Once again God has demonstrated that He is abundantly big enough!
Last Sunday morning, the congregation of the Vineyard Church of Chennai held its first worship service in their bright, airy and much larger facility.
Last year while we were here John Christian (pastor of the Vineyard Church of Chennai and Director of Acts of Mercy) reminded the members of the church that the lease on their old facility was going to run out and it looked like they would not be able to come to an agreement on a new lease. Sure enough, our first Sunday here John announced on Sunday during worship that this would be the last Sunday at the old facility and that Thursday, all the members should come to the church and help move all the furniture, sound equipment, instruments and anything else to the new location. Everyone was upbeat and ready for the move.
I worked at dusting and vacuuming the mixer consoles and general cleaning. The most fun of all was when Saroop (minister of Worship for the church and director of the Unwind Center) plopped me down in the midst of a pile of six broken microphone stands and asked me to salvage what I could. I studied the stands for quite a while before I discovered the secret of assembly. Then I scrounged around and found a pair of needle nose pliers and a set of Allen wrenches and set to work. I managed to come up with four complete stands and a fifth stand missing the microphone boom.
Although the cleaning and packing was going well, the location we were moving to came into question. Tuesday, Saroop asked for a key so they could make an inspection prior to the move and they eventually discovered that the place they had been planning to move to was no longer an option. So the search for a facility began again.
Once again Saroop had a lead on a location and John and I met him to see the place that seemed promising. An agreement was made and all that was required was the payment. For the second time that week, we had a new facility. On Wednesday John and I met Saroop, took the money to the make the first payment and headed back to complete the packing process. Even as we drove back there was some concern about the accessibility of the location. We had worked about an hour when Saroop got a call informing him that the man had changed his mind and that this second facility was now no longer available. Another broken promise, but not a broken spirit. We were very frustrated but stopped right then to pray that God would meet our urgent needs. Despite the frustration of that night, we held onto the belief that surely God must have something better planned for us.
Sometime during the next couple of days, a broker contacted Saroop to talk to him about a property that they had looked at back in December. When they first looked at the property, it seemed to be a wonderful location but the discussions on the rent and down payment convinced the church that this property was not affordable. When the man called Saroop to see if they had found a location, they discussed some creative financing and, although the rent was pretty well set because of the owner's cash flow, he was able to be flexible on some other matters. Saroop was grateful for these accommodations, but told the landlord that several changes to the facility would be required and it would take at least a month to make the changes necessary to begin the weekend concerts and thus, generate some cash flow. Much to Saroop's amazement, the landlord offered that Saroop should make all the changes necessary and present the bill to him for payment. He also offered that no rent would be required for the first month while the changes were being made. The beautiful facility that was dreamed of in December became a reality 8 months later, all in God's timing.
We were all amazed and overwhelmed with the realization of such a miracle. Rents and lease terms are often a challenge in India and to be offered such generous terms is almost unheard of here. The landlord is quite wealthy and owns many such properties. For him to demonstrate such generosity is remarkable. The landlord is not a church-going man. In fact, he is not a Christian (yet). However, his kindness and generosity reflect his compassionate heart. With praise and thanksgiving, church members were notified that, indeed, church would proceed in the new facility on Sunday morning.
When Sunday morning arrived, we were all excited to see the facility, but especially to worship with our friends once again. We were amazed when we arrived at the large, well-positioned location on a busy downtown street. When we walked into the 4th floor space, we were taken aback by the bright and airy look of the place, which includes a shiny new, beautiful white marble floor, two balconies and also two restrooms. From the balcony we looked out over the tops of beautiful blooming trees and imagined all the people within our view that God might be bringing to this wonderful new church building. Surely the Spirit of the Lord is in this place.
Worship at the Chennai Vineyard Church is always a moving experience; but this week, it was extra sweet. We spent time praying, in pairs or alone, all around the facility and even pouring out prayer onto the street below. John spoke about new vision and new goals for the church: outreach for the poor, ministry to neighbors, invitations to co-workers and friends, reaching out to nearby college students, and much more. The miracle of the new building not only puts a roof over our heads on Sunday mornings, but has breathed new spirit into this loving congregation. Every member recognizes the miracle for what it was - and from whom it came. A year long search ended with a last-minute treasure; broken promises were recognized as Gods directing to fulfill his covenant. Through it all, faith never wavered. Faith - believing in things yet unseen. We must praise God that, when the time is right, He is faithful to provide and, so often, it is more that we can afford without his creative financing.
"God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. For such is the nature of God."
Singing praises for the nature of God,