Lois and I were married in September. By July we were living in Celina, Ohio and I was pastoring a little country church they called Beaver Chapel. We celebrated our first wedding anniversary there in our neat little white parsonage across Swamp Road from the church. That is where we would celebrate our second Christmas. The next October Kyle would come into our lives changing them for good and forever. We were happy there. I had pastured a church in high school for a year, but this was my first full-time church. We lived in the parsonage and they paid our utilities and paid us 130.00 dollars a week if my memory serves me well.
When Christmas came I enjoyed preparing Christmas messages and Christmas services. The people were good to us. On the Sunday night before Christmas there was a Sunday School program. Everyone was there in the little church house. At the end of the program just before I pronounced the benediction the people interrupted me and took over the service. Someone carried a large box through the back door and presented it to us as a Christmas present. I opened it up and it was a small artificial Christmas tree with little ornaments all over it that looked like tiny Christmas presents. We thanked the people and prayed and said Merry Christmas to each family as they bundled up and drove off into the night. We turned down the heat and turned off the lights and walked across to the parsonage. There at home we put the little tree on a table.
Lois said, “We’re supposed to unwrap all the little ornaments.”
As we began to unwrap the ornaments we realized all of them were made of cash. We sat there together unwrapping the little ornaments until there were all gone. The people had given us the equivilent of about three week’s salary.
We were so grateful and surprised at what the people had done. It was a small church filled with common people but they had given sacrificially so we would feel loved at Christmastime. There were just the two of us there in the parsonage that night. We went to bed grateful and happy. We were just learning what marriage and life were about, and we were just beginning to see what a good provider God is.
The next Christmas we were in Michigan. I was serving on the pastoral staff of Fulkerson Park Baptist Church in Niles.
Early in the fall the Senior Pastor, Larry Whiteford, asked me to call Christian schools and organize an orange sale. His family owned a trucking company. He sent a truck to Florida in late November and bought a load of good navel oranges. I sold them to the schools for a fund raiser. A week before Christmas the orange sales were over and all the oranges that were ordered were gone. We had over-ordered a little and I noticed that the over order was going to go to waste. I asked Pastor Whieford if he wanted me to sell the over-order at a discount so they would not ruin. He liked the idea and suggested that I sell them for ten dollars a case. It was a bargain. I got a pick-up truck and Lois and Kyle and I went out selling the oranges. It took us all day but we eventually sold all the oranges.
I was excited at my success. If I remember I sold about 60 boxes of oranges at 10.00 a box. My pocket was thick with bills. I stopped and used a pay phone to call pastor Whiteford. He was elated with my success. “So you sold them all, did you?”
“I did, every one.”
“You got ten dollars a box?”
“I did. I have 600.00 dollars in my pocket right now.”
“Well, Ken, you did a good job. You just take that money and have a merry Christmas. And you can take the rest of the day off.”
At the time, though all of our needs were met, our salary was very small and there were few extras. Elated and surprised, I bounced back to the car to tell Lois of Pastor Whiteford’s gift. She was happy. The gift came as an unexpected boon. We had an especially nice Christmas.
At the time I could not look into the future and see that our little Kyle would be joined by three brothers and four sisters. I couldn’t have imagined that our weekly grocery bill will climb from twenty-five dollars a week to two-hundred. There would be insurance and taxes and dental work and auto insurance and in-line skates and bikes. There would be summer trips to our home school convention and school books. There would be baseball cleats and heating bills and phone bills and doctor bills. There would be literally hundreds of pizzas and hundreds of gallon of pop.
Back then we could not have imagined that through the years every single need would be met. Our income has always been modest but we have enjoyed many pleasures. People have been good to us. God has been good to us. We did not know that there would be many more delightful surprises along the way. There would be gifts and joys and delights beyond our imagination year after year. We would have food in abundance and rich fellowship with people of like mind. We would have clothing and shelter and, what’s more valuable than all, the capacity to enjoy them.
We would have difficult times. We would have needs. We would have discouragements and we would have enemies. We would have fears and questions, but God would supply all our real needs and hide delights for us all along the way. Many of those delights would come at Christmas time disguised as pressures and challenges and troubles. With the troubles has been a deep and abiding knowledge within that each of these are not random circumstances but arrangements of the Almighty, out-workings of his sovereignty, weavings of providence.
Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas.
Kenneth L. Pierpont
Riverfront Character Inn
December 22, 2003
Kenneth L. Pierpont
Riverfront Character Inn
December 22, 2003
If you like Christmas stories be sure you take a look at https://kenpierpont.com/mt_archive/cat_christmas_stories.php You will find some Christmas reading there.
The third week in January the first Eternal Vision Ministry Team will form and we are expecting at least fifty in the first class. If you would like to read about the program take a look at www.students.iblp.org/eternalvision
We would like to invite you to register for the Tom’s Harmon’s Summit here at the Character Inn the weekend of January 16-17. This will be a rich weekend for the whole family. For details visit Tom Harmon’s web site www.tdharmon.com