Saturday, May 26, 2007


It was around November of ’96 while praying and fasting, that I really began to feel that my time in South Bend, IN was coming to an end. While I experienced sadness at the fact that we would be leaving all the trusted relationships we had formed over the years, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of elation that God was moving me closer to my destiny. Bible School and its attendant ‘field practicum’ was over! Yay!! As I reflected on our five year sojourn in Notre Dame Country, it wasn’t the difficult times that readily came to mind. I recalled the “mystery benefactor” who, for one full year had left a care package outside the door of our apartment every single week. There were weeks when we didn’t have the money to buy diapers for my son. Those weeks would find diapers in the care package. It seemed that every time we had a significant need, God would speak to our “MB” (as we came to affectionately refer to this person), and that need would be miraculously filled in our care package.

I remembered being recommended by the Dean of my college to speak at a church in a small town called Wabash, IN. They were in the process of finding a senior pastor and needed to fill the pulpit every Sunday in the interim. I spoke to the head elder at the church over the phone, and he asked that I speak two Sundays in a row. Arrangements were made for me to be picked up by the folks from the church since I didn’t have a reliable enough car to make the two hour journey. The night before I left for the first speaking engagement, we had a couple of friends over at our apartment. As we were praying that God would visibly manifest His presence in the services the next two Sundays, one of our friends felt compelled to pray that God would supernaturally provide a decent car for us that would be paid for, insured, and registered so that I wouldn’t have to depend on anyone picking me up the following Sunday. I volubly expressed my Amen, but felt much less confident inside that any such thing could happen than I was willing to admit.

The next day appeared to justify my lack of confidence in the prayers. The people that came to pick me up were a sweet, middle-aged couple. When they discovered that I was black, they were a little uncertain that they had made the right decision in inviting me to come and speak to their small-town, all white church. Wabash had only one black person in it and he arrived there when I did. I expressed my appreciation to the couple for driving four hours to and from Wabash just to pick me up, and explained that I would secure a ride for the following Sunday so that they wouldn’t have to endure the arduous drive for another weekend. They quickly explained to me that they had secured someone else to speak for the following Sunday and so wouldn’t require me for more than that weekend.

On the journey to Wabash we spent the two hour drive getting to know each other really well. They had warmed to me by the time we arrived, and explained that they were going to bring me in round the back, straight into the pastor’s study, while they met with the rest of the elders to prepare them for someone a little bit different than they had expected. I took all this in stride, and preached a passionate sermon about attitude being the key to altitude. At the end of the service people were lining up to get a copy of the message on tape. They had to search the cupboards to find their tape duplicating machine which had seldom been used. I was asked to stay behind and speak at an evening service which they had hurriedly put together.

Since I was staying for a previously unscheduled service, they took me out to lunch in neighboring Marion. En-route to Marion, we drove past an auto dealership that had a Peugeot 505 station wagon on the lot. As we drove by the dealership, I expressed surprise at seeing a car that you rarely find in the USA. On the way back from lunch, my host turned in to the dealership and pulled up right behind the Peugeot. We got out and walked around the car as he quizzed me about its performance and maintenance. We got back in time for the evening service, and afterwards, this precious couple that had already driven four hours that day (not counting our trip to Marion), proceeded to drive me all the way back to South Bend.

Our parting conversation was about what time I wanted to be picked up the next Sunday! Apparently, I had passed the “color” test and was eligible to preach as originally scheduled. On Tuesday evening I got a phone call from Dean (the man who had picked me up) asking me for my drivers license info. I was a little perturbed and asked why he needed this. He explained that he needed the info for the insurance for the Peugeot 505 which the Lord had impressed upon him to buy for me, insure, and register it for a whole year. When I explained that I couldn’t afford to pay him back for the car, he asked if I was deaf or hard of hearing. “The Lord told me to buy it for you; I didn’t say anything about paying me back.” Wow!

The next Sunday found me driving myself and my family to Wabash in my brand new Peugeot 505. At the end of the service, the elders offered me the position of senior pastor of the church with a parsonage attached to the offer. My destiny however, lay elsewhere. Onward to Colorado!