“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 7:12).
Two serious needs faced us when we returned to the USA from Nigeria in 1987. I was without work and our family of four did not have a home.
The housing problem was amazingly resolved by Ed and Edna Loesel, a musical Christian couple from Frankenmuth. They were our personal prayer partners. I’m sure over the years, they prayed for us as much as anyone we know. Not only was it through prayer that we were blessed but also directly by their gifts. They were kind to let us use their new home for two months before they were scheduled to move into it. Furthermore, as our salary was running out, another Christian friend helped again. Wally Bronner offered employment to Alice - another wonderful answer to our prayers.
It was not easy to wait, but I learned to remember God’s promises from His word. My wife has reminded me over the years of Psalm 37:3-7.
Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
On the first Thursday in September 1987, before the Labor Day weekend celebration in the US, I received a telephone call from St. John’s congregation in Buckley, Illinois. They extended me an invitation to be their assistant pastor. Since the boys were off school that Friday and Monday in Frankenmuth, we drove to Buckley to see if we should accept their challenge.
After driving eight hours to Illinois we were taken directly to the Buckley High School so we might interview with the principal. Unfortunately, the high school did not provide the two extra-curricular activities we thought were so important to Kurtis and Eric, football and track. In addition, the only house available for us to rent in Buckley was not adequate for a family our size. We realized this call was just not suitable for us. At an evening meeting with the call committee it was quite definite we could not accept the position.
As soon as our decision was shared with the group, someone quickly suggested not living in the Buckley school district. A large number of St. John’s members lived in the area of Paxton. The following Saturday morning a meeting was arranged with the high school football coaches. With real hospitality the coaches were delighted to meet two outstanding prospective athletes. The main hindrance to the whole situation was that our sons needed to be registered in school by Tuesday in order to play football right away that season. This meant we had to make an immediate decision about the assistant pastor position.
I had experienced a similar situation when my parents moved me from Rock Island to Rockford, Illinois, over a weekend. I had told myself I wouldn’t do that to my family, yet it happened. We announced on Sunday at St. John’s that we would accept the challenge and move directly into a motel near the Paxton-Loda High School. Regrettably, our sons never were able to say a formal good-bye to their friends in Frankenmuth. However, they both played that next Friday night for the Paxton-Loda High School junior varsity and varsity football teams.
For the next four years, Paxton was a wonderful place to live and serve - with many answers to our prayers.
During the early 1970’s I had become acquainted with an organization called the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). In those years I started what was called a “FCA Huddle Group.” Out of this, both female and male athletes from Frankenmuth attended several FCA summer camps at Central Michigan University and FCA national camp near Marshall, Indiana. I also attended some of the events.
FCA’s purpose was and still is to combine people’s passion for sports with their passion for Christ. They taught that these two worlds don’t have to be separated. This was exactly the kind of influence I wanted for our two boys. Kurtis and Eric were very agreeable to going to the football camps in Indiana. Their attendance was a time of "inspiration and perspiration." As it has worked out over the years FCA has been a powerful inspiration, especially to our son Eric. He has participated and coached football over the last twenty years. He has been equipped, empowered and encouraged by those of FCA touching his life. He in turn has neatly woven his Christian worldview into coaching of young athletes. Eric continues to challenge and develop spiritual values into the lives of players he coaches. Lives have and are being changed. He has learned to play and coach to the glory of God.
We live in a sports-crazed nation. That’s where the Fellowship of Christian Athletes comes in. FCA is ministering and making an impact in the hearts of coaches and athletes across the globe.
Personal Reflection Time