On a very hot summer day a sweaty Christian book salesman strode down a dusty country road in northern Idaho. It was the early 1900’s and cars were not plentiful. On his budget even a horse was out of the question, so he walked. Carrying a slim briefcase, a flask of water and enough food for lunch, it was a tough way to make a living. We don’t know his name; only his mission.
He stopped at the home of Frank and Maude Olson, thankful for the chance to sit and rest a while. Maude came out to the front yard and they chatted a spell. He hoped she would ask why he was there, and she did. He told her about the book he was selling. A big book; not cheap. He explained that the title was, The Great Controversy. He told her she could make a down payment today and three weeks later when he delivered it, she could pay the balance. She bought the book; he thanked the Lord for answering his prayer and moved on down the lane.
When the book arrived Frank and Maude began to read. It was ponderous but fascinating. The Olsons were captivated. That autumn an itinerant preacher pitched a tent not far from their house and sent word around that he would be explaining some of the prophecies of the Bible. Frank and Maude wondered if his preaching might match the wonderful book they had finished reading by this time. They prayed for wisdom and decided to attend once to see. They didn’t miss a session and early winter, in a chilly baptistry, they were baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The man from whom they had bought the book and who had prayed earnestly for them, was there and was only slightly less thrilled than they were.
Meanwhile Frank and Maude’s daughter married and gave birth to a son whom they named Vic. But when Vic’s dad died his mother was not able to make a sufficient living to support them so Vic went to live with his grandparents, Frank and Maude. And he immediately became their prayer project. They had the distinct sense that he had been sent to live with them so they could lead him to Jesus. And they did.
As a young adult Vic would lose his way, but never far. He began to pray for a Christian wife. Then he met and fell in love with my mom – who had recently divorced her alcoholic husband. When Vic proposed, mom said she had learned her lesson and could never again marry a man who wasn’t a believer. Six months later all three of us were baptized by evangelist Forrest Roper in a portable tabernacle in Wapato, Washington. Both of them prayed for me and I began to sense a call to ministry.
It has been my privilege to serve Jesus and His church for the last 66 years. In the US and in a score of other countries. The part of the story I know began with a humble literature evangelist whose name I don’t know. Yet.
But one day, after I’ve thanked Jesus, I’m going to get them all together and thank them for their part in God’s plan for my life. How many life stories are you in?
By Don Jacobsen