A LOOK BACK IN CLC HISTORY
It’s worth reminding ourselves that God works in marvelous ways—ways that are mysterious at the time, but later prove to have been in our best interests. Let me illustrate.
Back in 1965 the Lord put the CLC through its first austerity program because contributions from our CLC friends fell short of synodical needs. So the salaries of missionaries and ILC professors were cut. After all, you can’t spend money you don’t have.
So the professors at ILC were given permission to seek other means of income for the summer. Some of us younger men went out to find jobs in Eau Claire; any job would do; beggars can’t be choosers. After days of interviews, I discovered that the only business willing to hire me for three months was Hehl-Grohn Construction Company, a non-union family enterprise content to graze on the fringes of prosperity. The wages were nothing to brag about, but that’s how the Lord would put bread and butter on our table. We would survive under the care of our loving Father in heaven.
However, a much larger and more wonderful “payoff” came to our doorstep during the following school year, when synod aspired to build four professor homes on our spacious campus—rather than pay out rent monies for the four teachers who were renting. (Three professors had already built homes nearby, and C. M. Gullerud was housed in Birch Hall).
Stymied because of low cash, the Board of Trustees was about to abandon ambitious plans for doing any construction. However, late one afternoon I happened to meet Bert Naumann, chairman of the Trustees, coming out of a fiscal meeting. He seemed dejected that there was “no way” synod could get financing and afford the building of any professor homes.
“How far off were the bids?” I asked.
“We didn’t get bids,” Bert answered, “No point to it.”
That set me back on my heels, but I suggested that there just might be a way—if he could provide me with the “specs,” and I could take them to local Eau Claire builders for competitive bids.
So Bert perked up, gave me copies of the specs, and I went around to various builders and lumber yards in Eau Claire. At each office I handed out the list of the specs for four ranch homes, each complete with septic system, furnace, hardwood flooring, three bedrooms, one-car attached garage, Anderson windows, et cetera, with a top projected cost of $60,000 for the total of four new homes.
How far would $60,000 go nowadays?!
Most contractors listened, but only at Hehl-Grohn was I taken seriously, and with them we worked out agreeable floor plans, with detailed specs to match the target price of the Trustees.
How about that! The Lord was moving us past a stalemate; He works in mysterious ways!
So in 1966 my friends at Hehl-Grohn platted, graded, excavated, and constructed four homes, for the families of Adelgunde Schaller, P. R. Koch, E. Schaller, and R. Roehl. The homes were built in a row along the ridge overlooking the valley of Lowes Creek.
Bert was pleased, and so were we, for the Lord had proved that He has His own ways of turning adversity into blessing.
Permit a few more details.
During those fall months when construction had not yet begun, I was anxious to see how things were going on site for the four houses. So I sometimes wandered over there just to see if anything was happening. After a few weeks the lots got staked out—and I noticed that Gunde Schaller’s home was situated very close to ours—entirely out of proportion to the spacing between the other homes.
So I asked Herb Mueller (my former office manager) to explain. He listened and then approved of my suggestion to move the stakes for Gunde’s house twenty feet farther to the east. In fact, he surprised me by saying that I could go ahead and move the stakes before the bulldozer arrived!
So I took my tape-measure and hatchet, went out there and moved the stakes to create a better balance of space for both our yards. It was a good decision.
That’s the way things went back in the good old days; when despite (or because of) the austerity program, our limitations became God’s opportunities. Thank You, dear Lord Jesus!
Paul Koch is retired from the pastoral and teaching ministry. He was a long-time faculty member at Immanuel Lutheran College.