“If You Build It, They Will Come”
By Anna Perlini
“If you build it, they will come” was a popular saying from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams, which inspired multitudes to dream big.
The fact is that they were already coming, but our house was getting too small. I’m talking about young volunteers coming to get training and join in on our activities in the former Yugoslavia, where we had been renting a house for several years, which also served as an office and base for our humanitarian work.
One day a friend who was passing through dropped the idea: “You should get a bigger place. Buy a property and build a bigger and more suitable house, and stop wasting money on rent.”
Until then we had considered renting a bigger place, but buying a property, much less building a house, seemed way too crazy, risky, and out of our comfort zone! Where would we find the money, not to speak of the amount of paperwork involved because we’re foreigners.
Our friend, a professional fundraiser, continued, “Come on, dream big! Your work is flourishing, the need in these lands is great, and you should expand. Just start looking. I’ll help you.”
That was about seven years ago.
We started searching and fundraising. In the meantime, Europe experienced a severe economic recession, and logically it didn’t seem the best time to engage in such a big and expensive project. Nevertheless, we kept on going.
Then, in 2010 we found the land, which looked more like a jungle at the time. It definitely took some visualization power to even imagine something decent could come out of that irregular, rocky, and unlevel piece of land. This brought to mind how Michelangelo might have felt when observing the piece of marble from which he carved that amazing statue of David.
Needless to say, we went to the Lord many times for leading and confirmation. As we were about to start the legal procedure to buy the land, He told us in prophecy: “This land is the fruit of many people's sweat, tears, and prayers. You have come to the kingdom for such a time as this, so claim it for My glory. Proceed in faith and in wisdom, and I will cement your unity. Now is the time. I am leading you step by step. Trust in Me. In all your ways acknowledge Me and watch Me direct your paths.”
Our small team of volunteers had little to no experience in the field of building. My husband, a teacher and musician all his life, now close to 60, got his work clothes on and started delving heart and soul into this new challenge. Friends offered to help with materials and specialized manpower, and we all fought together day and night for what had become not just our dream but an aspiration for many friends as well.
That same year the land was leveled and the foundation was laid, which was quite an encouraging start. But then paperwork, bureaucracy, and technical complications delayed progress, and the following year brought a series of frustrating disappointments. At times we seriously wondered if we were doing the right thing and what the heck we’d gotten ourselves into.
Again, the Lord gave us some encouraging words:
You are helping to change people's lives by getting them in touch with a different perspective, a different world, by inspiring them to give and making them think of ways they can be a blessing to others. By living with you for a few days, watching you and seeing your love in action, they also get a chance to see Me in you. The way you live is also a testimony that needs few words of explanation; the fact that you dedicated your lives to serving Me and others is thought-provoking and powerful. People who come to visit you are attracted by this aspect of things.
I have placed a great calling in your hands. For this reason I raised up and will yet raise up more people to help you materially, to help you finish this building and give you extra help in your projects, so you can help the needy even more effectively. It has been a difficult year, but you will need to fight to maintain the same focus, because many are waiting to see if you really are serious. Many are waiting to get involved and join you in this effort. Many more lives will be changed in the course of things.
During the summer some friends came by and decided to build us a pizza oven. In our guest book one of them wrote, “I am convinced that all the hard work, sweat, laughter are not in vain, but all are needed ingredients for this new center, where many people will unite in friendship and joy to help build a better world.” That was vision-increasing!
After more months spent in prayer, patience, and steadfast faith, we were ready to build. Everything was in place, and finally things started moving faster.
In June 2013 we moved in, had a busy summer, and in September we held a simple but very moving inauguration. The place is called “Home.” Our friends, the volunteers who worked endless hours, the ones who shed sweat and tears, the young people who had been visiting, all voted for this name.
We still have a hard time fitting in all the people who visit during summer camps and throughout the year. We have one more floor to build and much more work to be done on the outside. But it’s a dream come true, way beyond our expectations. It has served as a home to many, and we are thankful we didn’t give up along the way.
If you build it, they will keep coming…