In June of 1979 we were committed to attend four weeks of candidate school in New Jersey. Since some of it involved doing street outreach in New York City, Barbara and the boys were allowed to go back home early, while I stayed to participate in the outreach.
During one of those times of outreach, the Lord led me a further step along in surrender to Him. After a meeting we loaded everything back into the car and were headed for the place where we were staying for the night. Another car passed us, then waved us down.
“Something fell off your roof back there,” the driver said. I parked and ran back. There was my beloved Bible! The one I’d bought from Stan Farmer, lying on the pavement, with all the papers I’d tucked into the cover scattered all over the busy street.
It was difficult for me to praise God for this: the damage to my Bible, the loss of some of those papers with all kinds of notes, plus my stupidity in setting the Bible on the roof of the car and then forgetting it.
This was another instance of God chastening His child, helping me learn to be more careful, to move more slowly and to give my possessions to Him. I was thankful, though, that it was just my Bible and not little Nat strapped in his infant seat that I’d set on the roof before driving off!
During that summer, Sam talked more with Dad and me about the possibility of taking over the business, and in the end, agreed to do so.
As part of the agreement, I gave Sam the 49% of the business stock that I owned, without getting any payment. But that didn’t matter because with Sam’s agreement to run the business, Dad’s requirement was fulfilled, and we were now cleared to leave.
Sam came to work at the tire shop shortly after that so that the transition of leadership could begin. One of the first things he did was to have the workers build a new and fancier counter for the shop. This highlighted the difference between his style and mine, and between his approach and Dad’s.
Dad’s comment was, “It is not smart to spend money if it isn’t going to bring more money in. This thing is only for looks!” And it did look good, giving the tire shop a better image even if it didn’t bring in any more money. This event foreshadowed the stormy relationship Dad and Sam would have over the coming years.
Near the end of the summer I began to work half days, both to give myself more time for preparation and to give Sam more room to move into my position.
When we had first told people in our home church about our plans to go overseas, they seemed enthused about it. However, as our support began to come and we talked about leaving in November, I noticed that people were beginning to pull back from us.
In our adult Sunday School class we were asked to identify something that was bothering us in our lives right now, so I mentioned this “distancing” I’d noticed.
As we talked about it, it became clear to me that this early detachment was an unconscious self-defense mechanism–people were protecting themselves from the pain of separation by pulling back early. After having that discussion we noted that many showed real spiritual maturity by making the effort to reconnect with us.
There were others, however, who directly challenged us. One good friend said to me, “You are being irresponsible, taking your children into a primitive environment where you have no idea if there’s any medical care!”
The reply that came out of my mouth was right from the Lord, “If God can take care of my children here, He can take care of them over there just as well!”
Those words were again prophetic, for most of the serious accidents our boys had in the years to come did not occur in our Middle East home, but while we were on furlough in the States.
Picture: us 5 siblings together summer of 1979 before we left for overseas.