THE STORY OF OUR MOTOR HOME
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|- Part I - Preparing The Ground -
This story starts about 10 years ago. God is such a detailed planner that he will have you planting the seeds for your needs years before you even know what you need. At that time, we lived in Denver, and had a LTD station wagon. It was about 10 years old, but in immaculate condition. I had just had the engine rebuilt, when someone decided to turn it into a sub-compact for us; rear ending it at 45 mph.
Because of the age of the vehicle, we only received about $650 from the insurance company. Even though you couldn't get much of a car for that money, we didn't want to go into debt for a car. I had done that once, and once was enough. So, we bought another old station wagon, of a different make, although it wasn't as nice.
Shortly thereafter, I was hired as an engineer by a company in Roswell, NM. We felt that God wanted us to bless a family in our church with the station wagon, so before we left town, we gave it to them. This was the first car we gave away. At the time, God was having us plant seed for what we would later need, and we didn't even know it.
Once in New Mexico, we started out to find another LTD station wagon. However, many of the Hispanics in New Mexico have large families, and they hang onto cars like that. So, we had to settle for a 10 year old Cadillac Sedan DeVille instead. I know, life is rough, isn't it?
Part of the reason we bought the Cadillac is that the difference in price between one of that age, and a run of the mill Chevy of that age was only about $200. So, who wouldn't rather have the Cadillac. Since the air is so dry in New Mexico, a car that age can still look like it's new.
For some unknown reason, Debbie got full coverage on the car when she went to the insurance company. Normally, we wouldn't worry about anything but liability, especially on that old a vehicle.
Two months later, there was a hail storm, sending down golf ball sized hailstones for about 15 minutes. Of all the cars parked together in the K-Mart parking lot, our Cadillac was the only one without a broken windshield. Thank God for his protection.
The insurance company gave us $2500 for the hail damage to the car. This
was about $250 more than we had paid for it. Just enough to tithe on. So,
we ended up with a free car. Oh, by the way, the hail damage was so minimal
that it wasn't worth fixing.
God told us to give the Cadillac away to a couple we knew in the ministry. Their van was worn out, and they were believing for another car. He told both of us the same thing, in different places, at the same time. The word says "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again" (Luke 6:38). So, we gave.
This left us with just a small Nissan pickup. We started traveling into Mexico ministering using that pickup. Whenever we could, weekends, long weekends, and vacations we were in Mexico. Every day we would pray, thanking God for providing the Suburban. The family we stayed with in Mexico had the same and age of truck, which was great, that put us on their level.
After several months, the company Rich was working for decided to modify their company car policy. Director level individuals would no longer have company cars, they would receive a "vehicle allowance." Since I was a couple of levels below "director" this didn't affect me. However, at the same time, someone in the company realized that they were spending a lot of money renting me company cars for all the traveling I did. The obvious way to save money was to give me a company car.
The company only had one Suburban. All the rest of the cars were sedans. You guessed it, I got the Suburban. Not only did I get the Suburban, but the insurance, maintenance, and gas (even for personal and ministry trips) was paid for.
After about a year of driving the Suburban, Satan stole it. John 10:10 says: "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." We had stopped to assist at an accident in Pennsylvania. It was a "black ice" situation, and while we were there, a tractor-trailer rig went right through the middle of the accident, ruining the Suburban in the process. Fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt.
We had followed God's principles in giving to receive that Suburban. Satan had stolen it from us, and he had to repay seven times what he stole. We just didn't know when and how we would be repaid.
In the Summer of 1994, the company Rich was the engineering manager for decided to close down the division he was working in. This left us looking for a job. Since we knew God was preparing us for ministry, we also looked for an opportunity for a ministry position.
The same day that Rich received a job offer for about $60,000.00 per year as a manufacturing engineer in Indiana, we received another offer. Our church had was involved in local radio and television ministry. The man who was the media director quit suddenly, leaving the church in a bind. During the time he was looking for a job, Rich filled in at the church doing the media work. Seeing this, and needing someone who could do this job, the pastor offered Rich a full-time staff position.
