(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
What a choice I made when I said, “God, this place we looked at, with 17 secluded acres, It’s perfect! I want it! I don’t care what You want God, I want it!” And God said, “You want it? You got it!” I was not considering what the Lord plainly said in Proverbs 3:5 through 8:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.
Yes, It was what I wanted! I thought the property, 20 miles north of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was perfect! It had…
- …an inhabitable older mobile home (it needed repair, but I am handy).
- …an old gutted house we could use for storage.
- …a dug well lined with stone.
- …tall majestic pines in front of the old house.
- …a sturdy shed I could use as a small barn.
All the things I needed to become a part-time farmer! That’s what I longed to do for the last twenty years, ever since my father left and my mother had to sell our 200-plus acre Connecticut dairy farm. I was the pastor of a small Baptist church for the last four years. But to oversee a flock of sometimes ornery people was not my calling! …or so I thought!
And now I was in a position as a product fund-raiser (schools, Scouts, church youth groups, etc.); and I would have my 17 acres to farm! We began to gather animals. Friends gave us two Saanen goats, a miniature German Shepherd dog, and two cats. And I worked at my new job…
Back in Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania, where my first pastorate was located, I was working part- time in Cufty’s gas station. A man stopped in often to fill up his beautiful new car. I asked him what business he was in. “I’m a fund-raising salesman for TV Time foods, especially their popcorn.” I asked him how it was going. “Great!” he told me. “I make about $5,000 a month!” And this was in 1976! As a pastor, I was making $5,000 a year! Over the next weeks when he would come in for gas, I questioned him further about his work:
- He had been in the fund-raising business for a couple of years. And when he started out, it only took him a month to earn a good amount of money, enough that he and his family could live on!
- “There is a sales territory open in northeast Pennsylvania,” he told me. My antenna went up! That was an area I knew well! I had worked for a wholesale plumbing supply company, and I delivered the product all over that area of the state. My wife, Hope, and I spent two full years in that northeast corner of the state…
➔ ...I was a student for two years at Baptist Bible Sem- inary, where I received my Associate Degree in Bible. ➔ ...we rented three different living places, two apart- ments and then a house. ➔ ...we found a wonderful church in Dalton, Pennsylvania, Faith Community Church, and we made many friends within and without the church family. ➔ ...I longed to get back to those familiar surroundings!
- I signed on as the northeast PA sales rep for TV Time Popcorn’s fund-raising division, ‘Funds-a-Poppin’! I was told, by my now-friend fund-raising salesman, “If you aren’t making a thousand a week after the first month, something is wrong!”
I resigned my pastorate at First Baptist of Johnsonburg, and we moved to our 17-acre dream property in September of 1976. Now remember, I had insisted that God give me this property, whether it was His will or not!
I soon discovered few things about our Lenoxville dream farmette:
- There was no electricity to the place! What was needed was a new meter before electricity could be turned on. We would have to pay for the hookup.
- No one had lived on the property for a year, and the winter before the water pipes in the mobile home had burst!
- The water in the toilet had also frozen and split the toilet in two!
- There was no heat in the mobile home. A furnace was there, but it didn’t work!
- The siding on the mobile home was rusting and coming apart at the seams!
- The roof on the shed/goat barn leaked because it needed to be shingled and it was at such a slight angle that it was almost flat!
We hadn’t saved much money during my pastorate. The Johnsonberg bank gave us a loan of $1,500 to finance our move. I spent the better part of that loan on…
- …paying for the hookup of a new electric meter, and paying a new customer fee to the electric company.
- …purchasing about a thousand pop-rivets to secure the siding on the mobile home.
- …buying and installing a used wood stove for our heat, after spending money on a heating repairman who told us the furnace was shot!
- I temporarily solved the broken toilet problem by constructing an ‘out’! I will tell you more about the ‘out’ in the next Gem.
But I knew I was going to do well in the fund-raising business – “…a thousand a week within a month…!” I worked aggressively contacting schools, scouts, etc., but I didn’t get any money coming in for six weeks……….my first paycheck was $67! It went downhill from there!
By the first of November, our money was petty much gone! I drove our car, a 1963 Chrysler Newport, all over northeast PA trying to drum up business. I made some sales, I even was the top salesman in the country for December! (That was the month other salespeople working for TV Time took off since it was tough to make sales with the approaching holidays, and schools on Christmas vacation)! But I didn’t get a paycheck until my customers had their fund-raising events, and that’s when their invoices had to be paid!
Around the middle of November winter began to settle in. And the well went dry! The hand-dug well was about 25 feet deep, dug down to a bedrock base. But there was a crack in the bedrock! And as fast as the water flowed in, it leaked out through that crack! Even the torrential rains during October didn’t fill the well! But those rains did do something, and I will relate that adventure in the next Gem.