Sue and I bought our house in 1983, the year before our first child was born. It was in Whitechapel in London's East End, not far from the small council flat we had been renting. We had chosen to settle in this area for the long term because we believed God had called us to live among the predominantly Bangladeshi population as servants of Christ and as his witnesses. We were not linked with any mission agency but worked in normal jobs, I as a chartered accountant and Sue a research scientist. In the 1970s and 80s the area was very deprived, and apart from the 18th century Huguenot houses in and around Fournier Street, was completely unfashionable, and our house was one of the very few homes available for sale, set in the midst of large council estates.
When we moved in, the house was in very poor shape, badly soiled by the numerous pets of the previous occupants, and damaged by their various botched DIY jobs; they had recently acquired it under the new Right to Buy scheme. It took a huge amount of effort on our part to make the house liveable in. A disaster came about 12 years later - the original (1962) large cold water tank in the roof had been quietly rusting away, and decided to collapse totally one summer day when we were away in Devon on a family holiday, causing extensive flood damage to the whole house. Fortunately, the insurance company served us well and organised the repair work, so that we ended up with a better house than before!
Fast forward to 2018. Friends of ours at a local church noticed that our daughters had left home and asked us if we were thinking of moving. They had in mind their new pastor and his family who wanted to live near the church, but there on the edge of inner London property values were way beyond their reach. We had not yet decided to sell or to leave London, at least not in the near future. But we already had in it in mind that if we did move, we wanted our house to go to Christians who would serve God in the area. Anyway, after some thought and prayer we decided we would at least explore the proposal. And when it seemed right for family reasons for us to move north, we decided to go ahead and sell. Mission Housing was involved from the outset, indeed without their help and hard work it would have been impossible to bridge the gap between what a pastor's family could afford and the market value of the house.
The whole process took rather longer than we all had hoped and was a test to our faith. But now, feeling very thankful to God, we are enjoying living in Sheffield, and we hear that the pastor's family are happily settled in their new home - the house we had lived in for 36 years.
(Funders) James & Sue