Even though the money on the engineering job was much better, it soon became clear which job God wanted us to take. Rich started as the Media Director for the church.
In the Fall of 1995, Rich was informed by the church that they needed to do a budget cut, and he was it. We were already doing some ministry work of our own, so we decided it was God's timing to go full time with that work. It sure didn't make sense that God would have taken Rich out of engineering to work in the church for a year and a half, then turn around and go back into engineering.
Our ministry involved a lot of traveling, so we prayed and decided that a Motor Home would be the most logical vehicle for us to use. In October of 1995, we started praying and believing God for a motor home. To put action to our faith, we started shopping, looking at various motor homes, and getting a clearer picture of what we felt we would need.
Since we were starting out in a new ministry, and didn't have a wonderful credit rating, we couldn't buy our motor home the world's way. Nor did we have the money to go out and pay cash for one. Besides, we didn't feel that was God's plan for us. God was going to have to provide this one.
- Part III - The Watering -
Every day we thanked God for the motor home. "Thank you God, we believe we receive, in the name of Jesus." Our four year old daughter was the best at this. Whether we were praying for a meal, or any other time, she would always thank God for it.
We started traveling in 1996 with our 11 year old minivan. This was what we had, and God had told us to go, so we did. Oh, I forgot something, the minivan had an electrical fire the previous year, so it needed a lot of repair work before we set out.
In a traveling ministry you put on a lot of miles quick. In an older vehicle, this means you have plenty of opportunity to make repairs. We had our share (and maybe someone else's too). On one trip into Georgia and Texas, we had five vehicle breakdowns in one week. These included such minor things as losing a wheel bearing, having to replace the radiator, and a blown head gasket. Replacing a head gasket in the middle of nowhere in Texas on a 108 degree day is lots of fun.
That week of vehicle problems was the same week as the Kenneth Copeland Ministries "Southwest Believer's Convention." It seems that Satan didn't want us there. Well, we got the victory anyway and attended the convention.
The last stop on that trip was a Homeschooling convention in Plano, TX (outside of Dallas). We had a good convention, ministering to several people and selling quite a few of our language curriculums.
Right at the end of the convention, we met a couple from Lubbock. Their children weren't even old enough to start school yet, but they were there at the prompting of some friends.
He was a pilot in the Air Force. She had been a missionary kid in north Africa. Together, they had spent time in the middle east, while he was stationed there with the Air Force.
We spent a couple of hours sharing with them about faith, marriage, and missions.
They helped us pack up from the convention, and we gave them one of Rich's
teaching tapes on "Being the Priest of Your Home." Somewhere in the conversation,
we probably mentioned that we were believing God for a motor home. That was
the last we heard from them for a while.
After losing the fax for a couple of days in my briefcase, we finally called. They weren't home, so we left a message. That evening, they called back. It was a short conversation, punctuated by several "Praise the Lords." They said that "God had told them to bless us and give us their motor home."
God had actually told him first. While at the convention, Debbie met her first. She had told her husband about our language books, and that we had been on the missions field. Before even meeting us, God clearly told him to "Give them your R.V."
They had only had the motor home for a couple of months. Just enough time to take a couple of trips and do a little fixing up. But, they didn't act right away. This idea of giving away large items like this was a little new, so they had to take some time to be sure this was really what God had said. But, in the end, it all came down to the fact that God said give.
It was a 33 foot Winnebego. After hearing a little more about it, we determined
that it was the exact same configuration as one we had wanted to buy. How's
that for God supplying the desires of our hearts?
To make matters worse, November was the worst financial month we had since we started in ministry. God had given the motor home, he would have to give the means to pick it up. Whenever anyone asked, we told them that "God was going to provide the means."
During this time, we started working on another project, in conjunction with another ministry. Part of our vision is to provide training materials for church leaders in third world countries. Being in America, we don't realize how much of a glut of teaching material we have. The rest of the world need some of it.
This other ministry had created a six volume full-gospel bible school curriculum. Their vision was to take it overseas, especially in Africa and South America, and set up schools for ministers. There was only one problem, they needed it in other languages.
