Tag Archives: microloans

Churchfunding: 2017 Year-End Report

Since our “churchfunding” house loan was a public adventure, I want to give public updates from time to time. How is it working for us by now? Very well, thank God! We remain deeply grateful for our house and are making monthly repayments as planned.

(Here is the post that officially launched this churchfunding adventure. We purchased our Atlanta house on March 25, 2016, paying the seller in full immediately, thanks to loans and gifts from nearly 90 individuals or families.)

At the beginning of 2017, we owed $55,112.50 in house loans. By the end of 2017, we owed only $48,037.50. Here is the story of that $7,075 difference.

We repaid $6000 in loans in 2016 at the planned rate of $500 per month. All our “older lenders” have now been fully repaid and we have started selecting lenders of all ages for repayment, using prayer and a random number generator.

Another $1,075 in loans was forgiven this year. Two lenders turned loans into gifts, and a third clarified she didn’t want any interest after all. What a blessing!

When can the remaining lenders expect repayment?

At $500 per month, we should have all remaining lenders repaid within 8 years—before the end of 2025.

(Note: Careful readers may notice that the figures here don’t match what I reported a year ago. My figures last year were too high. When we first invited loan pledges, we received more offers than we needed, so we declined several of the last offers. A simple glitch in our spreadsheet, however, made it record these offers as if we had actually received them. It was a pleasant discovery midway through 2017 to find we owed over $5000 less than I thought! If any lenders have questions about this, please contact me directly for more details from our records.)

Cash Flow and House Happenings

Our cash flow has stabilized a lot over the past year. It helps when you don’t have to install a $10,000 AC and heating unit like last year! I continue to work three days a week for Choice Books, and piano teaching is growing. I had about eight students a year ago but I finished 2017 with about eighteen. I have another half dozen ready to begin this month. Unlike a year ago, income is pretty much equivalent to expenses, thank God.

Some of our largest expenses in the past year included braces for our oldest daughter, a new washing machine, and our biggest 2017 house project—finally installing a kitchen sink! Mark and Marj Otto and their family generously volunteered several days to help us with this project.

Here is a “before” picture:

Zonya patiently endured the above for 15 months. Can you understand why she looked like this when things improved?

Here is a photo of the kitchen sink area today:

We hope to replace or add a couple more cabinet sections over coming years, but the most urgent kitchen renovation is definitely now done.

For 2018 I expect to turn sights elsewhere, probably first to unfinished closets and hopefully to several dead trees looming dangerously in the backyard. Other projects such as a leaky shower and an unusable basement entrance will await their turn.

“The house that God bought” has seen many ministry opportunities over the past year, such as:

  • Many house church gatherings
  • Overnight guests, including Irma evacuees
  • Lending a listening ear to senior piano students
  • Sharing our yard, bike pump, and cups of water with neighbor children
  • A couple video discussion evenings with neighbors and friends
  • A “living room recital” with piano student families
  • Sheltering neighbor children during a domestic dispute
  • Hosting international students
  • Homeschooling our children

We remain deeply grateful for all our churchfunding supporters, and we welcome prayers that we will faithfully steward this house for Jesus in 2018.

For Christ and his Church,
Dwight & Zonya Gingrich


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Churchfunding: 2016 Year-End Report

I thought it would be fitting to give a brief year-end report on our house loan repayments. “Fitting” not because this is the sort of thing that is usually published publicly, but because our churchfunding activities were also unusually public. What an adventure this has been! We want to honor God again for providing for all our needs through the kindness of so many people!

(Here is the post that officially launched this churchfunding adventure.)

Renovating a room and adding a new entrance for a piano studio was one of the big house projects we tackled this summer.

Since I am an English literature major and not an accountant, I will give my report in prose instead of a spreadsheet. But rest assured, we do indeed have spreadsheets to keep track of the data. 🙂

We purchased our house on March 25, paying the seller in full immediately, thanks to loans and gifts from nearly 90 individuals or families. About 70 of those were loans.

At the time we purchased the house, we owed a total of $66,162.50. As of the end of 2016, we now owe $61,162.50. Here is the story of the $5000 difference.

We began repaying loans in April, at the rate of $500 per month. We created a pool of our older lenders to repay first, as planned. Prayer and a random number generator in Google Docs selected a person to repay each month. In some months the person selected was owned less than $500, so a second lender was chosen so we could repay the full $500 for that month.

In three months (April, June, September), when we contacted our lender to initiate repayment, they declined repayment, turning the amount due that month into a gift. In addition, another lender, without being selected, contacted us to turn a $500 loan into a gift. In all, $1,475 worth of loans was forgiven in 2016!

