When you are on bottom, any good news is a boost, but it is even better when it is completely unexpected.
3/30/97 Received an email from someone from Harding (my college alma mater) named Dwane. I looked him up in the yearbook. I vaguely recall him. He said he heard about our work through a mutual friend in Florida (Keith). Dwane had been a vocational missionary in the Pacific Northwest and received one of our newsletters from Keith. He emailed me asking to talk with me. Less than an hour after getting the email, I got a call from him. He wants to meet with me in Knoxville to talk. I hope he has some insights into how we can do better. I can use the advice.
4/1/97 “Today, I went to Knoxville to meet with Dwane.”…
NOTE: The next entry in my journal is long. This is the account in abbreviated form:
I met Dwane in the lobby of a nice hotel he'd suggested. Immediately I felt very out of my comfort zone. I'm a country boy and a 'bush missionary', so these posh surroundings were intimidating. Dwane introduced himself telling me he had two young daughters and a wife and he asked about my family. I thought this was a good start and he didn't carry the same airs as our surroundings.
The conversation shifted at some point to business. I was anxious to learn from him about how he and his wife had worked at church planting and carried on a vocation in the Northwest, but his direction was different, and I recognized it quickly. The emphasis of this meeting was not at all what I'd expected. Dwane wasn't here to give me advice on missions; he had called this meeting in answer to another of my prayers --- he was offering me a job!
Quickly, however, I was lost in a jungle of unfamiliar jargon. IT and IS were not "it" and "is", but abbreviations for something connected with computers. He spoke of "languages", "requirements", "platforms", "systems", and all sorts of things which didn't mean in this conversation what they'd meant in the English sentences I'd grown up with. I tried to follow, but honestly, I could not understand exactly what he was talking about, but I listened on. My missionary training came into play since for most of my early years in Kenya I'd been lost in conversations in which I did not have full mastery of the language. So, I grasped what I could.
What I could understand was that this man had his family as a priority, that he did what he did to honor God, that he was asking me to consider joining his company, and that he was a man who prayed. (Leading a prayer at the close of our meeting). I understood those and they were the important elements anyway. So, I took him up on his offer.
Specifically, he asked that over the next 2 weeks I listen to about 25 hours of VHS tapes related to his business. (Turns out he owned Hi-Tech Resources-- a small recruiting company for information technology professionals.) I agreed. Then, he said, "Good. If you want to proceed after that, then we will start. In the meantime, I want to pay you $500 for your time listening to the tapes." Maybe it is a 'man-thing', but it just felt very good for someone to value me that much. I had not been paid that much money for my time in a very long while. On the drive home I prayed, I praised, and....(this isn't a very 'man-thing')...I fought, but could not defeat, tears. It felt that good to be valued and it felt that good to realize how close God was to me and my prayers.
A real job! We again had a glimmer of hope and were refreshed, but only briefly. There were 'catches' in the arrangement. Dwane's position had limited guarantees and tall hurdles. I had three months to accomplish what Dwane admitted had taken him a full eighteen months. Again, it was clear that only by God's help in answer to our prayers could the necessary requirements be provided.