It is the story of every church, not only our church. It is the unceasing and unlimited work of God in His church. God’s work exceeds our imagination and is far beyond every mind. What we are going to write here is a testimony of the marvelous work of God; who supported us when we failed, and encouraged us when we despaired. We testify here our weakness to glorify His holy name.
Searching for a Church
Because of the maintenance problems we suffered from the previous church building, which was nearly 80 years old, we decided to search for a newer and larger building to facilitate the many church activities. We prayed for this matter. After search and communication for many months, we failed to find one. We decided to look for a piece land to purchase that was about 2 to 5 acres. We wanted it to be close to the congregation of the church, near major highways, and provided with municipal services. All the lots we found that fit the criteria were very expensive (average $60,000.00/acre). Our belief was that God has a lot for us somewhere; we'll get it in due season. This faith encouraged us during the time of despair.
After searching for a long time, in February 2000, we went to see a lot, which was advertised in the newspaper. We found that it was not suitable for us, a situation we faced many times. Feeling discouraged, yet again, we saw another large piece of land, 12 Acres, near the previous lot, which had a “for sale” sign. It was perfect in every way, with an unbelievable price of $250,000. Immediately we called the owner to convince him to sell us only 6 acres because the total price exceeded our capability. But he insisted to sell it entirely, and he asked us to talk to his lawyer. The lawyer responded with, “We already have an offer of $350,000. It is pending approval. Call me tomorrow to update you.” We thought maybe this was an attempt to increase the price. We continued our prayers that the Lord may guide us.
We called the lawyer the following day, who said that the approval of the previous offer did not go through. The lawyer asked “how much you will offer?” We said, “The same price the owner asked for--$250,000.” The lawyer answered, “You will get the land contingent upon rezoning.” The owner was having trouble selling his land because no one could get the land approved to rezone the residential zoning.
Trials and obstacles
The church applied for rezoning from “Residential” to “Institutional” and paid the fees. On March 7th , 2000, Fr. Rewis and some church members attended the committee meeting for public hearing. We talked about our project together with an introduction about the Coptic Church and its heritage before the committee members and the future neighbors. Making a decision was delayed for three continuous meetings, as a result of the so of the committee members’ desire to see the land rezoned as “Commercial” for the benefit of collecting both property and sales taxes; big revenue which would be lost by building “a non profit organization”.
On Tuesday, March 28th, the church’s rezoning proposal was delayed for the fourth time to meet certain requests made by the mayor. The deadline for submitting the new plan for rezoning approval, after meeting these requests, to be put into the next meeting’s agenda in 3 weeks, was the next day! We wondered, “How could we find an authorized architect to solve the added problems, and do the drawings in such a very short time?! It was 8:00 PM, and the drawings, which usually need 2 to 3 weeks of work, needed to be ready the next day?!”
During our desperation, some began to wonder if this was God’s will. Suddenly, while we were still sitting at city hall, a man walked up to one of us and said, “You look like you need help.” He offered to help us and introduced himself saying, “I am a developer who developed most of the land around here. You need a plan. Time is running out. Let's talk to the city planning director and ask if we can meet him tomorrow morning and plan for the next meeting?” In spite of our expectation that this man will charge us a lot, we agreed to accept him after a short discussion among the attending church board members, since it was the only available solution before us.
The man then gave us a card and said, “This is my card. If you lose my card, you will lose me. I am not in the yellow pages. I am not in the white pages. I am not in any directory of any kind. My office is five hours away from here. My cell phone number is on this card.” On the card also had this man's name (Kevin), company (Bioneer Planning Engineering), and an odd Wisconsin address written on it. Kevin asked one of us to meet him the next day in the same place, at 7:00 AM. He didn’t propose any charges. Later that evening, We called Kevin to confirm the meeting the next day and answered some of Kevin's questions about the land. Kevin also mentioned that he charges $4,000 for the blueprint and $20,000 for designing the land.