We undertook translating this series into French, and Swahili. As part of our agreement with the other ministry, they had raised funds to help finance the translating work. For each page translated, they would pay us a small amount. Our goal wasn't the money, but if we were going to spend that much time on the project, it was nice know there was something there to help pay the bills.
Once into the project, the other ministry realized they had trouble with
the payment schedule. Not that they couldn't give us what they had agreed
to, but getting it to us on time was a paperwork problem. So, they gave us
an advance on the work we were doing. This gave us the funds we needed to
pick up the motor home.
Of course, the enemy was trying to play with our minds while we drove. It was all lies, but we didn't need to hear suggestions like, "they're not going to give it to you, what they're really planning is to sell it to you cheap." Or, "you'll get there and they'll change their minds" (we almost had that happen to us once). Satan is so obvious sometimes, and this was one of them. But, when you're standing in faith, you still don't need to hear it.
Two thirds of the way to Texas put us in Southwest Missouri. Suddenly, we had a smoke screen behind the car. You know, the kind you can't see through. Fortunately, we were only a mile from a rest stop, and pulled in there.
Rich popped open the hood and started poking around. He thought that a oil line had broken and was spilling oil onto the hot exhaust manifold. But no, there didn't appear to be any leaks. When he restarted the car, it was obvious that the smoke was coming out of the tailpipes. Whatever the problem was, it wasn't the type of thing you can fix in a rest stop with only a few tools, and no parts store nearby.
There was a couple in nearby Springfield that we had stayed with earlier in the year on another trip. Having retrieved their phone number from information, we tried to give them a call. Of course, at such times, you love talking to answering machines, and we didn't even have a number for them to call back.
While all this was going on, a gray schoolbus pulled into the lot. We couldn't read it at the time, but the sign on the front had been changed to read "The Ark." A woman and her son from the bus started talking to our son.
She asked Joshua, "Are you folks in the ministry?"
He answered, "Yes," and proceeded to tell them what we do.
With this, she ran back to the bus to tell her husband. He walked up while we were still at the phone booth. As far as we knew, he was just waiting to use the phone.
When we hung up, without being able to contact our friends, he asked if we were having some problems.
Not knowing who he was, Rich told him we had just lost our engine, while on our way to Texas. He offered to take us to his house, then 70 miles away, and give us a hand with the car situation.
Looking at our vast range of no options, we took him up on the offer. Only in the Body of Christ can you find people who are total strangers acting with hospitality toward one another like this. Here we were, total strangers except for Jesus, and they took us into their home, and loaned us a car.
We had dinner with them, and spent the night. The next morning, he and Rich rented a tow dolly, and went back to pick up the car. After delivering it to his driveway, we took their van for the remainder of the trip.
Not only had God arranged a brother and sister to be there when we needed them, but his timing was perfect. They were in the process of moving from Missouri to the southeast corner of Kansas. Had they been on time, they would have been through that rest stop about four hours earlier. But instead, they had problems which slowed them down. We had only been in the rest area for about ten minutes, just long enough to determine that we had a real problem, when they showed up.
We made it to Texas without any further problems. Our motor home was sitting
in front of their house with a bow on it, and a gift tag from Jesus to us.
Now, when we travel, we can take our home with us. Praise the Lord!
Unfortunately, the van that had been loaned to us didn't fit on the tow dolly. So, Debbie had to drive the van following Rich in the motor home. We started off on the trip without any problem.
Going through western Oklahoma, Rich was keeping an eye on Debbie. She didn't like driving long distances, or through traffic either. Every couple of minutes, he'd check the rear-view mirror to make sure she was still there. All of a sudden, he didn't see the van behind him. "Hey kids" he yelled "look out the window and see if mom is still there!"
The kids checked, and sure enough mom was gone. Not knowing what had happened, Rich pulled the motor home over to the side of the road to see if she would catch up. Maybe she had been tired, and stopped to stretch her legs.
But no, she didn't catch up. Finding an exit, Rich turned around the motor home. With kids looking out the front and back, they went back to find where mom was.
