At Easter we again went up to Horsforth, to see Lawrence and Eileen, since it wasn’t really possible for them to come and stay at Roffey and we wanted them to see Luke as much as possible. Ben and Luke had become great friends and I took the opportunity to film them playing together.
A decision to move
Back at Roffey I was feeling uncomfortable that we were being accommodated in one of the best flats in the college, whilst we were also letting out our own flat in Reigate. The rent for the flat covered the mortgage, but we weren’t making any extra money from it. I strongly resisted any suggestion that we should sell it and give the money to the ministry, which was what some other couples had done. This seemed to me to be very irresponsible and bound to cause problems in future years, if one wanted to leave the ministry. However, it serves to illustrate both the community nature of life at Roffey, and also the zeal and commitment that was the norm amongst the team. Besides, I wasn’t sure exactly how long God had called us to work with Bob Gordon, I felt that it wasn’t a life long calling, but that I was called whilst I had a job to do. It seemed to me only a matter of time before we were ‘rehoused’ to a smaller flat, such was the need for accommodation. Although we were trusting God for the finances we required on a daily basis, I also felt that we also needed to step out in faith a little more and help the ministry by relieving some pressure on the available housing.
Buying a house with no income
The answer was to share the ownership of a house with others. This was a common practice in the fellowship, the lawyer who was attached to Roffey had once drawn up an agreement between eleven different stakeholders in a house! We approached both sets of parents and also John Rowell, who was the bursar at the College. He had some equity that he was prepared to invest in a house.
However, we still needed a mortgage but we had no tangible income.
John Bridger, our mentor from Redhill Baptist Church, who had studied at Roffey the year before us, came to the rescue. He was a former Building Society Manager for the Woolwich and organised a mortgage for us. In those days you didn’t have to show a proof of earnings to qualify for a mortgage, but we just put down on the form what we thought God was going to provide for us that year!
There was a pastor attached to the college who was a retired minister and it made sense for him to move into our flat at Roffey and since we liked the house he owned nearby, we offered to buy his semi. When we went to view it, he had a coal fire blazing away in the living room which heated a back boiler for the radiators. It was very warm and cosy! It turned out appearances can be deceptive!
The first challenge was to pay the deposit to the building society. Once we had sold our flat in Reigate, I withdrew every penny from the bank and along with any spare cash we had at home, I went down to the building society and tipped all the loose change onto the counter and counted it up, which drew some strange looks from the building society staff. I handed it over, and was relieved to find I had a couple of pounds left over to buy some food for the next few days until we moved.
We had arranged for a company to pick up our furniture from Reigate and move the rest of our belongings from the flat at Roffey into the new house. They needed paying the day before we moved. However, we didn’t have the money! That night, we sat down to pray with our friend Jacqui who was a student living with us in the flat. I hadn’t quite worked out how much money we would need the following day, but I asked God to send me a hundred and fifty pounds in the morning.
The following mornings post contained a cheque for a hundred pounds and another for fifty! I cashed them immediately.
However, when I counted up, I was five pounds short on what was needed to pay the removal people. I said to Donna that I would have to go and pay what I could and we would just think of something along the way. Who knows, perhaps God would provide the rest.
Just as I was walking down the path to the car park, Donna leaned out the kitchen window on the first floor and screamed that she had found five pounds in a drawer in the kitchen!
We moved into the house, with just 84 pence to our name. I went off on mission for a week, leaving Donna with a small child and no money. However, for the next week people brought food and baking round and we didn’t need anything. After we left this house, from time to time I would drive past it and remember what God did for us here.
People have asked me what it was like to live by faith like this. I have always said that most of the time it was horrendous! We would go from despair to exhilaration on a daily basis. Just because God had provided on one particular day, on another occasion it could feel just as hard to trust Him for something else. I never found it easy. BUT God always provided for us, and was always faithful.
On another occasion once we had moved into the house and we were paying the mortgage, I discovered that we were £30 overdrawn. This was not only a lot of money, but also we didn’t have an authorised overdraft facility as we didn’t have a regular income. Donna suggested that we prayed. However, our prayers were interrupted as I heard something come through the letterbox. I went to see what it was. It was an anonymous gift of £30 in a plain envelope!