After years of searching for a new home, a vacant office, highly suitable for conversion, caught the imagination of Thurso Baptist Church. The Baptist Union of Scotland immediately offered support in the form of a loan for 50% of the purchase cost. The congregation would have to find the other 50%, along with funds to convert, so pledges were requested. Within 3 days pledges amounted to twice the target, so an offer was made subject to gaining planning permission for “change of use”.
Unusually, the vendor stipulated the payment of a 10% non-refundable deposit. Would we risk losing this significant amount of money on the unknown outcome of a planning decision? However, the Lord placed a real desire in the hearts of the congregation to proceed. Despite a robust planning application for a building which clearly had an architectural design suitable for a church, our application was refused.
By a quirk of the process, we had not yet paid the deposit before hearing of the planning refusal. Was the Lord giving us a ‘get-out?’ We could back out now with no financial loss! An emergency church meeting was called, with the quick and decisive response to step out in faith again. We paid the money immediately, despite knowing that humanly-speaking our chances of success were now greatly reduced.
Planning officials strongly recommended that councillors uphold their decision to conserve the building for business. However, every councillor present supported the church’s application, citing that “Jesus was always about His Father’s business”, and the original planning decision was unanimously overturned! Praise the Lord for His provision and for answered prayer, and thanks to our local councillors and BUS for their support.
Having completed the first phase of our conversion, we moved into the premises in June, and have already paid back half our loan. The Lord has been so faithful to us and our desire is to reach out to our community with His love and for His glory.