Mounting Difficulties and Plunging Economics…

Opportunities for Miracles

“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie, My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply; The flame shall not hurt thee, I only design, Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.”—John Rippon 178.

“Mary’s health was becoming cause for increasing concern. Boils on her arms and legs were making it difficult for her to get around… in spite of increased treatements at Kikwi her health continued to deteriorate with oozing eczema on her feet, hands and, worst of all her head. The doctor suggested shaving the hair. So it was with a sorrowful spirit that I performed the operation of removing her beautiful amber hair… We finally made the wrenching decision to take a leave of absence…

“Our arrival in New York was uneventful… As the train pulled into the station, we saw Miss Doering (mission director) from the other side of the tracks. Not aware of the exact time of our arrival (communications not like today), she was on her way to another engagement…

“At the mission headquarters… housekeeper, Mrs. Schlansky… greeted us with the warmth of a sister. Verses of Scripture poured from her mouth as she reassured us of the Lord’s leading and blessing in our lives… The next day we purchased a used Chevy, and a few days later we began our journey to the West Coast. Fresh from the tropics we felt the cold intensely in that miserable unheated car.

“We made as few stops as possible, but homes we did visit were choice. One was in Pennsylvania with the parents of the Miller sisters from the Kamayala mission station (in Congo). Another in Ohio was that of the Hages. Here their daughter Ruth, who was preparing to go to Africa as a missionary, eagerly soaked up everything we had to say. We had no way of knowing that in two decades she would become one of Congo’s martyrs…

“Since Mary’s family in Oregon were waiting for us, we hurried on and reached Dallas as the sun was setting taking back roads to the old Smithfield farm where Mary grew up and where most of her family was gathered….

“The family doctor took special interest in Mary’s condition and prescribed treatment. Knowing that she was in good hands, I went on to Klamath Falls to meet my brother and others, then continued to California where I had a freak accident at a crossroad. Somehow “I was pinned under the car. Had it not been for two Christian ladies who lived in the neighborhood who happened to be driving by, it could have been fatal. They took me into their home, got a doctor, and saw to my care. I had difficulty breathing, with a buildup of pain in my side. But a few days later I was relieved and ready to move on again.

Meanwhile I received news that our Buddy was sick with pneumonia—so seriously that it was feared we might lose him. By the time I got there Buddy was much improved, though still weak and fragile.

We decided to return to California where I could hopefully find a job to support my family, but the Great Depression was on and jobs were scarce.  Hearing that prospects were better in Los Angles, I decided to try there…

“Upon hearing about a growing missionary colony in Glendale we decided to check it out. This colony was actually a little village of small houses, including some “tent houses,” which were really little cabins with canvas roofs. They were being put up quickly to provide housing for the many missionaries forced to return from various countries, due to the lack of funds from the Depression.

“I was offered a job building a foundation for one of these “tent houses,” and we ourselves were assigned one of the little homes as a temporary residence. The tent houses were completely furnished with cooking facilities, beds, bedding, and even an icebox. An added mattress was given to us for Buddy, which we shoved under the bed during the day.

“It was wonderful to have a home of our own and the fellowship of this missionary colony was an extra bonus. Our landlady and employer, Mrs. Suppes, or Mother Suppes as everyone called her, particularly impressed us. This energetic widow, now in her sixties, together with her helper, also an elderly widow, darted in and out of cabins, arms loaded with linens and bedding, and from time to time they’d stop to chat with their missionaries.

“The story behind their colony was in itself an example of faith that encouraged struggling missionaries like us. It seemed that Mother Suppes, after the death of her husband, had opened her large home to missionaries passing through. Although the number of missionaries coming home kept growing, her house didn’t. Sorrowfully she began turning missionaries away while her heart questioned, “Why should the solider of the cross be homeless in their homeland? Soon she found herself praying, “Lord, if You’ll provide, I’ll put up some little houses for these missionaries.” She then proceeded to get estimates. The amount needed would be $50,000—an astronomical sum for a widow and especially for those Depression days.

Some time later a representative from an oil company knocked on her door and asked permission to drill for oil on a little piece of her property. “Of course you can,” she exclaimed.

Soon oil was flowing and checks were adding up to $10,000, $20,000; $30,000 When they reached $50,000 she was informed by the company that the well had caved in. There would be no more oil and no more checks. In telling her story, Mother Suppes would add with a wink, “My faith was too small. I should have asked for $100,000. Don’t limit God as I did.”

She continued to challenge her missionaries to “stretching exercises.” One of our lessons came by way of the icebox. It was a daily custom in the colony to put out a card requesting ice from the iceman. The cost was a minimal ten cents. Since Mary and I were struggling with our “cash flow,” we decided to do without ice for a few days. Mother Suppes happened to pass our “tent-house” that day, and upon noticing the absence of our card, knocked and called out, “You forgot to put out your ice card.”

To this I sheepishly answered, “We don’t think we can afford it just now.”

“What exclaimed Mother Suppes emphatically? Can you not trust God for ten cents? The day might come when you will have to trust Him for thousands of dollars. Put out your card immediately.”

Mary meekly put the card in the window. It was a profound lesson and Mother Suppes’ words would prove prophetic.”

Joanne’s Comments: Happy New Year is a wish that slides easily from our mouths at the beginning of a year, and we sincerely hope it will be happy. Many of us, however, can’t help wondering about disturbing reports that predict, instead, a dismal year ahead.

I chose the above depression story as my first post of this year of 2011 in the hope that it will encourage and reassure us all.

As we follow the reports of the Economic Depression through different sources, we find that there are differing opinions out there. Some claim we will recover soon, while most of us fear that things will get worse—perhaps much worse. If so, how could it affect us?  Already jobs are being lost and most of us are feeling the squeeze from inflating prices on gas and other necessities. It’s evident that every announcement of plunging house prices, folding companies, or of earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, enemy attacks, war, famine, disease, and more, one senses that the air we breathe is permeated with stress, depression and insecurity. At such times a question is often asked, “Could this be God’s judgment?”

My answer would be “perhaps.” He is a holy and a righteous God, and thus, sin is offensive to Him. So when we rebel against Him, and offend Him, we put ourselves at risk of judgment. However, we can be sure that, though He hates sin, He loves the sinner. This is what caused him to come to earth in human form, and to take the consequences of our sin by suffering and dying on the cross. So when we are truly sorry, and come to Him in faith to confess our sins, He willingly pardons us and brings us into a special relationship with Him whereby He becomes our Father, and we His children. From then on we need no longer fear His judgment.

As our heavenly Father He might discipline us in love to help us learn valuable lessons, or to mature in our faith, but we must also realize that just living in a wicked world is hazardous for us all. Crime, cruelty, greed, power, and injustice make our world unsafe, and thus we sometimes suffer along with others. In those circumstances, however, God promises to be with us and to take us through the difficulties. We can speculate much regarding 2011, but only God knows exactly what will happen, and He will never leave us. That in itself is a glorious ray of hope. But there’s more.

The Bible —and all the pages of history—illustrate the fact that hard times provide the ideal conditions for miracles.

Miracles are those wonderful things that happen that are unexplainable apart from Divine intervention, as in the story above. Magic and superstition have no connection whatever.

Miracles, prayer and faith are perfect partners. Prayer accompanied by faith is a powerful weapon against despair, depression, and stress, and they open the door for miracles. So, if times get tough, or when troubles hit hard, be sure to pray in faith—and then—expect a miracle.

Some encouraging articles:

Fiery Trials

Our Trials

I Believe in Miracles

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