“Pinch me,” I thought as I wandered throughout the 17-room home – my home. College students were in nearly every room talking, laughing and playing games. Cars were everywhere; laughter drifted from the open windows as I made my way toward the barn. I climbed the stairs to the glass observation area to watch a game of volleyball. I had counted more than 60 students on this Friday evening. The gym lights were making the electric meter spin out of control, yet it did not matter. I smiled again, as I thanked God for His abundant provision that was above and beyond all I could ask or think. My heart was overflowing with joy.
It was 1978. We were missionaries with Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC, now known as Cru). Miraculously, we had been blessed with this 17-room home in which to live for a year while we worked at numerous local college campuses. My husband, Mark, and I had struggled to raise our financial support, but were nearly finished; we were lacking what amounted to our housing allowance. With all we owned in storage for the past year, we deeply longed for a place to call home and to be on campus engaged in ministry.
We were in the right place at the right time. To this day, I marvel at how the events unfolded. We arrived in Boston late on a Wednesday to attend a CCC training. The pastor who had married us two years earlier now lived in the Boston area; we were staying at their home. The morning after we arrived, a church member stopped over with a very specific and exciting request. The wealthy owner of the estate where he worked had passed away on Tuesday. The family needed a year to settle the estate and someone to live in the home during that time. The home was filled with antiques, so they needed someone who would respect the furnishings but also make the home look lived-in and busy. The pastor thought that my husband and I might be up to the challenge. He vouched for our character, the family agreed, we accepted the offer, and we began to move in later the next day. God’s timing for this lavish gift was perfect.
The house was completely free to us. God provided us with a groundskeeper, four-car garage complete with a car wash, a furnished home and a large barn, which contained a gym. God also knew that the campus ministry had struggled to develop a deep sense of community among the students; events were poorly attended. Competing with off-campus drinking parties was challenging. Now we had a home 25 minutes from campus, a location that afforded students a relaxed place for connection, a gym and the chance for them to stay overnight with us from time to time. Once the students had made the effort to travel to our home, they did not leave quickly. They tended to remain until the early hours of the morning. Our Friday night events began to be very well attended. Sometimes, I was not sure how many students were present as they just kept showing up and bringing their friends. Everyone brought food to share. Mark is a great guitarist, so we always had music. It seems that we had an event at our home nearly every Friday night for the entire school year. I look back with the fondest memories, as this was one of the most joyful times of my life. We were living in a lovely home, for free and able to minister lavishly to students. Lives were being changed as students were giving their lives to Christ and finding a rich community among fellow believers.
I recall cleaning up from the party and putting the house back in order on Saturdays and realizing I was singing and smiling. Housework has never been more joyful for me. God was teaching me how to be a gracious hostess and how to joyfully share all that I owned. Over the course of the year, the antiques moved out and our humble furnishings moved into the home. Our simple belongings looked so wonderful to me. They were humble, but they were ours, and I was honored to share what we owned with the students.
God met the obvious need of a campus ministry in a very unique way. We were the blessed recipients of His lavishness. A few months earlier, I had begged God to make it possible for us to rent an apartment we had seen. I had fallen in love with it and had earnestly sought God in prayer, but He remained silent. I knew to wait, that He had something else, but I could not imagine anything more perfect than this apartment. But our amazing God had something above and beyond my wildest imagination.
For one entire year, we inhabited that lovely home. We never saw the utility bills, including phone bills. To say that we were blessed beyond measure would be an understatement. I confess, I have a wild imagination, but this home was beyond all that I could imagine. Only God could have made this possible in my life. To this day, when I find myself frustrated about not getting what I desire and feel God is not answering my prayer, I am often reminded of that wonderful year in Boston. In those moments, I whisper to myself, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine … to him be glory … forever and ever” (Ephesians 3:20-21).
I am delighted to share this story of abundant provision with you. We can be sure that we are blessed, even when God says “no” or “not now.” Often the blessing is just a day away!
Cindy Anderson is a pediatric occupational therapist who teaches and writes curriculum for the children’s ministry at Brockport Free Methodist Church in New York.
1. Have you been disappointed about a missed opportunity and then had a better opportunity become a reality? If so, do you believe God worked for your good in the situation?
2. When most people receive a blessing from God, do they give Him proper credit as this author does?