1985 was a good year for David Jackson. The real estate investor had done so well that when Bill Clark, an acquaintance who owned a successful financial planning firm, approached him for a $30,000 loan for a real estate venture, David entered the deal with little trepidation—a move that would impact his life decades later.
Things seemed to be going well at first. Bill used the money to purchase about 135 rental properties in South Dallas County for 50 cents on the dollar. His plan was to refurbish them and sell them to clients. Though many of them had sold, the Tax Reform Act of 1986 took effect and caused the housing market to crumble. The banks that held Bill’s titles went under and the FDIC took them
over and called in all of his notes, which meant he would have to come up with nearly $1.2 million immediately.
Unfortunately, he only had $400,000. The bank took it along with all the properties—including his own home—and Bill filed Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. He had no way of paying back David’s loan and was no longer legally obligated to do so, though he promised he would. He didn’t even have enough money for a car.
“I had to go to my dad and say, ‘Dad, can you cosign a note’—I was thirty-something years old,” says Bill, thinking back to one of his low points. Even lower was when his wife left him soon after. Here he was, completely broke and alone, but God was working on him.
“It was really about God’s grace,” he says. “I was telling everybody I was a great Christian, but my walk with God was pitiful.”
Bill spent the next 20 years at Sojourn Church, where his walk with God began to flourish and he got back on his feet financially. He reopened his financial planning firm in 2003 and began attending Gateway’s Frisco Campus. By 2013, David Jackson was a vague memory until he heard God say, “I want you to pay back David his $30,000. To which he responded, “‘Great! David, who?’ I hadn’t seen him for 30 years and I couldn’t remember his name,” says Bill. However, tracking him down proved easier than he thought.
David Jackson, who remains a commercial real estate broker, has long since recovered from the crash that lasted from 1986 to 1993. However, he’s not faring so well in the wake of 2008’s Great Recession. “God has had my family—my wife and I—on the ‘manna plan,’” he says.
“In other words, He’s provided every single month, but just enough so that we were never late with a payment, but not enough to really start aggressively paying down debt.” Every month, they prayed for manna, and every month, God provided a miracle—many times when it looked impossible.
David and his family were also attending Gateway’s Frisco Campus, but he had no idea he was often in the same room with Bill. In November of 2012, he decided to advertise his services in the Gateway Business Directory. When the directory came out, he saw a full-page ad for Bill’s financial planning firm. “There’s Bill!” he exclaimed, shocked at seeing him listed in the directory. David called him and the two booked a breakfast meeting.
David had forgiven the debt years ago, but was concerned about how this meeting would go. However, within five minutes of saying “hello,” Bill brought up the elephant in the room: “David, you wouldn’t believe what God’s been telling me to do. I owe you $30,000, and I want to give that back to you.” Bill pulled a check out of his pocket made out to David for $10,000. He promised to pay the rest as soon as possible—a promise he kept in the following months.
The timing was perfect. God still had David and his wife on the “manna plan,” and the next month’s provision was Bill’s check. “Frankly, if it weren’t for Bill’s $30,000 payback, we would’ve had to borrow more money or we would’ve been deficient on our payments,” says David.
“His wife told me that after our breakfast he was in tears just being able to complete that connection after 28 years. That shows an extraordinary amount of integrity.”
More than that, it shows the beauty and complexity of God’s reconciliation. He can take money lost three decades ago and use it for today’s provision.
Today, both men serve together in Generous Life, Gateway’s Financial Stewardship Ministry. David and his wife, Debbie, serve as group leaders in Financial Peace University at Gateway Frisco. Bill is the class leader for Financial Peace University and is a Kingdom Advisor.