The total we actually repaid in 2016 was $3,525. Add that to the $1,475 forgiven, and our total loans due have been reduced by $5000 in 2016—$500 more than expected.

When can the remaining lenders expect repayment?

We still have $4875 due to our pool of older lenders. At $500 per month, that is nearly 10 months. So, unless you are reasonably senior :-), the end of 2017 is the soonest you might expect a repayment.

God willing, however, all lenders should be repaid within 10 years and 3 months—by March of 2027. (That’s $61,162.50 repaid at $500 per month.) And we have not forgotten our plans to ensure we repay a few of you well before that time.

I’ll add a brief cash flow report, too.

Our income is still less than our expenses, so our bank account is declining. But we expected this as we transition to Atlanta income. I am gradually gathering more piano students. (I just signed up another this week, making a total of eight, representing $584 of piano income most months. I hope to eventually have about thirty students.) Choice Books has provided a steady part-time income as expected, and I am continuing Open Hands writing work as I find the time. The decline in our bank account is slowing, and I am hopeful the tide will reverse sometime in the new year. Meanwhile, we do have a little short-term savings that could cover normal needs for a couple months even if income stopped entirely.

House repairs have come a long way! There are still several big projects left that will make life more pleasant, but I think most of the repairs that were urgent for the structural health of the house (sewer leak, termite treatment, pest protection, heat pump, etc.) are now done.

We had some unexpected expenses this summer due to a ministry opportunity. But this opportunity also stirred a few people to share unexpected gifts with us. I am reminded of Paul’s words:

God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work… He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. (2 Cor. 9:8, 10-11 ESV)

May God make each of us channels of blessing in 2017!

Gratefully,
Dwight & Zonya Gingrich


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Churchfunding a House in Atlanta: Official Launch

Do you want to help our family buy a house in Atlanta? Thanks to widespread enthusiasm and the support of key friends and advisers, we’ve decided to try an experiment in churchfunding—crowdfunding done by the church of Jesus Christ. (See here for the story of how this idea began, and see here for our decision to move to Atlanta.)

Update: See Update 6 for how to send the money you have pledged. See also Update 1, Update 2, Update 3, Update 4, and Update 7 to read the unfolding story. As of 8:00 a.m., 10/30/2015, the pledge total is $69,635.05.

Before I share another word, I want to declare our full dependence on our sovereign God: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Prov. 16:9). This plan is in God’s hands. If it will bring glory to Christ, may it prosper! If not, may he revise it thoroughly as he sees best.

In This Post

Click on these titles to navigate within this post:

Basic Information

The big idea:

  • Raise $80,000 to buy a house in Atlanta, as we move there to join Steve and Christy Smucker in church planting.
  • Anyone may contribute a loan of any size toward this goal. We are offering 10% interest (total, not compounded) on your loan. Some supporters are surprising us by offering interest-free loans or gifts instead.
  • We will repay $500 monthly, so that everyone is repaid in random order sometime within the next 15 years or less. (If we are able, we would like to repay sooner.) 10/30/15 update: Thanks to gifts and interest-free loans, we are now on target to complete repayments three years earlier than expected! So you can now expect repayment sometime in the next 11 years and 9 months, not 15 years. 🙂

How to get involved:

  1. Pledge your level of support as soon as possible.  Send your name, the amount you are pledging, your mailing address, your phone number, and your email address to dghousefund@gmail.com.  (We need this data for repayment purposes). Also, if you want to send an interest-free loan or a gift instead, please clearly specify in your email.
  2. Tell other potential lenders. Then watch the pledges grow. The more widely this is shared, the more likely we will reach our goal in time to make an offer on the house we have selected. Please share widely! We will post updates on both Facebook (Dwight Gingrich House Fund) and my blog (subscribe here), so signing up to one of these will be the easiest way to stay informed.
  3. Send your pledge money when we request it. When pledges near a total of $60,000, we will ask you to send your pledge ASAP. (Update: We have now passed that mark, but still email a pledge before you send your money.)
  4. Pray as we make an offer on a house.
  5. Praise God as we announce a house purchase.
  6. Wait to receive a “surprise” loan repayment sometime in the next 15 years.

We have already received about $10,000 in pledged loans and gifts! The pledges range in size from $75 to $2000, with most being either $250 or $500. Any amount is helpful!

That’s all some of you will need to know. You may contact us right now to offer your pledge, or read on for more details.

