The Move to Milwaukee

After eight years at Swift & Co. in Minneapolis, we were transferred to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where we built a new two-story home with dormers in the front and a full basement. We fixed up a room in the basement for the missionaries and visitors to our chapel, as well as our own guests.

The walls there were built of cement blocks, which we let the occupants of our guest room paint. We kept small cans of different colors of enamel paint and paint brushes handy. Each guest would choose a color of paint, paint one of the blocks, and sign and date it. We had the most colorful and interesting basement walls in the neighborhood! The painted walls served as a reminder of many notable preachers and missionaries from all over the world who had stayed with us.

We attended the Milwaukee assembly and became active in speaking and teaching Sunday school as well as children’s meetings in the area. Later, we helped build up the work in Waukesha, a suburb of Milwaukee—the result of the labors of Henry and Alice Peterson. They were leaving for California and asked Gladys and me to help in that work. I sought to serve as an elder there, taught the Word in the chapel, and endeavored to do the work of an evangelist. The assembly grew and the work was excellent experience for us.

Before being transferred to Milwaukee, we had built a house on a piece of property given to us by Gladys’ father. When we moved, we rented this to a friend. After the first month, their payments stopped. They ignored several inquiries, but weren’t interested in moving out either. They knew we were Christians and we did not want to hound them for the rent, nor did we want to go to court to force them to vacate, so we left it with the Lord. We needed the money, but it was a test of our faith. The Lord would either lead them to pay us, or supply our need in another way. After all, weren’t we planning to go to Africa on faith?

For six months we didn’t hear from them. One day we were surprised to get a letter saying they were sorry they had not paid their rent, and they wanted us to forgive them. It was a touching letter—but without a check. They asked us if they could buy the house from us by making monthly payments, adding all the back rent. We agreed on a price, with us financing the loan at a low interest rate so that the mortgage payments would be equal to the rent payments. It shouldn’t have surprised us that they never made any of these payments, either. Again, we didn’t contact them, but asked the Lord to help them decide to make the payments.

After another year-and-a-half, we received another letter. This one was a real sob story. Again, they said that they were sorry at having made no payments, but they had recently figured out a way to pay us all the back monthly installments, but now they could not because the house had burned to the ground, with all of their life savings. Their conscience was stricken, and they went on to say that they would surely pay us for the house as soon as they were able.

What they actually did was to borrow some money to start a restaurant, still not paying us anything. Five or six months later, a fire destroyed their restaurant, too. It was then that we received another letter from them with a check for the full amount owed on the house. The letter read, “We can’t take the Lord’s dealing with us any longer; we have borrowed the money to pay you for your house. Here’s your check.”

This was another spiritual lesson. God is faithful to answer prayer and to look after the welfare of His own. We recalled that scripture, “Them that honor Me, I will honor.” We have claimed this verse again and again in our lives for comfort and direction. He is able!