Sometimes it’s hard to believe. You know how it goes. We all believe God can do anything. “Nothing is impossible to God,” we say, yet deep inside we filter our own belief influenced by our personal experience.
A story in the book of Mark comes to mind, in which a father brings his epileptic boy to Jesus. This man loves his boy, and there is nothing he would not do to see his boy laughing and running around like any other normal boy. He has tried everything, but nothing has worked. Even the disciples had failed to drive the evil forces from this boy’s life. The father had finally come to the terminal conclusion that there was nothing anybody could do for his beloved child. Oh what a fatal condition to be in! In chapter 9, verse 21, the father says to Jesus, “… if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“If you can?” Sometimes the struggles of life are so debilitating that faith fades away and reasonable skepticism takes over. For the last few years, Livingstone Adventist Academy (LAA) in Salem has struggled under the weight of a growing debt. It came to the point where drastic changes had to be made. This past school year, the staff operated under a new project of financial responsibility, including paying the debt that had accumulated.
This could not be done without deep and painful cuts to all programs. Like many schools around this union, LAA has a very aged campus, and major repairs are needed. As rain began to fall, soon after school started, the staff realized their challenges were larger than imagined. They needed a new roof for the gym, then the roof in the cafeteria followed. One day the staff had six large trash cans strategically placed in various locations around the cafeteria, and each can was collecting large amounts of rain. Then in November a windstorm tore a section of the roof in the library. Then the staff discovered that two of the large water heaters serving the gym and cafeteria had critical cracks and could blow up at any moment.
The staff knew there was no money allocated in the budget for any of these repairs. The repairs were not optional however, if they wanted to continue operating a school. The staff began to get estimates for all the imperative repairs. The projected cost was astronomical, nothing close to what school resources could provide.
The principal sat in the solitude of his office late in the evening after students and staff had gone home. “This is too much," he thought. "It cannot be done.” The staff resorted to the only source of strength: prayer. They prayed as a staff. They prayed as a board. They prayed as a community of churches. The students prayed. Everybody prayed.
Then the sea opened.
In early April, the school had begun drawing projections for the following school year, mostly by faith because the reality wasn’t too bright. But collective faith can be an extremely powerful tool in the hand of the weak. It was then that the Lord sent the help they had been praying for. Often we pray for solutions to our immediate needs. We pray for drops of blessings, unaware of the flood the Lord is willing to unleash if we will only believe. As the staff were collectively praying and grappling with the reality of their facility, they were not aware that the Lord had already sent a savior for their school. But the Lord’s plans for Livingstone Adventist Academy went even farther than the most faithful had been able to envision. Not only was the entire debt (which was not small by any measure) completely paid off, but a plan is now in full swing to replace the old, rotting structure. No more does the school family need to worry about crumbling structures and leaky roofs.
This was a summer at LAA, but the staff could not be happier. The building committee has been working hard drawing plans and carefully looking at all the logistic challenges of building a new school. Livingstone Adventist Academy staff have seen the Red Sea open before their very eyes. They can yell from the mountaintop, “We believe! Yes, Lord, we know You can.”