Bankruptcy, but Building

A family steps out in faith and does what God has asked of them.
by Stephen Dyas, LC | Source:
“We have really pushed the envelope financially and are probably doing things we shouldn’t be doing as far as pushing forward with new construction, buying cabins…..”

John Timmons has been an emergency medicine physician for over twenty years and presently oversees two emergency departments. He and his wife Mary, along with their five children, lived in the Chicago area, until God asked them to do something else.

During one of John’s adoration holy hours in 2002-2003 God placed the desire in his heart to build a retreat center.

They asked their real estate agent to look for a piece of property - about fifteen acres – big enough for the Ave Maria Retreat Center and their new home, near John’s hometown in Hoopeston, Il.

Surprisingly, he presented them with a 230 acre piece of beautiful wooded land, a five acre pond, and a river.

In prayer, John and Mary realized that God wanted them to buy the 230 acres. With the extra acres they could build a subdivision. A large barn was to become a beautiful retreat center with eight bedrooms, a kitchen, chapel, meeting areas, grottos, and four cabins.

They have done that, and now their goal is to become a “recognized Catholic retreat center… and be dedicated to getting families to heaven.”

When asked what are the difficulties they are facing, John responded, “Financial is number one. We are really struggling with that right now in fact… It is a regular struggle with frustrations and discouragements and with the ultimate threat of bankruptcy always peering around the corner”.

John recognizes, “we didn’t [overcome the difficulties], God did… He opened doors that were not there previously. And all he asks us to do is persevere… We will plan some construction, tell the workers to go ahead and start and then wait for God to provide the money.”

“I don’t plan out how much something is going to cost and then wait until I have the money. God has asked us to step out in faith, do what has been asked of us and then persevere in finding ways to pay for it.”

At the moment ten more cabins are on their way.

In face of their difficulties they are turning to prayer and trusting in God. They are not backing down; but building.

When asked would you go through it all again, John responded: “Yes, absolutely. How could you say ‘no’ to God?”

If you would like to contact John, you can email him at

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