Almost ten years, my wife Dorothy wrote a book entitled ‘Called Together,’ that told the story of our life and ministry in Australia before we moved to America in 1980. We have been pleased to receive so many words of commendation about this book and the testimony it brings in terms of its subtitle: ‘A true story of radical faith and obedience that will challenge and inspire you to fulfill your God-given destiny.
So, I want to present a story that come from ‘Called Together,’ that illustrates God’s provision. It is one of many stories in the book.
Vision Bible College, founded in 1976, quickly outgrew the accommodation we had in a huge old home called ‘Hebron.’ In Chapter 22: A Living School Room, Dorothy recounts the story of how God provided, in an impossible situation, for the extra accommodation that we so desperately needed.
“Within a year or two, we were in need of more space for more students. The decision was made to employ a builder to put another story on Hebron. Plans were drawn for an attic dormitory, and the work was scheduled to be completed over the Christmas summer break.
This was going to be a busy time for the ministry, as we also had five conferences over four weeks all over Australia, from Townsville in the north to Melbourne and Hobart in the south, and from Canberra across to Perth in Western Australia. In the midst of this somewhat chaotic time, we received the news that the city council would not approve any addition to the building. Our reaction to this news was, “God, what are you going to do now?”
When Alan returned from the last conference, we faced the inevitable crisis over where to put all the incoming students. Alan gathered the staff together in his office and read the story of Moses and the crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus chapter 14, and declared the word, “Stand still and see the salvation of God.” Just like Moses, but on a smaller scale, we needed a miracle.
Mary, a member of our Task Force, knew someone in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Ministry and told him about our dilemma. He knew of a big Catholic convent only a short distance away from Hebron, and some of the nuns attended his prayer meetings. Perhaps they could help. It was the Wednesday before the students’ arrival date and inquiries were made on our behalf. Good news; they were willing to talk to us and at least discuss our situation.
The day came for the students to arrive and still, we had nowhere to house them. They crowded into the dining room with their bags and expected to be allocated to a room. We gave a brief explanation about what had happened, how our plans to enlarge the building had not been approved but reassured them that the Lord would provide.
It was Friday morning, and Alan and I went to the convent for an 11 a.m. appointment and were given a tour of inspection by one of the sisters. It was a large, two-story property in a choice position on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There were meeting rooms, a prayer chapel, a large dining room and a huge, well-equipped kitchen with a walk-in freezer and refrigerator. I could just imagine Ian’s delight if he was to work in this facility. The rooms were set up simply and efficiently for 30-40 individuals, with a single bed, hand basin, desk, chair, and chest of drawers.
There was no carpet anywhere, but the polished, honey-colored, natural wood floors and the airy atmosphere gave a warm, glowing feeling to the building. There were recreation rooms inside and tennis courts outside. What more could we ask for? But we did have questions. Was it available? Would they allow us to use the building and all the facilities? How much would it cost?
We met together with the Mother Superior and two other sisters in her office. She told us how the convent had been booked for a three-month retreat by a group of sisters from Europe, but they had just canceled. Thus, the facility would be vacant for the next three months. Yes, they would be willing for us to use the convent, but only as a residence for girls. After discussion, they agreed to allow us to provide main meals for the male students, also, but they would have to be accommodated elsewhere. So far, so good!
We knew in our hearts that God was fulfilling His promise to work on our behalf. This had to be God’s provision. Alan took courage and asked, “How much will it cost?”
The Mother Superior looked at him, smiled, and graciously replied, “Nothing. There will not be a cost.”
We sat wide-eyed with astonishment. “But surely there must be some charge,” Alan protested.
Again the reply, “No, nothing.”
Alan protested again. “We have to pay something for this great facility.”
The Mother Superior thought for a moment and then said with a twinkle in her eye, “All right, if you insist, you can pay one dollar per student per week.”
We could hardly believe our ears. Thirty dollars a week for the use of the convent! God certainly had prepared a most abundant gift for Vision Bible College. We all stood together in a small circle, joining hands with those dear Catholic sisters. Alan gave thanks and praise to God for the hospitality so generously given.
An ever-increasing crowd of new students greeted us back at Hebron. They began their stay in Vision Bible College by seeing God’s miraculous provision on their behalf. Mary moved into the convent along with the 30 single women. The single men and married students stayed at Hebron with us. That night, we rejoiced with a great celebration meal together at Hebron.”
Where “God Guides, God Provides!” Perhaps you are facing needs or challenges in your life at present, and you need God’s guidance or provision. God’s word is full of reassuring promises, such as Philippians 3:19 which states, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
God sees you. He sees the needs or challenges you are facing. Remember that when God guides, He will provide.
If you would like to purchase a copy of Dorothy’s book ‘Called Together,’ they write to us at:
719 Pleasant Street
Excelsior, MN 55331
Include $10 for the book (includes shipping and handling)