Two of the leaders of Christ Center were Paul and Rebecca Petrie. In 1972 they were invited to spend the summer in Sweden with a group of Christian young adults. Those ten college-age adults would be traveling throughout Sweden speaking in churches and schools, and they asked the Petries to go with them. I felt strongly that I was supposed to join the group in Sweden, but because of my commitments I wouldn’t be free to go until September. We all discussed and prayed about possibilities, then left the scheduling in God’s hands.
Around May I received a letter from Paul saying that the traveling team was about to move into a large home in Stockholm and use it as their home base. He felt they needed someone to help them settle in and learn how to live together in one house. He had been invited to move on to Germany and work with the U.S. military as a pastor, and that left the door wide open for me to go to Sweden in September. The only problem was that I had no money. I wasn’t sure how long I would be in Sweden, so I decided that I needed to save up quite a bit before heading there. I didn’t know how I’d finance all of this, but hadn’t the Lord been teaching me to walk in faith? Here was the chance to put my faith into action. How excited I was about trusting the Lord for my finances to go to Sweden!
As I prayed, I sensed the Lord telling me to get a job outdoors for the summer. I thought about outside jobs, and the only ones I could come up with were with the Lexington Park Service. I applied at all the parks but had no luck. In early July I heard of a conference in Indiana and decided to attend. Mutual friends introduced me to Sam and Ann Warren, who were also planning to go to the conference, and we agreed to ride up together.
As we drove through the rolling countryside of northern Kentucky, I asked, “Sam, what do you do for a living?”
“I’m a doctor,” he replied, “but I also own a farm called Honey Hill. We raise corn, cows, and chickens, and work a vegetable garden that would feed an army,” he said, laughing.
Immediately, I sensed the Lord saying that this was to be my “outside job.” I took a deep breath and asked, “Do you need some help this summer?”
“We always need help,” he responded.
“Well, what would you pay?”
His answer momentarily floored me. “Nothing,” was his reply.
I didn’t think this was what God was saying, but as we talked, I began to believe that it was exactly what he was saying.
We continued our conversation, and in the end, Sam offered me a place to live with him and his wife — free room and board and five dollars a day. I had calculated that I would need a minimum of $1,000 by September to pay for airfare and initial expenses in Sweden, but this would only be thirty dollars a week for six weeks. That was nowhere near $1,000. I felt strongly, though, that the Lord was directing me this way. Absurd as it seemed, I agreed to go.
That summer I learned a lot about farming. I raked and baled hay, planted arrow-straight rows of corn, fed squawky chickens, tackled runaway guineas, painted an aging barn, mowed plush grass, and mended ailing fences. But the two biggest jobs were cleaning out nine horse and cow stalls and weeding out a twenty-five-by-sixty-foot flower garden. The warm summer sun, the smell of freshly cut grass, the colorful garden rows, and the cacophony of the animals made this new experience a rich one. I thrived on the vigor of it and worked ten hours a day, six days a week. In the afternoons, we took breaks and enjoyed fresh cold milkshakes out on the side porch. There we sat and visited for a few minutes before going out to the fields again. I became great friends with Sam and Ann as we worked and lived together that summer. I stayed on the farm for the agreed upon six weeks, and true to his word, Sam paid me thirty dollars a week.
The date of my trip was rapidly approaching. I had set September 20 as my departure date, and I still had very little money — only a few hundred dollars. I wasn’t at all sure how God would provide for my expenses, but I felt confident that I’d been obedient in following his directions by spending my summer at the Warrens. Now was a time to pray and trust.
Early in September, Ann invited me to come to dinner before I left for Sweden. As I entered her home, she called for me to come to her bedroom. She had just been napping and earlier had been having a quiet time. Ann told me that the Lord had led her to read in the New Testament, and a verse had jumped out at her that said “and give liberally to all those that go abroad.” She turned to me and asked, “Sue, how much money do you need for your trip?”
“Well,” I replied, “I have some money saved up, but I still don’t have my airfare.” To my utter amazement, she took out her checkbook and signed a blank check. My heart soared. I was grateful, giddy, awestruck, and totally surprised, all at the same time. What a great God!
True to his word, he had provided for my every need. What an exciting walk of faith. The Lord had commanded, “Get an outside job.” I’d responded, even though the job looked impossible. And he had taken care of the rest.
“And my God will meet all your needs, according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”