The $23 Miracle

Raising seven children in the 1960’s I’m sure was no easy task.  My parents were hard workers and wonderful providers.  Not only did they both work full-time jobs, after they got home they either worked in the garden or dad took on outside carpentry jobs. 

Dad planted unusually large gardens, and in September mom canned vegetables in our large kitchen.  Their labors provided us with vegetables during cold weather and course helped reduce groceries bills. 

On many occasions mom canned well into the early morning hours.  I remember drifting off to sleep listening to the sounds of lids popping!  My siblings and I would later line our basement shelves with green beans, corn, tomatoes, okra, beets, potatoes, and other yummy winter delights. 

In late summer dad would load his pick-up truck with garden produce and head for the Farmer’s Market in Youngstown.  Proceeds from these trips went toward buying school clothes and supplies.  Dad also raised a hog or two or a cow to slaughter in the fall.  By the end of October we were ready for winter in the “snow belt.”  I realize I sound like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 21st century counterpart, but it’s true!     

You can imagine that money was tight in our home, and I tried not to place additional financial burdens on my parents, except for one day in July 1970.  My pastor’s wife had approached me with the idea of going to youth camp in Big Prairie, Ohio.  She sensed that God was working in my heart and encouraged me to do everything I could to attend. 

Because I had no way of earning money, this meant asking my dad for the necessary registration and camp fee.  Timidity almost overwhelmed me, but something (Someone!) strongly stirred me to approach dad for the money.  It’s not that I was afraid of him, but I knew that money for “extras” was in short supply.  Besides, I had to consider my brothers and sisters.  Understand, $23.00 represented quite a sacrifice in a family of nine. 

In retrospect, I realize the Holy Spirit honored my hungry, searching heart and gave me the fortitude to ask my dad for the necessary amount.  Mom and dad were sitting at the kitchen table, relaxing after a hard day’s work.  I approached them with my voice quivering and said, “Dad, I’d love to go to camp in a few weeks. Could I have $23.00?”  I believe the Holy Spirit touched his heart at that precise moment and without hesitation dad said, “Yeah, I don’t see why not.”  Subsequently, he placed his hand on my head as if to say, “It’s alright!”  That quick touch said, “We love you.”  Mom immediately wrote the check.

Since that day I have referred to this incident as my “Twenty-three dollar miracle.”  First, I knew my parents sacrificed greatly to send me to camp.  Second, on August 4, 1970 I responded to an invitation to accept Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and simultaneously was called to preach!  Dad’s $23.00 investment yielded a minister of the Gospel!

To this day, as finances allow, I love helping young people go to camp.  I wish to payback what God so miraculously made possible in my life. 



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