It took me completely by surprise. Here I was 2000 miles away from my nearest relative and there were no other churches available at the time. My only option was to return to Michigan where my wife’s family was. That proved to be the best move.
You may ask, “why did his church fire him?” They never gave me a reason. I had been there for five years and they wanted a change. There were no charges of impropriety. It just seemed the right thing to do. Ironically the man they wanted to come, decided that he didn’t want to wait for me to leave in June so he took another church.
This incident happened at the most successful time of my ministry. The community was having a positive attitude toward our church due to a community wide outreach. I enrolled in Evangelism Explosion and became certified with Coral Ridge Ministries. The future looked bright. I equipped myself to lead the church in a discipleship ministry but before I could get it in motion they dropped the bomb.. They had their camp ministry, why did they need anything else?
My firing had an effect on the community. When they heard of it, they got together and took up a collection to send me home to Michigan to see if I could
Find employment before I got there. About fifteen years later, another church was planted and they accomplished what I envisioned.
In June of 1985, we began our journey into the unknown future. We rented a large truck and moved back to Michigan. If I knew what was ahead I may have tried to stay in Canada. But we came home.
We lived with our in-laws for a while surviving on food stamp allowances. We were able to find low income housing, which was ideal for the time. Eventually my wife and I found work with the local school district. When I turned 62 the district decided on my taking an early retirement. Prior to this I went through a period of deep depression. I contacted a disease called Viral Encephalitis and they gave me no hope of ever returning to work again, but God had other plans for my life and I will close this story with that.
After I settled into the fact that was now officially retired, I decided that I would be there until I died. I took on a part time job in a Grocery store and while I was there something happened to my employers. A new ownership took place and they were cutting my bosses salaries. I went to the unemployment agency and tried to find work for them. While I was there the counselor asked me to check into my job description to see what was available. A floor care position was opened at a large hospital. Reluctantly I jumped through the hoops and got the job after they had removed the posting. I was 65, but they pulled the posting and hired me as a floor care specialist. (They even asked me how much money I wanted.) I got hired and have been there seven years. I have no intention of retiring. I work out every day and keep in good health.
You may be wondering, about all that experience in the ministry? When I hired in, my supervisors requested to be taught from the book of Revelation. After three years I put it into a book. I never thought that I would ever be a writer, but now I am working on a discipleship manual, and several other works now on the back burner. Recently someone requested that I write bible studies for children. That has developed into another book.
What does the future hold? My life and my future belong to God. I have determined to be faithful to Christ as my goal. I recall our class motto in Bible school: “As for God, His ways are perfect”. The sermon I have always wanted to preach has become a sermon I had to learn. His way, His timing, and His provisions are perfect. When the job recruiter asked me if I could change anything that has happened in my life, I replied God has had His hand on my life and with gratitude I can declare “Thanks be to God for all of His mercies. I stand as a living testament to His great grace”
Thanks Henry for sharing your story of God's faithfulness and your understanding of God laying His hand on you so many years ago, and never removing it. That will be the title of my story someday, "The Hand of the Lord was on Me!" I know that He continues to use you and I am glad to see you making yourself available. Blessing to you!