One winter morning in 1931, I came down to breakfast -
found the table empty. It was cold outside. The worst
blizzard on record had paralyzed the city. No cars
out. The snow had drifted up two stories high
house, blackening the windows.
"Daddy, what's happening?" I asked.
I was six years old. Gently Dad told me our fuel and
supplies were exhausted. He's just put the last piece
of coal on the fire. Mother had eight ounces of milk
for my baby brother Tom. After that - nothing.
"So what are we going to eat?" I asked.
"We'll have our devotions first, John Edmund," he
a voice that told me I should not ask questions.
My father was a pastor. As a Christian he'd been
out of his Syrian homeland. He arrived as a teenager
the United States with no money and barely a word of
- nothing but his vocation to preach. He knew
a kind few see today. Yet my parents consistently
away at least 10 percent of their income, and no one
God ever knew when we were in financial need.
That morning, Dad read the scriptures as usual, and
afterwards we knelt for prayer. He prayed earnestly
for the family, for our relatives and friends, for
called the "missionaries of the cross" and those in
city who'd endured the blizzard without adequate
Then he prayed something like this: "Lord, Thou
have no more coal to burn. If it can please Thee,
us some fuel. If not, Thy will be done - we thank Thee
warm clothes and bed covers, which will keep us
comfortable, even without the fire. Also, Thou knowest
have no food except milk for Baby Thomas. If it can
For someone facing bitter cold and hunger, he was
remarkably calm. Nothing deflected him from
family devotions - not even the clamor we now heard
the muffling wall of snow.
Finally someone pounded on the door. The visitor had
cleared the snow off the windowpane, and we saw his
"Your door's iced up," he yelled. "I can't open it."
The devotions over, Dad jumped up. He pulled; the man
pushed. When the door suddenly gave, an avalanche of
snow fell into the entrance hall. I didn't recognize
man, and I don't think Dad did either because he said
politely, "Can I help you?"
The man explained he was a farmer who'd heard Dad
Allegan three years earlier.
"I awakened at four o'clock this morning," he said,
couldn't get you out of my mind. The truck was stuck
the garage, so I harnessed the horses to the sleigh
"Well, please come in," my father said. On any other
occasion, he'd have added, "And have some breakfast
But, of course, today there was no breakfast.
The man thanked him. And then - to our
plucked a large box off the sleigh. More than sixty
years later, I can see that box as clear as yesterday.
It contained milk, eggs, butter, pork chops, grain,
homemade bread and a host of other things. When the
had delivered the box, he went back out and got a cord
Finally, after a very hearty breakfast, he insisted
take a ten-dollar bill.
Almost every day Dad reminded us that "God is the
Provider." And my experience throughout adult life
confirmed it. "I have never seen the righteous
nor their children begging bread." (Psalm 37:25)
The Bible said it. But Dad and Mom showed me it was