Hudson Taylor famously said, “God’s work done in God’s way never lacks God’s supply.” Our 1998 Ford Expedition has been costing on average $500 per month for repairs for several months, and it was already too small for our family since our precious little Caroline came this past July.
At the end of December, I stopped by our mechanic’s and asked him what the new sound coming from under the hood could be and how much would it cost. He fixed it, but there was another problem that was a matter of time before it would put us on the side of the road. The new problem would be at least an $800 fix.
He sat down, took a long look at me, and for the second time in the last six months said, “Gene, please find your family something else. I can send you to a friend at a dealership.” This time I obeyed him thinking that when your own mechanic tells you to buy a new car, it must really be time. At the dealership, the salesman had no inventory available for 12-15 passenger vans. We needed to find something, so I even tried driving a van for sale by a church, but it was a 1991 and had not been driven for two years. Even the seats were moldy. I couldn’t bring myself to put my family in it. The kind of transportation we needed was not easy to find. Twelve or fifteen passenger vans are not exactly high volume sellers.
The push was, we had our first big trip in some time coming up in mid-January to invite people to join our team on this God-sized mission to Liberia. We knew our Expedition couldn’t handle it, and the thought of being on the side of I-95 with seven scared kids made my stomach turn. Our Expedition’s reliability was already so poor that Amanda and I high-fived with a “Thank you, Lord” every time we made it to the grocery store, church, or home. Our other car had already been parked for a month awaiting for God’s provision for its repair. Yet still we were sure it was probably unwise to finance a van when we were headed to the mission field.
Then we called CarMax in Greenville, SC, on New Years Day to see if they were open. The sales person found something that was much better than anything we would have chosen for ourselves: a 2014 Ford E-350 12 passenger van. It was in Gastonia, NC, so the sales person initiated a transfer. We were excited, but a down payment was needed, and time was running out with trips close on the horizon to Columbia, then to the Florence area in SC and the Fayetteville area of NC.
So what did we do? We did what we could. We followed the Hudson Taylor method. We prayed for provision, and we asked our intercessors and those we talked with to pray with us for wisdom and provision. And we waited. If there’s anything we have learned in this journey, it is that the Lord is always on time, but He is rarely if ever early. There is a reason for that. It exercises and strengthens our trust in a God of good character. So we kept praying and kept waiting. We had excited hope at first as we prayed, then waning hope, then that hope would return.
Family with the van
On Thursday evening, a farmer called and asked me to meet him the next morning to pick up a check. It was for the amount we needed for a down payment! We drove down to Little Mountain, SC, picked up the check, returned to CarMax in Greenville, took ownership of the new van, drove it home, packed our luggage, and headed to Columbia to speak at the SC Campers on Mission annual meeting on Saturday morning. That is God’s timing!
To those of you who prayed with us for this need, thank you for your prayers. And about that hesitancy to finance a car when we are on our way to the mission field? We already have two parties interested in buying the van from us when we leave for West Africa. In the meantime, the payment is much less than we have been spending on repairs to the old SUV. He has provided safe transportation for us to go about His work in preparing for Liberia. He is indeed a good, good Father.
As our Rachel (age 9) sat in the van on our test drive, she told me, “Daddy, I feel safe in this car.”
Ava-Grace was jubilant on the way home from our ministry event in Columbia, “Daddy,” she said, “This is a super, awesome, amazing, God-blessed van!” Yes, darling, it sure is.