A true, haunting story excerpt from GHOST BUBBLE :
He said he had a vision. He said God “parted the veil of reality” and revealed a long line of sleek A-frame structures on a plain of endless sand. His understanding of the vision was that he was to build a school for teaching righteousness and morality to all comers. He was so excited to get started that he bought the first available acreage he came to with structures already on it.
Never mind that the structures were low-to-the-ground, dilapidated, concrete bunkers arranged in a circle in a forest, they were close enough to a long, straight line of sleek A-frames in a sandy plain, so he went to the bank to borrow the money. It was determined that renovating and refitting the bunkers to make them structurally acceptable would cost $268,000. Add the land cost of $240,000 for a total of $508,000.
To his congregation he relayed his vision from God, and preached a series of sermons, Faith Builds Mountains*, asking for love offerings, and donations, and special gifts, all dedicated to building his ‘mountain,’ a school for teaching God’s Word in his special buildings.
By the way, he never once made the connection that A-frames and bunkers are not the same thing. Apparently, nobody else did, either because on a rainy night, as he told it, a stranger knocked on his door and handed him $420,000 saying, “I want you to have this gift.” In reality the stranger was his father, and the 420K was all of his retirement money, and it was not a gift, because he absolutely wanted to be repaid within the next ten years.
The preacher secured the maximum loan for which he qualified, $80,000. Love offerings and charitable gifts from his congregation made up the difference.
In his mind he had $568,000 dollars in cash. It didn’t matter that $560,000 of it was borrowed money. He was sure that heaven had put his fate in his own hands.
One day he marched into the real estate agent’s office and slapped a check for $240,000 on the desk, and exclaimed, “God has blessed me with cash!” Then, an hour later, he repeated the same action and statement with his chosen builder, handing over $268,000 in advance.
A number of things happened after that :
- Even if nothing else went wrong, as enthusiasm overshadowed rational processes, he had failed to think of several key components. There was no dining hall, no kitchen, no working sewage system, no passable driveway, no bath rooms – in fact, no plumbing of any kind, no heating or cooling, and no fencing to guard the property. Altogether, the extra costs for his un-thought-of’s was in excess of one million dollars. But, that’s just for us to know, because he would never even get that far.
- It was discovered that the reason the land contained a number of low-to-the-ground, concrete bunkers was because the land was fill dirt over a toxic chemical-waste dump. The bunkers had been built to house monitoring equipment which was stolen, long ago. The toxic-dump disclosure documents had been in the closing papers, and he had been urged to read them, but he had refused because, “God is handling this.” The result? He couldn’t use the land…for anything.
- At least he could get back the money he gave the builder, right? No. The builder had disappeared with the money, and was never heard from again.
- When the congregation discovered that their hard won and lovingly given gifts had been squandered by carelessness, the preacher fell from favor, and was fired.
- Stress got the better of the preacher, and he died of a heart attack.
- The bank still holds the preacher’s wife accountable for the $80,000 loan.
- The preacher’s father could not pay back his retirement-account loan, and of course, couldn’t live off the proceeds of a tapped-out IRA. At the age of 88 he had to go back to work. Fairly soon stress killed him, too, but not his wife, who still struggles to get by, though the financial preparations she and her husband had made early in life would have provided fair comfort.
- Everybody lost.
*Biblical scripture actually says “…faith that can move mountains…,” but as you can see, that’s just one more thing he got wrong.
Read more in GHOST BUBBLE by Andy Bozeman, a Kindle e-book, available HERE.
Buy a subscription
just for yourself.
Give a subscription
who might need help
building or remodeling.
who needs to see HBT.