Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"I Will NEVER Say NO"

On a recent overnight stay with Dale and Cheryl Stultz in Anderson, IN, I browsed Dale’s book shelves and two self-published biographies jumped out at me. They were about people with whom I had some personal experiences. I Will NEVER Say NO is a 178 page autobiography telling of the ministry of Lavern and Aleta Beach, following his conversion as a Christian shortly after they married.

Their ministry journey began during the cold winter of January 1939 when Lavern was unemployed and sitting in a movie house in Coldwater, MI. He was enjoying a brief respite from the turmoil of his struggles to succeed as a responsible bread winner for his family. He had worked at his temporary job long enough to draw a pay check and send  money home to his family, who were sustained by the washings and ironings his wife took in.

While the movie proved interesting, he could not escape the conviction that God was calling him to invest his life in God’s service. Thus begins a life story summarized by the commitment he made to God when he became a Christian. His conversion to Christ led to a lifetime in Christian ministry under the auspices of the Church of God (Anderson Convention), in which he was eventually ordained.

L.D.’s lifetime commitment to God confirmed what became a fact of life for him, as well as the title of a self-published autobiography” I will NEVER Say NO. I first met the Beach’s in 1974 in North Platte, NE as part of an entourage of youth and youth leaders from Battle Creek. We were en route to the 1974 Denver International Youth Convention. I had arranged for our group to overnight in North Platte and sleep in the sanctuary of their attractive A-frame type structure.

They hosted us in a most gracious manner. As an extra benefit, I enjoyed a tour of the huge Union Pacific Bailey Rail Yard complex. Wikipedia describes it as halfway between Denver and Omaha. It covers 2,850 acres and is over 8 miles in length and 2 miles wide. It has 200 separate tracks totaling 315 miles of track with 985 switches, 766 turnouts, and 17 receiving and 16 departure tracks. Union Pacific employs more than 2,600 people in North Platte, who are responsible for the day-to-day operations.
An average of 139 trains and over 14,000 railroad cars pass through Bailey Yard daily. They sort some 3,000 cars daily using the yard’s two humps. The eastbound hump is a 34 feet tall mound and the westbound hump is 20 feet high. These are used to sort four cars a minute into one of the 114 "bowl" tracks, 49 tracks for the westbound trains and 65 for eastbound. The bowl tracks form trains headed across North America, East, West and to the Gulf-coast of the United States, as well as the borders of Canada and Mexico.
Also included are 3 locomotive and servicing centers called eastbound run thru, westbound run thru, and the service track that handles more than 8,500 locomotives per month, a locomotive repair shop that can repair 750 locomotives monthly, and a car repair facility that handles nearly 50 cars daily. The car repair shop replaces 10,000 pairs of wheels each year. The yard features an in-motion wheel defect detector developed by Union Pacific that uses ultrasound to inspect each wheel. It is the only such detector in the world. UP has also developed a method for changing wheels in the field on empty westbound coal trains, which enables three workers to use a hydraulic jack under the couplers between two cars and exchange the trucks. This has reduced the time needed to replace trucks from up to 12 days to 8–12 minutes.
Locomotives can be serviced in a NASCAR like pit stop facility called a Run-Thru staffed by four different crafts—an electrician, machinist, fireman oiler, and a car man. Locomotives are serviced in 45 minutes without detaching them from their trains. The cars go through the car department to get fixed and the locomotives go to the diesel shop. 
Because of the enormous amount of products that pass through Bailey Yard, Union Pacific describes the yard as an “economic barometer of America.”
While there I learned of an upcoming Mission’s work camp the Beach’s planned for building a parsonage at Cotton Tree Bay Church on Cayman Brac about 90 miles south of Jamaica. Working with the Beach’s was Pastor Robert Hazen and an experienced and skilled group from Lansing Pennway. I was interested!  I could easily rendezvous with them at I94 and I69 so I signed up.
I Will NEVER say NO describes L. D. Beach’s search for God as a  young married man in his hometown of Coldwater, MI, doing his best to keep his little family afloat in Marion, IN. Their journey took them from Marion to Wabash, IN in 1943. They launched their ministry ship by working with that small struggling congregation at Wabash, a state project.
Mankato, MN; Port Huron, and Mt Pleasant, MI; Sioux Falls, SD; Fairfield, IL followed, each bringing their achievements, disappointments, and all the extraordinary personal and family experiences that go with spending life in the bubble of a church parsonage. Coldwater and  Sanford, MI followed. Finally, there came that hiatus at Sanford that allowed them to invest a year of volunteer service at Cayman Brac, BWI.
They returned stateside to serve at North Platte, NE where I became personally acquainted with them, after knowing of them for many years. Chapter eighteen outlines the story that crowned their career, in which they took great pride: “To build a Parsonage”. It outlines the story of Faith Villa, the attractive cement block (with stone surface) home that I helped build on the beaches of Cotton Tree Bay Church of God, Cayman Brac.  
For me, that was a priceless experience. I would never forget Oley Brown and others whose names escape me momentarily--some of the greatest of God’s humble servants.  Project Coordinator, L. D. Beach concludes with this simple statement: “The work campers arrived on the scheduled date and the parsonage was completed on schedule. This was a great accomplishment for this congre-gation. Upon the completion of the parsonage, ‘Faith Villa’, for the Cotton Bay tree Church of God, we returned to North Platte, Nebraska and continued our pastoral duties.”
The Beach’s retired and the kids published dad’s book, complete with a cd in the jacket at the end of the book. Meanwhile, Lavern and Aleta graduated their course with honors and went to be with the Lord, having fulfilled their commitments.

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