A Modern Gideon and Mrs. Gideon
By Mrs. David L. Cooper
"The Work Whereunto I Have Called Them" (Acts 13:2)
THE FIRST TWO SUMMERS that Dr. Cooper was away, I took care of the office. Many times my daughter brought my lunch and dinner to me and I would work till eleven o'clock at night.
As the work grew heavier, it became necessary to have a secretary. A young woman, a lover of Israel, volunteered her services and for some months assisted Dr. Cooper in this capacity. Then she joined her husband in field work. Miss Fluker, one of our present secretaries, came to us first as a volunteer helper and then continued as a permanent secretary. She has been with us almost these twenty-five years and has stood with us, and by the work, helping to bear "the burden and the heat of the day." Later it became necessary to have another secretary, and then another, and still another.
"Your adversary the devil ... walketh about, seeking
whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8b)
In the summer of 1931 our older son, David, entered business college. In the spring of 1932 he took over the bookkeeping of the Biblical Research Society, working half time for the Society and continuing in the business college. When he had finished his course, he entered Southwestern University and studied, for one year, accounting and business administration, still keeping the Society's books in the afternoons.
In the early spring of 1934, at one of our monthly prophetic and report meetings, to the great surprise of everyone present, David walked up to the platform and announced to the audience that God had called him to help his father get God's Word out to Israel. All of us were so taken by surprise that, when he uttered the first sentence, a breathless silence swept over the audience. One could have heard a pin drop. Not a person moved or even shuffled a foot. The dead silence was so very overwhelming that it frightened David, and be could not say all that he wanted to. At the next monthly meeting he again surprised us by coming forward. This time he was able to relate what was on his heartthat the Lord had really called him to help us reach all Israel in this generation with God's Word. He had prepared some figures, showing how economically a soul could be reached for the Lord by the literary method. His testimony was very thrilling to all of us. I watched him carefullyat the same time praising the Lord every momentwhen suddenly I saw that his face had become very much flushed. When he sat down, I went to him, and felt his face. He had a temperature which, when taken later, was 101 degrees. Although he had apparently been in good health prior to that time, he was smitten down with fever. A month later, while Dr. Cooper was on his Bible conference tour, I took the four children to Texas to visit my people, thinking the change of climate would help David. But he soon broke down completely.
I started home with him in our car, but could get no farther than Tucson, Arizona, with him. The agony of soul that the children and I suffered that day we spent in Tucson, only God can ever know. After various tests and examinations by a capable specialist there, it was known definitely that he had been smitten with the dread disease, tuberculosis. He was desperate. He could not come home with us, as he did not have the strength for the trip. And he refused to be left there alone. He had no money, and I had very little, but our compassionate Lord was rich, and I could trust Him. The temperature in our car on that August day was 110 degrees, but we drove round and round in the streets all day, not knowing what to do or which way to turn. Finally by six o'clock in the evening we had managed to persuade David to remain there in a small private sanatorium. Just as soon as we had got him into the bed, the lady who owned the institution sent in a tray of delicious tempting food, which was put upon a bed table and the table placed over his body, pinning him to the bed. When he saw the food, he relaxed and smiled. We saw then that at last God had given us the victory.
The manager of the institution motioned me out of the room. When we were outside, she said, "Now, my dear, do get that expression off your face. We have won the battle. Get to your car and get out of town as fast as you can go."
"No, I will not leave him," I replied.
"But you must," she insisted. "If you stay, you will have to go through the same agony tomorrow."
Our younger son, Milford, who was driving the car, said, "Mother, come on! If you stay till morning, you will have two in bed and I will be the other. And I'll be crazy!"
At half-past six in the evening, with very heavy hearts, we left Tucson for home, leaving our precious sick boy behind. (He had reached his twenty-first birthday just a short time before this experience.)
We drove and drove and drove. None of us wanted to eat or sleep on the way, and we did very little of either. As soon as we got home, realizing that this experience had taken its toll, we each got on the scales to see what we had lost in weight. Each of the three children had lost five pounds, and I had lost three, as a result of that heart-breaking and nerve-racking day we spent in Tucson.
Again Satan tried to destroy one whom God had called to do what he could for Israel. But, being a conquered foe, Satan could go no further than God permitted. When God allows Satan to strike us, it is always for our perfecting. God himself, after our son David had suffered a while (in this instance two years), perfected, established, and strengthened him. The Lord kept His promise and worked it all out for David's good, although it was years later when he finally realized that it was a case of all things working together for his good.
