I spent much of that May evening in 1971 walking in a park and praying about my wife and baby daughter and my future. My year as an intern pastor was coming to a close, and finding a job to support us and a place to live and enough money to return to seminary in Chicago were on my mind. So far I had no idea how these issues could be resolved. We had spent all of our savings, meager as they were, during the intern year, replacing a failing vehicle, and paying daily expenses. There was nothing left, even to pay for a small U-Haul truck to move our stuff. Every option I had investigated during the previous three months had gone nowhere. We would soon be out of time as well as money, as the internship ended in two weeks. My mood was bleak.
In the next afternoon, a knock on the door opened to a man who was active in one of the churches I had served. He said his wife and he had been praying together the evening before, and they thought of us, and they wanted to help. He handed me a check for $100. On the evening of the next day I met with a study group I had organized during the year. They wanted to thank me for the many evenings we had spent together; they had collected $150. The next day I finally got word that a small apartment would be available to us, and I had been awarded a fellowship that would pay for our housing, tuition, and living expenses at seminary; the seminary had received an unexpected donation to organize its archives, and the fellowship supported me to do that, with my experience working in the seminary library and prior graduate history studies. In the next few days more gifts came from several co-workers in the churches.
We had enough, just enough, within a week of my night of despair. It was a lesson that would be repeated in many circumstances in the following years, but none more dramatically for us.