Why You Might Want to Help

You will want to help if…

  • You know Zonya and me and want to encourage us as our family moves to Atlanta.
  • You know Steve and Christy and want to bless them by helping their new teammates join them.
  • You want to see an ABC (Anabaptist-accented, Bible-based, Christ-centered) church planted in Atlanta.
  • You think Christians today should find ways to imitate the mutual care of the early church (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-35).
  • You want unbelievers to witness Christians loving each other.
  • You want to join a 21st-century version of an Amish barn-raising.
  • You like the church better than the bank.
  • You want this experiment to be repeated by others.
  • You are happy to see us leave Leon, IA. (Okay, we hope that’s a joke!)

And if you want to help but chose not to, we understand that, too. 🙂

A Note About Gifts

We are not asking for gifts. This is designed as a reproducible experiment in God’s people offering microloans. But God’s people also give. So if you wish to give a gift, it will be a great blessing, and we will humbly say Thank You!

If you decide to give, please be aware that only 90% of your gift will go toward our fundraising total. The other 10% will be divided between two charitable needs:

  1. Christian Aid Ministries’ “Middle Eastern Crisis” programs—caring for those made homeless by war.
  2. The Missions Training Center in Queens, NY. This ministry of the Biblical Mennonite Alliance has a goal of raising about $100,000 more toward their building fund yet this year. (Their projected total purchase cost is about 1.1 to 1.3 million dollars.)

Questions and Answers

Questions:

Answers:

  • What is your target date? As soon as possible! We are ready to make an offer as soon as we have the funds.
  • Why $80,000? We are interested in a house that is listed at $75,000, and we heard a cash offer for $70,000 was recently rejected. $80,000 allows us to offer the full asking price, plus have room to either offer a bit more or do some repairs.
  • How is $60,000 enough for making an offer? Our families are giving us gifts that will provide about $24,750. While we expect to use these gifts for repairs and a little remodeling (knocking out walls to turn a bedroom into a dining room), they would allow us to make an offer once our pledges reach about $60,000. Then additional pledges would be used for repairs and remodeling.
  • Why shouldn’t I send the money immediately? Two reasons: (1) If we fall far short of our fundraising goal and need to apply for a loan to make up the difference, unusual cash flow patterns in our bank account could make it harder to qualify for a loan. (2) If we end up with too little to buy a house, there is no use you having sent your loan.
  • When will repayments begin? Repayments will begin, God willing, either (a) one month after we close on a house or (b) 6 months after we first asked the loans to be sent to us—whichever comes first. Thus (a) you can expect repayments to begin no later than 6 months after sending us your money and (b) we can have a 6-month window for finding another house, should our first selection fall through. Please note: If we need to supplement this churchfunding with a small bank loan, the bank loan will need to be repaid first. However, the churchfunding loans will still be targeted for repayment within the originally-intended 15 years.
  • Have you tried other loan options? Yes. We applied for a loan from a Georgia bank recommended by our realtor, but due to my lack of proof of past income in Atlanta they required a cosigner. (Our Iowa income was sufficient, just in the “wrong” state.) Then, since my cosigner was out of state, they could only offer an FHA loan. This kind of loan comes with lots of paperwork and restrictions, such as that an FHA inspector needs to make a list of house repairs that must be done by FHA-approved licensed contractors within a 30-day window, with ongoing inspections and… So we contacted Anabaptist Financial, but they are not yet certified to provide loans for primary residences in Georgia. That’s when I posted my just-for-fun Facebook post that snowballed into what you are reading here. We think this has potential for being more Christ-honoring than a bank loan, anyway!
  • Isn’t 10% interest high? 10% sounds high for a home loan, but it’s actually very low since it’s not compounded. Structuring the loans this way will have a total cost to our family of less than 2% APR over the life of the repayment period, saving us thousands of dollars in interest compared to a traditional bank loan.
  • What are your plans for income in Atlanta? We have several income streams in mind: (1) I plan to continue writing for Open Hands, which provided about a quarter of our income in the past year. (2) I plan to teach piano from home. This was our largest source of income during our four years in Queens, NY, during which time we were paying $1,200/month in rent. (3) I am applying for part-time work with Choice Books, which is expanding in Atlanta, and already have received verbal confirmation that  employment is likely. We also have some emergency savings that we expect we may draw on during our first year or two in Atlanta, while piano teaching and other options ramp up to speed.
  • Can you describe the house you are hoping to buy? We are interested in an older brick house with a little front room that would be great for piano teaching. (Update: This house is now pending sale to someone else, but may return to market. See Update 4 for more details.) The main floor is about 1500 sq./ft., with three bedrooms plus one we’d convert into a dining room. We hope to reserve one room for guests and might use another for hosting a university student. The living room is not huge, but large enough to host a small house church gathering. The upstairs is cute, with sloped ceilings and room for the girls to sleep, play, and do home school.  The best thing about the house is its location: an easy walk from Steves’, a library, and a couple parks, and on a street where visitors from near and far would be comfortable finding us. Sorry, I won’t post a link to the house here, because I don’t want the seller to see hundreds of extra people scouting it out! 🙂
  • How will you keep track of so many loans? Two financially-minded friends (see “who is responsible” below) created a detailed spreadsheet specifically designed for this project.
  • How is this different from GoFundMe? Not that much different, besides the fact that no one will be taking about 8% off the top like GoFundMe does. Also, most GoFundMe campaigns are for gifts, not loans.
  • Is this legal? Just to be sure, we asked an attorney to review this plan, and he didn’t see any problems.
  • Who is responsible for this churchfunding idea? Three answers: (1) I confess I first posted the idea, though in jest. (2) As people started liking the idea, small businessman Jesse Kropf first sketched how it might actually work, and CPA Rodney Troyer added his expertise. Together they and I brainstormed for several days about how to make it work. Jesse is no longer taking any leadership role in this project, but is cheering from the sidelines. Rodney is remaining directly involved to provide crucial technical assistance and financial advice, especially during the initial stage of recruiting pledges and funds. (3) I take full and sole responsibility for all repayment responsibilities associated with this project. While I heartily thank Jesse and Rodney for their essential help, they bear no responsibility whatsoever for repaying any loans. If I fail to repay these loans, I give permission in advance for my brothers and sisters in the church of Jesus Christ to discipline me as described in Matthew 18 and related NT texts. I urge my co-church planters and my personal advisers to hold me accountable to this commitment and give them permission to help craft appropriate repayment plans if I fall short, whether through moral failure or financial difficulty.

