California or Bust, Part 2

Young Faith, Old Memories and Timeless Treasures (cont’d from Part 1, posted on August 10)

(1970 Campus Crusade for Christ Staff Conference)


During our training, one of the speakers presented the new staff with a challenge. Be prepared to go anywhere and do anything.  No problem for us. We were ready!  Besides, we were going back to Atlanta to live. Right?  

God boosted our faith in so many ways that summer. Two biggies: *a faithful team of supporters who believed in us and God’s call on our lives *a summer home for our family in the mountains above San Bernardino.

While we were in classes, our three oldest girls attended the camp provided for staff kids. Katie was only eight months old so she stayed at the house with my mother. Every morning, the rest of us drove down through an ominous layer of thick smog into beautiful Arrowhead Springs. I see this now as a graphic picture of how God had brought us through a spiritual fog into the clarity of His love and plan for us.  

As we expected, we were assigned to the Lay Ministry. So far, no surprises. And then the day we’d anticipated all summer finally arrived. Our director, Howard Ball gathered the new staff to receive our ministry locations. An exchange of nervous whispers rippled through the crowd. And then an aura of silence settled over the auditorium while we waited.

Howard began to call out various names to come forward. Was this the Academy Awards? It felt like it. However, instead of Oscars, we would receive envelopes holding our specific assignments. The tension was high. Since the list was alphabetical, guess who had to wait ‘til the end for our names to be called. We were pretty sure we’d be assigned to Atlanta. Still, it was nerve-wracking.

One by one, the staff rushed back to their seats to open their envelopes. A range of emotions began to erupt across the room. Some shouted; a few cried and others sat dumbfounded in their seats.

Finally, we heard our name and Jay made his way up front. Our eyes locked as he returned to his seat. In not so calm anticipation, we huddled together while he tore open the envelope. The verdict loomed before us. It may as well have read Siberia.


We were flabbergasted! How could this be? It must be a mistake. Our director quickly made his way toward us with a wise suggestion. Don’t talk to anyone else until you’ve taken the time to discuss and pray about the assignment.

That’s exactly what we did, for three hours. By then, the shock had subsided and we were able to think more rationally. We knew the Crusade leadership had prayerfully sought God’s direction for the staff. So we decided to trust their decision as God’s will for us. After that, we were truly excited about our first assignment.

That summer, our family learned a lot about prayer. We discovered the greater the needs, the more apt we are to pray. We also experienced first hand that prayer comes more easily when we’ve tasted God’s faithfulness. God had proved His faithfulness, and our needs were many. Therefore, we were prime candidates for some serious praying. And it was only the beginning.

We knew we’d have to rent a house in New York sight unseen. So one morning, as we traveled down the mountain, we made a prayer list with our girls. They suggested things they would like to have in a house. We added our own requests to the list. From then on, we faithfully prayed through the list.

A few of the requests:

  • a fenced yard so we could have a dog (Not exactly our request, but that’s what they wanted, so that’s what we prayed)                                                                 
  • a fireplace for the long cold winter                                                                            
  • appliances in the kitchen to match our refrigerator                                               
  • for us to live near our church family since Jay would be traveling periodically    
  • enough room for everyone (We had no idea at the time that Lisa our surprise daughter #5, would join our family the following May. But God  knew!)                                                                                        

There were 18 specific prayer requests. I’ll never forget that snowy day in December when we arrived at 24 McGaw Ave, Centereach, NY. The children ran through the house, marking off answers to prayer. Talk about a faith builder for our family. God had provided every request, including two fireplaces!

Jokingly, we referred to Long Island as our “foreign” mission field duty. The real joke came 24 years later when we were asked to move to Siberia. One thing for sure, God’s sense of humor is always intact. And His timing is impeccable.

That day in Joyce’s driveway, we didn’t feel like Abraham. We felt like ordinary people with a desire to obey an extraordinary God. Isn’t that the essence of faith? To love and trust God enough to follow Him wherever He leads? It was no big deal on our part. It was and always will be about Him and His faithfulness!

      Thanks for taking a stroll with me down memory lane. I hope our story has encouraged you in your faith. And I pray it’s offered you food for thought, as well. Let’s agree to remember wherever God’s will takes us, His grace will provide for us—not somehow but abundantly.


(Check the Crumbs section for info on a book about praying for your family.)

4 Responses to “California or Bust, Part 2”
  1. Millie says:

    This made me weepy, Mom!! What an amazing missionary spirit…not sure that marks enough of us these days!! I’m reminded and convicted!! LOVE YOU!

    • Thanks, dear middle daughter. I wish each of you could have interjected your memories, as well. We’re so blessed to have daughters with hearts for God. And we’re especially honored that God called you to follow in our Crusade footsteps. Or should I say Cru footsteps.

      Love you, Mom

  2. Mary Beth Welsh says:

    The walk down memory lane makes me a bit teary, so many mixed emotions during that first move. However, when I think of who we have all become because of your step of faith back in 1970, what a blessing it all was. Love you!

    • Thanks, oldest daughter. I suppose you struggled with our moves more than the others. And yet your heart for God has been an inspiration to your sisters. We are proud of who you have become, each of you. We are so blessed.

      Love you, Mom

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