Dave’s friend, the undertaker was also the ambulance driver for the little village of Hector, Minnesota. On one of his runs, he transported an elderly farmer the 18 miles to Olivia, Minnesota to have surgery. The farmer instructed the undertaker, “If something happens to me while I am having surgery, I want that preacher who has the dial-a-devotion to do my funeral. I like his voice and I am always blessed from his daily talks.” The farmer died while at the hospital and the undertaker honored his request.
During the visitation, a gentleman showed up at the funeral home. He wore a collar; he was a Lutheran pastor from Portland, Oregon. He introduced himself to the undertaker, “This is my dad,” pointing to the casket. “I am here only as a guest. Please have Reverend Martin do the funeral service. I don’t want to change anything that my dad had arranged.”
The story later came out about the farmer and his son. The wife of the farmer had died during childbirth. The sisters of the dead mother took the baby boy and raised him; they were hateful and resentful to the farmer for getting their sister pregnant, which had led to her death. The farmer had tried to see the boy and send gifts, but the sisters would not let him near the boy.
The 40 year old son of the deceased was warm and friendly to Dave, thanking him for conducting the service and for having the dial-a-devotion every day that his dad so enjoyed. While they were visiting in the funeral home, with the rooms crowded with town folk, in walked the pastor from the Methodist church, Reverend Aasp.
The three preachers were all together, a Lutheran, a Methodist and Dave. “This man attended my church all these years,” Reverend Aasp informed Dave. He became louder and the crowded rooms of mourners were looking at the three pastors. “Get Martin out of the way. What does he think he is doing with his new little church? I am supposed to do this funeral. I am the Methodist pastor.”
The son, the Lutheran pastor, said to the undertaker, “The two of us had better take care of Reverend Aasp.” With one on each side of Reverend Asp, they lifted him by the arms and carried him from the funeral home, marching him the 2 blocks to the Methodist parsonage. They left him with his wife and said, “Mrs. Aasp, you must be in charge of him now.”
This would be Dave’s second funeral; he had never talked to the man he was eulogizing, but Dave said, “I just acted like I had known him all his life and that he was a good friend of mine.” The church was packed. “I had a wonderful time preaching. Carol played the piano, and a couple of my little girls sang during the service,” remembers Dave.
The old farmer had asked to be buried in Northern Iowa so Dave rode shotgun along with the casket the 100 miles to the cemetery. The Lutheran pastor and others followed in separate cars.
On the return trip, the undertaker handed Dave an envelope. Dave never opened it until he was home, “I figured it was the normal gift of $15 to $20. Were we ever shocked when we found $200: an entire month’s pay in 1961!”
Carol saw it as an opportunity to pay a few bills or buy the girls some needed shoes and clothes: Dave saw it differently. This man, a total stranger had come into their lives through the dial-a-devotion ministry: the money would go to pay the .18 cents a day charge to keep the phone lines ringing; and they were ringing around 300 times a day.
The three minute dial-a-devotion continued with Dave through all his churches; 40 years of ministry with a verse and thought for the day that was to drive people to a saving knowledge of Jesus. And it did.
“Pastor Martin speaking”….. And away he would go.
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