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"For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake." (2 Corinthians 4:5)

Bixby News

Building update following second visit

21 October 2017 | by Bixby

Thank you for many expressions of interest and for your prayers regarding the recent building opportunity our church has been given. It has been more than a month now that in a conversation with the owner of the restaurant where our church presently meets, he mentioned that he had heard somewhere of a building that was coming up for rent. That “chance” conversation has lead us on quite the wild ride! (If you want to refresh your mind on how the details, please read our blog post here). Since several have been wondering, I thought it would be good to update those who are interested to know where things stand at present in our search for a church building.

 

Zoning problem

Last week, we were able to revisit the facility. (To read more about why we believe the building is so ideal, please see here.) I went with a letter in my pocket from a Christian architect who had researched the details of the building for us to find any potential problems. His one concern was that the area in which the building is located is zoned “for commercial development only.” This, he said, could very well be a reason the mayor’s office might use to deny us authorization to use it as a church. I decided to be very open with the owner and just show him the letter from the architect, so that he would be aware of what could be a potential hurdle to us in purchasing the building. To my amazement, he told us that his partner had met with the mayor of Sarcelles just the week before (concerning another project) and while there he had talked to him about us and our desire to buy the building! This means that the mayor of the large city of Sarcelles is already aware of this possibility and gave no indication that he would want to put a stop to it! The owner continued, “Of course, if this purchase moves forward, we will go with you to meet the mayor and present the project together. Everything in this city goes through the mayor.” He expressed his own confidence that their meeting the mayor along with us would avoid any such problems altogether! It may be hard to understand how significant this element is, but the only two other options to rent that we have ever had previously were both turned down by the mayors of those neighboring cities of Sarcelles! We have never had such a positive reception from either the local government or a proprietor concerning a desire to use a building as a church! Even if God should close the door through others means, this openness on the part of the owner and city has been an immense encouragement to us that God can and does work on behalf of His Church.

 

Financial problem

For the moment, it seems the one remaining hurdle for us is the cost. While the formal offer has yet to be given, the owner did give us a hint of what they are preparing. To help us to avoid going through a bank or paying rental taxes, they will likely suggest that we would need to be able to put down 300,000€ as the down payment. This figure is mind-boggling. It has made us wonder if we should simply pull out of the negotiations. However, we feel like it would be wrong to do so at this point for the following reasons:

  1. The current owners understand that ultimately we may not be able to purchase the building, and that we are waiting for them to give us an official offer before we give them a final answer. (They are still working on their formal offer, which gives us more time.)
  2. We have never before seen God remove so many other barriers. For example, we remain amazed at the willingness of the owners to work with us so that we could avoid having to get a loan from a bank. And it is certainly no small thing that they are willing to work directly with the mayor on our behalf, essentially advocating for us, to help us avoid certain zoning hurdles that have been so frequent in the past.
  3. We believe that the same God who has already worked wonders on the parking and political zoning end can also work wonders on the financial end.

 

This is why, in the same spirit in which we first sought financial support in order to come to France, we are asking for help with this project. Our weekly meetings as a church plant are presently limited to two hours in a restaurant on Sunday mornings. The work is handicapped because of this, and our visibility in the community is limited by the fact that we don’t have a “permanent” and visible outpost. For us to establish a long-term witness in the city, we need a place where people can come, where we can meet without distraction, and where people have a haven in which to flourish spiritually. I believe that the long-term effectiveness of our church is tied to having a permanent address to which people can come. The church is not the address! However, a church is a “gathering”, an “assembly,” and we need a place that will be conducive to living out the imperatives given to the local church. Would you consider supporting this effort with a one-time donation, or with a regular, specially designated support for 5 or 10 years? Not having ever seen such a beautiful opportunity present itself before, we believe we should at least inquire among God’s people to see who would have the ability and desire to help with this project. If God does not provide, we will know that it is not because He is unable, but unwilling for us to have this building at this time. Either way, we are confident His will is always best.

 

In the previous post, you will find a letter from a French businessman who is part of the leadership here in our mother church. I think it will help you better understand the opportunity and need. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. Though we do not yet have a deadline given to us, we will probably need to know something during the month of November.

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