Working Through the Impossible
Two weeks later we were at IMI’s candidate school in New Jersey. However, with a newborn to care for and the tire business booming, we could not attend the whole candidate school program at this time. So we were invited to come for our initial interviews, which would provide us with a provisional acceptance so we could begin deputation.
Our theological interview included giving IMI an overview of our life, which provided a clear illustration of how God had us working as a team. I had no formal biblical training, while Barbara had been an excellent student at a Bible school in Germany. Every question I could not have answered was directed to Barbara, who knew what to say. She made us look really good. Any questions I was asked, I was able to answer from my own personal studies. The Lord worked it out well!
Normally a candidate for IMI had to have thirty hours of Bible teaching, but when we took the Bible knowledge test, both of us passed it with flying colors, so the requirement was waived for me.
At the end of our interview someone commented on how good Barbara’s Bible knowledge was. “Yes,” I said, “She is my walking concordance!”
“What a beautiful concordance,” commented one man.
“Let us pray,” said the president, drawing the interview to a close.
That summer of 1978 was very busy: the tire business continued to expand rapidly, we now had two little ones, and as we were officially accepted by IMI, we began seeking church support.
It was also a summer of tension, because I explained to Dad our plans to live and work abroad. This was a difficult piece of news for him, both to hear and to accept. Not only would this affect his financial future, but because I was his closest friend, he would be losing the companionship we shared in doing a lot of activities and projects together.
Then there was the loss of his two grand boys to consider. All of these changes would cause a major shift in his life, pulling the rug out from under what had been a secure, comfortable-looking future for him and Mom.
After his initial shock, he stated firmly that he would only allow us to go if one of my brothers stepped in to take my place running the business.
Of course, “allowing” was not the proper word, as I was thirty-two, a married man and no longer under Dad’s authority. But we knew biblically that honoring him by leaving with his blessing, was crucial to the process, so I acquiesced to his demand.
This would seem a pretty safe route for Dad to take, because the likelihood of one of my brothers taking my place was pretty slim. My brother Les was a computer scientist living in Ohio. My brother Sam had left His Mansion and was doing a church plant in a nearby town. To support himself, Sam was now working at a lumberyard and had no interest in the tire shop.
Another factor was that Sam and Dad had a history of conflict. Sam was a free spirit, more of an artist than a businessman and he and Dad had different views of how to handle finances.
Barbara and I decided just to back off, wait and pray; the Lord would bring a solution if He wanted us to go.
I was very glad that IMI had a policy of not asking for money. When we spoke in churches, we were to present the work, the spiritual need and ask for prayer, but not mention money unless it was brought up by others. This meant dependence on God, not twisting people’s arms. I liked that.
I later saw from others’ experience that when people agree to support because they felt under pressure, they often don’t follow through. It is much better to let God move people to come forward and pledge.
After a bit of experimenting, we developed a presentation ending with this statement to the congregation: “We need two things from you. First is prayer. Without prayer nothing of significance can happen. As you pray, God will work.
“The second is…” and I would pause here for effect: people were expecting me to say “money” or “support” but I continued with “…more prayer, because if you pray for us God will do the rest!” And so He did.
Picture 1: our little hippy famly ready to visit churches!
Picture 2: Dad with our older boy