updated him regarding my status as a property owner. “The property’s now in my name. When can I pick up the $10,000?” Then, the loan officer hit me with some unexpected news. “You also need a current appraisal. In order to borrow $10,000, your property must be appraised for at least $14,000.” I was heartbroken, but still had faith. I returned to my reference of choice, The Yellow Pages, called a few real estate appraisers and my lowest quote was $250 for an appraisal. I remembered how God moved mightily beforehand when I needed $250 to transfer the property…and supernaturally He made a way out of no way. Therefore, I had $250 of faith to believe that I’d be able to have an appraisal. If God did it before, I trusted He could do it again.
Two weeks later, I received a telephone at the IRS from Mr. Tom Nestle of Tom Nestle Appraisers. He inquired, “I hear you need an appraisal.” I retorted, “I sure do.” We setup an appointment a few days or so later at the property’s location. “How much is this going to cost?” I asked. He answered, “There’s no cost to you because the bank’s going to pay for it. Because of the small size of your requested loan ($10,000), you qualify for the bank’s ‘mini-mortgage’ program. The bank is covering my fee and there’s no charge to you.” I responded, “Can we meet at 2:00p.m.?” The date and time were set.
At the appointment, one of Mr. Nestle’s appraisers arrived at the rental property. I ran to the driveway excited to meet him. We exchanged business cards and I politely said, “I sure hope this house is worth at least $14,000.” I opened the front door, invited him in, and followed him into the living room. Next, he ventured into the first of two small bedrooms. As we left the room, I pounded the wall and said, “This house is solid and sounds like it’s worth at least $14,000.” I could tell that I was getting on the man’s nerves when he asked me to stay in one area as he continued his appraisal process.
As he wrapped up, he headed out the door, and I approached him on the driver’s side. I said with confidence looking back at the house, “Sir, I don’t know about you, but to me this house has got to be worth at least $14,000.” The appraiser told me that the bank would relay the final outcome of the appraisal as they paid for the report. “They’ll let you know if you get approved or not for the loan. You will not have access to the appraisal,” he stated before his departure, “They’ll be in touch.”
About a week later, the bank called me while I was at work at the IRS. The loan officer indicated, “Your appraisal report came back and the house was appraised for $13,000.” Fearing the worst, I shouted, “Oh, no!” The loan officer interrupted and continued, “The house was appraised for $13,000 and the land was valued at $1,000. Your total appraisal is $14,000! Congratulations! Whenever you’re ready, you can pick up your check for $10,000.”
I left my desk immediately, raced down to the bank, and signed stacks of paperwork. When the last document was signed, I was given a cashier’s check for $10,000 with my name on it. I asked the officer to photocopy this check and reissue it in both of my parent’s names. (I had never seen that much money with my name on it before!)
I went home asked my parents to meet me in the kitchen (…where I first began this faith journey). I handed them the cashier’s check payable to them for $10,000. My Mom couldn’t believe it. She shouted, “Boy, you’ve got some kind of God on your side!” Dad was pretty surprised, too. They used this check and bought their retirement home where they live to this day.
I’ll always remember that summer of 1991 and how God blessed me to buy my first house – miraculously in faith – when I had nothing else. That year, I learned the essence of Luke 1:37, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” I pray this real-life story gives you encouragement, refreshes your faith in God, and provides you strength in the Lord to secure your current (and/or future) home, house, land, and real estate property. Since “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,” I believe that the Lord owns it all anyway, so what He’s done for Abraham, Joshua, the Israelites, me, my wife (Davida) and family, then He can do the same for you, yours and others, too! For each of the five homes that we’ve been blessed by the Lord to own over our lifetime, we prayed for and walked around every home in faith! This principle worked on this under 750 square foot home no different than our former home that was about 3,000 square foot. Glory be to God!
[Note: The featured picture originated from KCM.org, which is the ministry of Kenneth and Gloria Copeland.]