There are several points in the movie “Joe Versus the Volcano” when Joe (Tom Hanks) finds himself in a tight spot but somehow, and by no effort of his own, he is saved from certain peril. On one occasion he was miraculously saved after his yacht was sunk in a storm at sea. Joe had four large water-tight trunks that he tied together and used as a raft until he floated aimlessly up to very island that was his original destination.
At the end of the movie Joe, true to his commitment to save the islanders and despite a new found love and reason to live, jumps into a volcano to meet with certain death. Miraculously, the volcano harmlessly spews him and his new love (Meg Ryan) safely into the sea where his four water-tight trunks pop miraculously to the surface right near Joe.
While floating on their raft in the middle of the sea Patricia begins to reflect on their latest miraculous escape. She points out to Joe that they now have their whole lives ahead of them. At first, Joe shares Patricia’s excitement. But then he begins to look around. Their current situation is not so rosy and his thoughts turn more grim.
“But…still…”, he says, “we’re on a raft… in the middle of the ocean…”
Without losing any of her optimism, Patricia looks lovingly at Joe and responds, “It’s always going to be something with you, isn’t it, Joe?”
But… still… We do have to pay for this…
Our pastor Slavo has been using a similar story to talk about our purchase of the property for the school. When God led the Israelites out of Egypt in the book of Exodus he took them on a path that led them to the edge of the Sea of Reeds. When the Israelites discovered that the sea was in front of them and the Egyptian army behind them, they started to to take the grim view (Ex 14:11-12).
Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
Now that the city council has approved the sale of the property for Narnia Elementary School, all we have to do is buy it. Actually, that’s like saying, now that God has miraculously freed us from the Egyptian slave lords, all we have to do is escape from their army by crossing over this sea without any boats.
But that’s why it’s so important to set up those memorials. We need to remember that it’s God who got us here and it’s God that will get us out.
Yeah, But How are We Gonna Pay for This?
That said, we must also remember that the Bible contains a fair share of wisdom literature that tells us we need to behave wisely to keep ourselves out of trouble. Faith and wisdom go together so here I’m going to share with you our concrete plans for paying off our new debt.
The tuition paid by students at Narnia has gone up this year. It’s now $400 per student per year. If you do that math, you will discover that with about 250 students that’s not enough to cover the monthly payments of the loan we’re taking out for the building, especially when that money is also for books and school supplies. But since Narnia’s vision is to reach out to all families in our city, there are no plans to raise tuition.
Already the school has received significant donations from individuals and organizations mostly from Slovakia, but also elsewhere. If you are interested in making a contribution please see the bottom of our post on fundraising for Narnia.
Sale of Property
Our congregation is part owner of a house near our church and near the city center. We plan to sell this property and have a buyer already. The money from the property, together with donations given or pledged so far, is just enough for the down payment on the school property.
Our congregation has established a legal organization called NarniaBB that will be purchasing the property and thus taking on the responsibility of the loan. The monthly payments will be covered by the rent paid by Narnia Elementary School but also by other entities that occupy the grounds. So for example, there is a private music school, a dentist, a city library, and an Assemblies of God church that rent space. Even our family will be renting out space so we can store belongings that won’t fit in our new apartment.
One Small Challenge
It all looks nice so far. But there is a bit of a catch. The loan we have acquired is a commercial loan, which means it needs to be paid off in 10 years and our monthly payments will exceed our current rent income. Narnia Elementary will need to provide the lack of funds by paying inflated rent during the course of the loan. That’s going to put a strain on the budget.
One Big God
We’d appreciate your prayers for wisdom and faith in handling this tricky financial situation. And above all, pray for the ministry of the school. As the size of the school grows it becomes a greater challenge to reach out to children and families on an individual basis. Relationships are key to outreach in Slovakia, like everywhere else in the world.