Legal Disclaimers

You are lending money to us, Dwight and Zonya Gingrich, on a personal basis. This is a trust-based transaction, and there is no legal recourse if you are not paid back. We are promising to repay the loans, and we will do our utmost to keep our promise, including selling assets if necessary, but these loans are not collateralized by our home or assets. You agree not to take legal action against Dwight and Zonya (or Jesse Kropf, Rodney Troyer, or our church partners or advisers) in the event of any problems with this process. Please do not invest money that you can’t afford to lose, or money that you will need sooner than 15 years from now. All investors agree to be paid back at a random time in the next 15 years, at the specified rate. You agree that the interest you may receive will not be compounded or adjusted for time loaned. In addition, if you ask to be repaid sooner than the random schedule provides for, you agree to forfeit any interest owed to you, at our discretion. These loans are not secured or insured by the FDIC, are not bank deposits, may lose value, are not bank guaranteed, and are not insured by any federal government agency. By sending money to Dwight Gingrich via mail or electronic payment, you agree to be bound by these terms and conditions.

Addendum: If, for legal reasons, someone making a larger contribution (say, in excess of $2,500) needs a promissory note, we would be glad to provide one.

Personal note: If you are not comfortable lending under these conditions, then please do not lend. We will not be offended! We have no interest in recruiting lenders who may later turn around and try to sue us if we are unable to repay on schedule. Most of the best things in life (like marriage and church families and even a working economy) are built on trust, with no certain guarantees about the future. They involve opening ourselves up to potential hurt. In accepting your loans we, too, open ourselves up to potential hurt. If we cannot repay, many precious relationships could be damaged. But I have no guarantee of anything even as small as my next breath! So I live by faith, resting in the only One who has all in perfect control. It is for the sake of his name, and the name of his son, Jesus Christ the Lord, that we embark on this experiment!

And if I may dream just a little… it would please me greatly to see this experiment repeated many times by God’s people. I look forward to the day when I can help churchfund the needs of another Kingdom citizen!

I’ll end by quoting this from a friend and mentor, who is exactly the kind of supporter we welcome. I asked him a few days ago to either withdraw or reaffirm his support for this churchfunding plan. This was his response:

I still think it is a really great idea and would give people like me who love you a chance to be part of your lives and move to Atlanta. Frankly, I’m not worried about things going South. If that happens and you couldn’t pay me back I would feel like I helped a really great family. If you can set up a simple tracking system and not lose track of any person who contributed, I think that would be great. It doesn’t have to be super complicated.

Thank you for your interest!

For Christ and his Church,
Dwight Gingrich


Printable file of this post:
Dwight Gingrich House Fund – Handout


If you have questions or responses, feel free to contact me privately or write a comment below. I may update the Q&A section above based on your responses.


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