In 1988, we bought four restaurants and I made the worst financial stumble of my life. By 1990 we were so badly in debt I really could not see my way out of the financial disaster I had created. Our financial situation had literally brought us to the point of filing for bankruptcy. We ultimately choose not to but were at the point where that looked like the only option.
As a side note- If anyone ever wants to open their own restaurant, I have three words of advice: “Don’t do it.”
It was Thanksgiving that year, and we were at my mom and dad’s house in Virginia for the holiday weekend. At the time my mom was working for the Fredericksburg Bible Institute in Fredericksburg, Virginia and there was an elderly gentleman that had passed away and left his book collection to the Bible Institute. My mom was looking through the collection and saw a very old book by George Muller printed in the 1873. She wanted to look at the book a little closer and happened to bring it home that weekend we were there.
Listen to me here. God always has a plan for your life if you will just ask him and then trust him.
So, we were in Virginia with my parents for that Thanksgiving weekend, and Mom shows me this old book she brought home. I had never heard of George Muller and knew nothing about his life, but I opened that book and was just going to skim a few pages and look it over. When I started reading, I understood the book was his story and his daily and sometimes weekly memoirs. George Muller had felt led by God to start a children’s home in Bristol England for the growing population of homeless children. As he tells his story, he didn’t want to do it and in fact, he told God he wasn’t going to do it. Finally, God got through to him and he agreed to do it with one stipulation.
Imagine right here, having a prayer life so strong that it is like having a dialogue or conversation with God. That is the way it was with George Muller.
The stipulation was that he would do his part if God provided all the resources and expenses for the children’s home. Think of the audacity George Muller had to actually call God on his promise and put God to the test. He told God he would never borrow money for the children’s home and never put any amount on credit. He told God he would literally trust him to provide every dollar because he never wanted to have any individual or banks get the credit instead of God. The book was his periodic diary of how much money they had and what they needed for that day or that week to survive. It gave almost a daily detail of how much money he called on God to provide down to the dollars and cents. Without fail, God did his part in George’s life. By the time George Muller died, he had founded many children’s homes that looked like college campuses that were completely paid for. The homes served as an example to a country ravished by poverty of what God could do though one man.
The book literally changed my life.
I went back home and began to imitate what George did; I wrote a daily diary of the debts, payments due, and how much money I needed for that day, that week or that month. My deal with God was that I would tithe every dollar he allowed me to make, and I would always point to him as the source and the reason how we got out of debt and salvaged our financial life. Long story short, at about that time, I had begun to sell hotels and we did not file for bankruptcy, but rather we chose to pay all the money back. I met with all the creditors and told them my plan; it took us eight years, but we paid it all back. God saved us from financial disaster.
Every situation is different, and every cause is different but in my life at that moment, it was what I believed God wanted me to do.
Many years have passed since this period in my life, but even today, I can pick up that diary I wrote during that period and I cannot read it without crying because it is so raw, it takes me right back to those moments when I didn’t know how we would survive. When I read it, the emotions rise within me, and I know it was God that did it all.
Mom got the Bible Institute to sell her that book and she gave it to me a couple years later. I still have that book today in a very safe place. Should our home ever catch fire, after all the ones I love are safely out of the house, I will be going back into the house to get that book. KT