I hesitated.

I didn’t want to answer the question the way I knew it had to be answered. Yet, I realized that it would be irresponsible to not look at the cold numbers and respond in a factual manner.

Our goal for several years: To build a new 40-bed girls’ dormitory. Ever since we completed the Beacon Center in 2005 we had begun the planning and fundraising for this new building. It would more than double the enrollment capacity for girls. It would be spacious, unlike the current girls’ dorm. It would be quality and long lasting.

international Christian boarding schoolAnd we made great progress. By last fall, many friends had joined with us to give a total of $900,000 in cash and pledges. We had already accepted the strong possibility that we might need to finance a portion of this $1.8 million building. We made peace with that reality because a new girls’ dormitory would allow us to enroll additional students to pay for the financing. According to our calculations, if we raised $1.4 million, that would be the right fundraising goal and we would finance the rest.

Still, to get from $900,000 to $1.4 million was a considerable task, but it seemed unwise to do nothing while we waited for $500,000 more – all the while watching construction prices go up.

So last fall we broke ground with the idea that even if we did not reach $1.4 million, we could at least complete the exterior shell of the building – the foundation, steel frame, exterior covering and windows and doors. We would have that much done, and we would never have to worry about escalating prices on that portion of the building. We began construction in prayer that funds would eventually be given to allow us to continue construction and complete the building. If funds were not given and we couldn’t afford to continue, we would stop construction.

By January, we had raised a total of $1.1 million – a great blessing but still a significant distance from reaching $1.4 million.

Which brought me to the question, my hesitation, and my answer.

Judd Hubbard, our architect and construction manager, called me in January to ask me if indeed the scope of his work would be limited to building the “empty shell” building. He asked the question: “I just want to confirm that you only want me to build the shell of the building, and not finish the inside.”

And I hesitated. We really didn’t want to stop construction halfway through. After all, what good would an empty shell do us, and what would it do to the morale of Oakdale supporters to see an incomplete building?

But I steadied myself and forced out the answer, “yes, that’s all that our current funding will allow us to do.”

It almost seemed like a betrayal of faith to admit that we could only plan to partially build a new girls’ dorm. After more than seven years of planning, it looked as though the way that it would be built was by piecemeal. That’s the way I saw it; how did God see it?

Next Monday, May 6, I’ll tell about the conversation that changed everything.