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? In short, we are making monthly repayments as planned and remain deeply grateful for all who helped us purchase this house. However, there are changes to our church planting activities which I will share at the end of this post.
(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 2018, we owed $48,037.50 in house loans. By the end of 2018, we owed only $41,937.50. Here is how that $6,100 difference breaks down.
We repaid $5,470 in loans in 2018 at the planned rate of $500 per month. Why is this total not $6000? Several lenders, when offered their promised repayment, declined the 10% interest we had promised. One declined $500 in principal as well. We are thankful for this generosity!
In total, we were forgiven $630 in principal and interest in 2018. $630 plus $5,470 equals $6,100. This means our house debt declined by $100 more than we expected in 2018.
When can the remaining lenders expect repayment?
At the promised $500 per month, we should have all remaining lenders repaid within 7 years—before the end of 2025.
Cash Flow and House Happenings
Our cash flow is tighter than I predicted a year ago that it would be. I continue to work three days a week for Choice Books (extra over this holiday season), but my number of piano students plateaued in 2018. I temporarily reached 23 students, but finished the year with the same number I had a year ago—about 18. On the positive side, as was true a year ago, I have a handful of students planning to resume or begin lessons in January. If I could reach 30 students, our cash flow would be more manageable.
Our largest expense in 2018 was buying a “new” (2002) Toyota Camry to replace an old Jetta. We were not sad to see the Jetta go, though we received less than we asked for it, and slightly less than the buyer promised to pay. Other “extra” expenses included a Greek class for me (highly recommended—see here), cello and violin lessons for our two oldest daughters, and some business tax I had overlooked.
House projects in 2018 were very minor. A hall closet finally got proper shelving:
And, much to the mutual relief of thirsty neighborhood children and a mother weary of distributing drinks, we installed a fountain in our front yard!
The dead backyard trees and leaky shower and unusable basement entrance I mentioned a year ago are still awaiting their turns.
Meanwhile, we experienced our first significant flooding in our basement just this past week, due to heavy rains. A leaky and inadequate city sewer line through our yard exacerbated the problem. Priya and I carried out about 100 gallons of water in pails. I expected this would happen sometime. Now we know where the “weak points” are. I am hopeful we can seal off some of the leaks and slow the flooding next time.
House prices in our neighborhood continue to rise. More vacant homes are being refurbished and inhabited, including on our own street. The real estate website Zillow, which estimated our house value at $81,000 back in March 2016 just before we bought it for $65,000, now estimates our house is worth about $188,000. It predicts the value could increase by around 15% in the next year to nearly $216,000. God knows and time will tell.
“The house that God bought” saw many ministry opportunities over the past year, such as:
- 23 Sunday morning church gatherings (avg. 13 in attendance)
- Several Bible study sessions
- Many piano students and a “Living Room Recital”
- Sharing our yard, bike pump, and fountain with neighbor children
- Sharing food with hungry people knocking at our front door
- Hosting international students for Thanksgiving
- Homeschooling our children
In early November, however, the couple who invited us to Atlanta to join them in church planting decided to step out of this church planting effort. The Smuckers are focusing instead on other learning and ministry opportunities in the community. As a result, Followers of Jesus Church Atlanta is no longer an active gathering.
Our family is seeking God’s direction for this changed situation. We have opened up ourselves to the counselors who helped us during our decision to move here. Meanwhile, we have been attending a church on the east side of the city, Cellebration Fellowship, where my Choice Books supervisor and his family have also recently started attending. The pastor and church there have shown us grace.
We realize that many of you who supported us in our churchfunding house loan project did so in part because you were excited about supporting a church plant effort. We have not given up on this possibility, but feel a need to re-evaluate this goal in light of changed circumstances.
We welcome your prayers as we seek God’s light for life and ministry in the coming year. If you have questions or counsel, we invite you to contact us privately.
We remain deeply grateful for all our churchfunding supporters. We want to faithfully steward this house for Jesus in 2018 and be salt and light in our community.
For Christ and his Church,
Dwight & Zonya Gingrich