A Long Journey in an old Dodge

Grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected.” –Jonathan Edwards

Excerpt from Shiny Shoes on Dusty Paths Vol. 1 Chapter 13: Hot Shoes… From a Flaming Touch

Los Angeles to Oregon… to Canada… to North Dakota, Kansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and New York, 1931

“Aaron and Ernestina Janzen had spoken in my home church in Dallas where they were told about my conversion and interest in missions. Consequently, Aaron made a special trip to Los Angeles to see me. After climbing to the sixth floor (of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles) he knocked on my door

“My answer, “Come in” was the opening of a door to Africa… he told about a large area of people who had never had an opportunity to hear about God’s love for them… Won’t you come to … the center of Africa?…

“We could now make plans to move ahead… At that time becoming a missionary was uncomplicated… We simply informed the Janzens that the Lord had confirmed in our hearts that we were to serve with them…

“With the decision finalized, we prepared to go to Oregon to spend time with the family and visit churches… in an old four cylinder Dodge we traveled over a wide area on the West Coast and in a few provinces of Canada.

At meetings in small gatherings, usually in homes but sometimes in haylofts and even machine shops, we simply told what the Lord had done for us and about our desire to serve Him in Africa…

“Encouragement came through many kind words… but there were those who shook their hands. ‘You’re going out on faith? You can’t eat faith… Haven’t you noticed that we’re in a depression?…

“Because of the depression, people struggled to keep food on tables. Those who shared did so sacrificially. One farmer (in Winnipeg, Manitoba) invited us to his home… This bearded man and his good wife had a number of orphans in addition to their own children… Walking outside in the morning sunshine, the farmer asked, “Do you need gas?”… After taking the Dodge to the farmyard gas pump… he took out of his wallet a handful of bills… and wished us God’s blessing.

“Mary and I fought tears as we waved good-bye…

“We started making our way toward the east coast with our faithful Dodge… Herbert and Main Centre Saskatchewan… Munich, North Dakota… Hillsboro, Kansas and on to Kentucky. Driving all night we were extremely weary, but as morning dawned we noticed that there would be one more river to cross—and this river had no bridge. Heavy rains and a swollen current had carried it away. The only way to cross was on the back of a mule… Our last stop was Pennsylvania… where we received our passports… and set out on the last lap of our journey…

The Dodge was ready to give up as we limped into New York City late at night… It no longer paid to get a hotel room, so we sat in the old Dodge on a street in Brooklyn waiting for dawn. The next day we picked up our tickets along with the visas…

Joanne’s Comments

In the early 1930s faith played a key role in missions. Once a missionary had a firm and clear calling, he or she just went like Abraham way back in the pages of Bible history. God called and Abraham simply obeyed.  Today in missions there’s usually an extended time required for deputation and pledges for a given amount of support, etc. plus funds for passage and setting up housekeeping abroad. But this does not mean that faith is no longer required. On the contrary, experience has proven that where there was not a clear calling combined with commitment and strong faith, casualties have occurred.

In our modern society the lure of comfortable lifestyles and security are ever so strong upon missionaries, and all who have chosen to be disciples of the Man of Galilee—especially in these days of economic uncertainty. Many turned back then, and many are deserting today. There’s no getting around it. For most of us life itself is a long tough journey for which the words Jesus spoke so long ago still echo today,”Take up your cross and follow me.” It never was and never will be an easy road. Trusting our abilities, our own resources, or our own strength is simply not enough. We have to draw upon the power of the One who conquered death and all the powers of darkness. That takes faith.

Like Peter who boldly stepped out of the boat to walk on water, but lowered his focus upon on the waves about him, we too must lift our eyes upward lest we start to sink into the ocean of despair or depression. Whatever the test of faith we might be facing today, if we but  reach out toward His outstretched hand, He does His part and pulls us up to the joy of faith’s fulfillment, power and grace.

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