#22. 54 Rejections

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

One month before my high school graduation, I met the woman who would become my wife for 47 years and counting. We both lived in small, rural Kansas towns but went to different high schools. God brought us together just in time—right before I left for college. I had been a terrible teenager, but God changed my life through my wife. Despite my many poor choices in life up to that point, the Lord brought to me a companion who accepted me not based on my past but based on what the Lord was doing in my life through Christ.  I had recently committed my life to the Lord and repented of all the terrible things that I had done. We dated for approximately one year before getting married. She was always there for me as an encourager, helping me focus on the mission that God had laid before us. To this day, I continually praise God for the wonderful grace He brought to me that day in April of 1968.

I had wanted to go to the University of Kansas to become a chemical engineer, but my parents only had $500 for my college education, so I opted for the chemical engineering program at Kansas State University, which was less expensive. I had saved enough money to get through one year of college if I worked while going to school—so that is what I did. At the end of my freshman year and before starting my sophomore year, I married the young woman that the Lord had brought into my life 16 months earlier. We moved into the basement of my wife’s cousin and my wife worked to support us while I was in school.

In April of 1972, a month before graduating from college, my wife was six months pregnant, and I had no job offers and no insurance. Chemical engineers had previously been in great demand, but the year I graduated was the first year of the oil crisis and companies were laying people off and not hiring. I had 54 job interviews and NO OFFERS!

Finally, I had a job offer from a government contractor making nuclear bombs. This didn’t feel right to me; furthermore, my wife’s pregnancy and delivery would not be covered by their insurance. We had reached a point of desperation but again God in His perfect timing intervened. A company with which I had previously interviewed and was rejected by called me back for an interview in Michigan. I caught a plane as soon as I could, but when I arrived, the human resources director said they had hired everyone they were going to hire. I must have looked very disappointed because they said they would try and arrange an interview with the company across the street for the next day. 

The interview went well. The job was a perfect fit for what I wanted to do. They offered me the job with benefits that would cover my wife’s pregnancy and delivery! This was the only company with which I had interviewed who would cover the medical costs of a pre-existing pregnancy. Again, I had to praise God for His providential care. 

But there was one more hurdle. I didn’t have a car that would make it to Michigan where my job was located. There was no way for my wife and me to get from Kansas to Michigan. I tried to get a loan at the bank, showing them that I was to begin work at a big company as a chemical engineer, but they turned me down.  My grandmother, who knew the president of the bank, offered them the money she had set aside for her burial as security for our car loan. They agreed and we were set! Once again, God had provided, this time through my grandmother.  

There were many more lessons that the Lord had to teach me. One was the lesson of humility. On my first day at work on my new job, my manager told me that prior to offering me the job they had narrowed down the choice to two people. The other person was so overqualified that they decided to offer me the job. This helped me see that it wasn’t my efforts that were the key ingredient in my life, but rather the Lord’s direction and control over people, places, and circumstances. I don’t know what my future would have been at any of the 54 companies that turned me down, but the job I ended up getting—across the street from one of those 54 companies—turned out to be an incredible opportunity.

I worked 32 years with that company. I became the executive director of Science and Technology for one of their major businesses and was one of their top-compensated employees in the company. I was able to see and do many amazing things, including living overseas with my family for four years. 

Praise God for the 54 rejections. Praise God for the one offer that was just in time and provided so well for our family. And praise God for my wife whom God used to transform my life. Praise God that I am now able to be a full-time missionary, leading an agency dedicated to taking the gospel to places where Christ is not known. Praise God that I can do this without requiring any funds for my own living expenses and thus return 100 percent of the donations to the Lord’s work. And finally, praise God for the hundreds who are giving their lives to Christ because of His work in this ministry. To God alone be the glory.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

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