The heart of the gospel is meeting ordinary needs around us. That’s all Jesus requires. I hear, Yes, buts. Let them go. You never lack opportunity to talk about Jesus when you live like him. We’re swept along on tide of providence, equipped for whatever God assigns. Paul wrote, ”For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” Note that last phrase.
Thirty years ago I met Amy Van Ooyen, a retired Dutch immigrant struggling with her writing. She had great stories on paper, but what next? I came along with 35 years of writing, editing, and publishing and time on my hands.
Amy was drawn to the folksy stories written by University of Michigan professor Dr. Charles Gage Van Riper (Cully Cage). She had the nerve to contact him and he helped her in many ways. Amy shared Cully Gage’s books with me and I devoured them.
The Ironwood, Michigan church I came to serve as interim had a broadcast problem, and I had the know-how and equipment to handle it. The 30-minute Coffee in the Kitchen drew favorable notice.
I spent evening hours reading Cully Gage stories. One called the Perfect Outhouse sparked an idea. I put together a Coffee in the Parsonage called The Theology of Cully Gage (he was not noted for piety). I blended old gospel songs with snatches from Gage’s writings and sent him the tape. That launched a warm, extended correspondence.
Amy’s stories needed fine-tuning, and I worked many hours doing what editors do. I gave guidance about how to turn stories into a book. When Amy kept insisting she pay me, I suggested Claude carve something. I gave him my letterhead with its rustic logo. Months later, Claude unveiled the 18 by 30, intricately-detailed hard-maple carving that graces my living room.
So you have a hack preacher, a church with a problem, a remarkable immigrant woman with stories and her wood-carving husband. Toss in a world-renowned university professor-writer. Any way you look at it, life is a marvelous adventure.
Old Grandpa Lloyd