A Vision…A Reality…A Miracle

Yesterday was spent with people from our church, riding in an RV from Delaware to Indiana, so that we could pick up a bus. It was a vision that came into reality by way of a miracle. On our trip out to Indiana, I was simply a passenger. It’s been a long time since I’ve been a passenger. I spent some time sleeping and talking. At one point I pulled out my phone and started looking at Facebook between conversations. I almost always look at my memories. I showed one of my fellow passengers the photo that came up in my memories. She is the one who had the vision for the project of getting a new bus.

The trees here in Delaware are nowhere near this level of change this year, and neither were the leaves on our trip. That led to a conversation about this time a year ago. This picture was taken sometime between the time of our Zoom interview and a subsequent interview where several members of the board came to Olean to interview us at a local restaurant.

So fast forward a couple of weeks later, I received a call from our vice-chair wanting to know if I received some pictures from her via text message. I told her no. Finally we realized she texted them to our land line. A few moments later we received the pictures via text. For the purposes of this post, I’ll only show the relevant ones:

The 1991 International school bus the church had bought used from a local school bus contractor.
A 1997 Ford Club Wagon

I was surprised to see that the church owned a bus and a van. So let’s fast forward through some details. In November we travelled to Millsboro to interview and candidate and the church voted for us to be their pastor. In January we moved here.

The Vision

In February, following worship, two members who were married to each other – one a member of the board – approached me with a vision. They were excited that Pam and I were here and excited about the ideas that we had for reaching people with the Good News of Jesus. She shared that it would be really cool if we could sell both the existing vehicles and purchase a mobility vehicle. One of the reasons is that we have several older members and the current vehicles were not exactly accessible. The were able to be used for church events, but there were some who had difficulty climbing into our current vehicles. They wanted more than to replace a van, but a new vehicle that would handicapped accessible, but also used for our Best Year’s Fellowship (senior ministry) and something reliable to use to build our student ministry. I was a bit overwhelmed at the possibility and it seemed that the cost would be prohibitive.

I brought the idea to the board at the next board meeting. There was some good feedback at the meeting, but again they shared my concerns about the cost.

Now let’s fast forward to April. We were meeting with the finance committee about setting the budget and the subject came up again – this time with some real world numbers. It really seemed like this vision was more like a pipe dream than anything else. We discussed the amount of money we might get from selling the current vehicles. At best we felt we could get $5,000 for each. Then the question became how to we sell them? This was something that is not in my wheelhouse, nor was it something that I was comfortable with. But we continued praying.

God Answers

About a week later, our vice-chair went to a crafting weekend, where she met several people and started talking about this idea. One person said, “Get me pictures of your vehicles. I have all kinds of connections to camp directors and churches that are in need.” So I sent the pictures and by the end of the day, I was already getting calls. There were several interested buyers in the bus and I was wondering how this was all going to work out. I had decided that if I got an offer of at least $3,000 I would take it and proposed that to the Trustees and they thought that was a good idea. I thought we were going to sell it immediately, but it took a few weeks. We ended up selling it to the first church that contacted us – they had dropped out of contention – but then came back.

With the bus sold, I put up a post on Facebook Marketplace and put signs in the windows of the van. The next day, I had an offer – again for $3,000. Within 48 hours that deal was complete. So we had cash in hand of $6,000, but that left us a long way from the $60 to 70,000 we going to need.

So back to the crafting weekend, our vice-chair was talking to another lady and she told us there was a Wesleyan Heritage Foundation that granted money to district churches for projects to help seniors. The mobility bus certainly fit the criteria. The vice-chair sent me the link and I put together the application for the grant – and for a long time we didn’t hear anything.

The Miracle

A few weeks ago, we heard rumblings that our application was being reviewed. They needed some additional information, so I provided that. Then we began waiting again. I’ll never forget the night we received the news that our application had been granted for almost the full amount. It was a miracle, but the vision had not yet become a reality.

The Vision Realized

Following that news, I contacted the couple with the vision and said, “What do we do now?” and she went to work, trying to find us a vehicle. Over the last few weeks, Linda is been hard at work finding the appropriate vehicle for our needs. About two weeks ago, we were able to put a vehicle on hold and then the grant check arrived and then on the weekend, we put the appropriate pieces in place for our trip yesterday.

Purchasing the bus
The pickup crew and sales rep.
The back of the interior
The right side exterior

This morning, several of our members got to get their first ride. The excitement at The Journey is high and this is creating some great momentum. We are grateful to the Wesleyan Heritage Foundation that gave us the grant. Monies are available for any Wesleyan church in the Chesapeake District of the Wesleyan Church for projects that benefit seniors.

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