A few miles down the road, they found the van pulled over to the side. Rich turned back around (through the median would you believe?) and pulled up behind her. When he went to her door, she said that she had "lost the accelerator pedal."
Now, how do you lose an accelerator pedal? That was a new one. Debbie went in the motor home with the kids, and Rich started poking around. Sure enough, the accelerator pedal wasn't sticking up. Of course, being a pretty old van, it didn't really have an accelerator pedal, just the rod it would have mounted to. But, it wasn't where it should be either. In fact, it was resting on the floorboards.
It seemed that the cable attached to the accelerator had snapped. That made for an interesting problem. Being an experienced engineer, Rich thought he could solve most problems, but this one had him stumped. To engineer something, you have to have materials to work with, and out in the middle of nowhere, materials were somewhat scarce. This wasn't a part you could pick up from the auto parts store either.
Whenever he had an engineering problem he couldn't solve, Rich was in the habit of praying. So naturally, he prayed then. The Holy Spirit led him to try starting the van. Once it was running, the Holy Spirit told him to try pulling the end of the cable with pliers. Finding a pair of vice grips in his toolbox, he tried. Sure enough, when he pulled the wire, the engine revved up. "Gee," Rich said, "maybe I can drive this van by pulling the pliers." That didn't work however, because he couldn't reach it while sitting up.
God reminded him of his Army days, and the hand throttle on Army jeeps. If he just had a piece of rope, or string attached to the pliers, it would make a great hand throttle.
Searching the motor home yielded no string. However, there were wire coat hangers in the closet. The hook from the hanger fit nicely through the jaws of the pliers, and when the hanger was stretched out it made a great hand throttle. But God wasn't through engineering yet.
Looking at the jury rig, Rich saw the end of the accelerator pedal rod right at the "Y" of the coat hanger. The Holy Spirit prompted him to hook them together. Lo and behold, you could drive the van like normal, and you couldn't even tell it was "creatively" put together. Rich knew God must have shown him this solution, because it came in a way that was much different from his normal engineering process. Praise the Lord, again!
The couple that had loaned them the van attended a Spirit-Filled Southern Baptist church in southeast Kansas. They wanted to make it back in time for church Sunday morning. Thinking church started at 9:45, they pressed on.
About midnight, they decided enough was enough. Sometimes, human bodies need sleep. So they spent the rest of the night in a rest stop (one of the beauties of motor home travel).
The next morning, they pressed on, finally pulling up to the church at 11:00 am. Service had just started, and they weren't late after all! Sunday school started at 9:45, not the church service.
The pastor recognized who we were as soon as we walked in the church. He waved us over and had us sit in the front pew. After worship, he asked Rich to share. Talk about being ready in season and out! Rich shared this testimony, teaching about seed faith in giving. The service ended with Rich praying for the church and pastor, giving him a word about going to the nations.
It's always fun to see God confirm his word. That pastor had just received
a couple of requests to come and minister in East Africa. Our confirmation
was just what he needed. In fact, he ended up buying a copy of our Swahili
curriculum, so he could start preparing for that trip.
We spent some time explaining to them about seed faith, something they were just starting to learn about. The motor home they gave us is the seed for their airplane. We can't wait to hear how God supplies this next generation of blessing.
If You Would Like
a Copy of This Testimony,
A final note on the motorhome. In February of 2006, God opened the door for us to move out of it, and into a house. We lived a total of nine years in the motorhome, A little more than three years of it was traveling full-time, following the leading of the Lord, ministering throughout the United States. In all, we ministered in 42 states.
At the end of that time traveling, the Lord moved us to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, to minister in Mexico. For the next few years, we traveled in the motorhome to minister "up north" during the summer, and lived in it along the Texas/Mexico border.
The motorhome now has a new owner, even though it's rather old, and in need of many repairs. A pastor bought it from us to use for his family. We hope that it serves them as well as it served us.
Copyright © 1998, 2006 by Richard A. Murphy, Maranatha Life All rights reserved.