Recovering from Crushing Disappointment
by Ray Almaguer

Pastors Ray and Esther Almaguer have been the pastors of Family Life Christian Center since 1983. In addition to being a graduate of Rhema Bible Training Center and an ordained minister through RMAI, Pastor Ray earned an Associate of Theology degree at Bethel Christian College and also attended Southern California Christian College and earned a Bachelor degree in Biblical Studies. Pastor Ray and Esther are the parents of four sons, Isaac (Alicia), Michael, Jonathan, and Daniel. Together, they endeavor to fulfill God’s plan and purpose for their lives and ministry.

One of the ways the enemy tries to stop a church is through crushing disappointment. A few years ago our church experienced one. Our church is in Southern California. Our goal was to move into a new building. We launched a three year stewardship campaign, signed a lease on a vacant building with plans to buy it in the future, and spent over a year obtaining a zoning variance and conditional use permit from our city.

We paid for an environmental impact study, and paid for two traffic impact studies. Engineers had to be paid to determine if we had the proper drainage off of the parking lot. We spent thousands of dollars on asbestos removal, and thousands more on architect fees for a full set of blueprints and site plans. We paid for a photometric study to be sure that the lights in the parking lot wouldn’t shine into the neighbors’ windows. We had an artist provide a beautiful rendition that we passed out to the entire congregation as we cast vision for our future church home.

And we never got into the building.

I remember the fateful day when I had to get up in front of the church and inform them that we were pulling the plug on our building project. Talk about a crushing disappointment. It was as if there had been a death in the family.

Yet, looking back on it now, I truly believe the Lord was protecting our church. You see, back in 2004 when the project was underway, real estate prices were soaring. During that time we were negotiating to buy the building, but the owner kept raising the price. We paid for a commercial appraisal, but the owner wanted three times as much.

Besides all this, the building was an empty shell and it needed some major renovations. Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, and due to the rising cost of building materials the estimated cost of the renovations nearly doubled. So we pulled the plug.

Looking back on it now, had we bought the building and done the renovations at those prices, we would be in trouble right now. I didn’t know that then, but God did. God redeemed it and turned it around for good. In fact, the owner approached us and bought back the unused portion of the lease because he wanted to sell the building to somebody else. So when it was all said and done, we ended up with more money in the bank than we had when we started.

Today our church is doing well despite the economy, and we don’t have the extreme financial pressure so many others are dealing with right now. John Wooden said, “Things turn out best for those who make the best of how things turn out.”

If you have experienced a crushing disappointment, let me encourage you to keep your faith in God. He will guide your steps. He will show you what to do. He will redeem it and turn it around for good. I learned so much through this difficult time, and I am better prepared for the next opportunity.