That day in August, when I placed David in the private sanatorium and wrote out a check for the first month's stay, I used money with which I intended to pay other bills. I knew Dr. Cooper's small salary could not possibly be stretched to cover his sanatorium expenses. David himself protested and said, "Mother, you know you haven't the money, and you can't possibly pay $50 a month for my expenses."
I replied, "Yes, Son, I know that but I know God, and I still can trust Him. I have lived by faith many years and I can trust Him for this too."
It was blind trust, all right, for we could not possibly see how we could keep him in the sanatorium. But the God of the impossible was our God, and He never fails to answer prayer and to supply the needs of His children. The second month's payment came from Pennsylvania, and month by month money came from far and near, designated for David's sanatorium expense. The very first month that we were unable to pay the bill, at the consent of the doctor who issued a certificate of release for him, as an arrested case, we took him out of the sanatorium and placed in a cabin at Camp Bethel, near Los Angeles. By that time he was an ambulatory patient, no longer bedfast.
It was not until God had again called David, in 1938, that he came back into the work, and again took over the bookkeeping for the Society.
In 1945 he was taken out of the Society into the army. When the war ended, God called him very definitely the third time, laying the burden and responsibility still heavier upon him to help get God's Word to all Israel in this closing generation of this age. When God called him the third time, then it was that he knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that "the callings of God are not repented of" and that the Lord meant for him to spend the rest of his life, regardless of circumstances, helping to get these books distributed to the Jews all over the world, and also to the reading masses of the unsaved Gentiles. When he really surrendered to God to be used of Him the rest of his life in answer to this call, the Society's Board of Directors made him business manager, and later appointed him to the office of vice-president of the Society, to fill the vacancy left by the death of Rev W. R. Hale. We are rejoicing that David is now a very vital part in this God called work. Again let me repeat: "The callings of God are not repented of." If God has ever called you, dear reader, He will hold you to that call, unless He sees fit to call you into another and a greater service for Him. Every person who has named the name of Christ and has been genuinely born again is called to win souls for Him. You will face God concerning this call to soul winning when you come before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the things, or deeds, done in the body, whether good or bad (II Cor. 5:10). Then it will be too late to make up for the wasted years which have been spent in pleasures or in the pursuit of money.
"Study to show thyself approved unto God ..." (II Tim. 2:15)
In 1936 we received letters from different friends stating that they were praying that God would send Dr. Cooper and me to Palestine. Mr. J. P. Welles, who at that time was keeping the Society's books during David Jr.'s stay in the sanatorium, took the matter up with the Board to see what they thought of Dr. Cooper's going to Palestine to do research for his fourth book of the Messianic Series. Strangely enough the Board felt as did other friends, that the time was ripe for the trip, and if the Lord sent money designated for that purpose, he should take the time off and go.
On the day that Dr. Cooper conducted the funeral of Dr. W. E. Blackstone (well known in Christian circles as one of the greatest friends of Israel, and author of Jesus Is Coming), a missionary from Palestine, who was at the time retired after thirty or more years of service, said to Dr. Cooper, "I was on my deathbed with cancer of the stomach, and I know that God raised me up for the purpose of praying you into Palestine." She also stated, "I want to make the first gift towards your going. Half of it is for you and half for Mrs. Cooper."
We felt indeed that this tithe was holy money, coming from such a precious missionary. Truly God was in it and did hear and answer her prayers. It was not long until money was being sent in from different sources designated for Dr. Cooper's trip to Palestine. When the Board voted that he should go, he frankly stated that he would not go without me; because, he said, he could not bury himself alive in the libraries of Europe and Palestine to do research work if he had to be concerned all the time about me. The Board then immediately voted that I should go with him. I took the matter before our Tuesday prayer group and told them that I could not go simply because the Board had voted that I should go or because Dr. Cooper wanted me to, but that I must know whether it was the Lord's will. My health was far too poor to think of crossing the ocean unless I had definite leading from the Lord. All of the money that had come for the trip to that time, with the exception of the one gift mentioned above, had been designated for Dr. Cooper's passage. We prayed, and asked the Lord, if He was leading and desired me to go, that He would send in the money designated for my trip also; for I knew that He was just as able to send it in for me as He was for Dr. Cooper. During the next few months the money that came in for the Palestine trip was designated for both of us. When sufficient money for my passage was received, then I knew that the Lord intended for me to go.
Again when the prayer group met, we told the Lord that, if I was to go, I would need clothes; but that I had neither time nor desire to bother with them, and we asked that He please send me what He wanted me to wear. Those of us who prayed about this necessity agreed that we would not say anything to anyone about my need for clothes, but would speak to the Lord only, and would let this answer be a further test as to whether or not I should go. Soon after we had made this petition, I received a box from a lovely lady in Dallas, Texas, who had traveled around the world, with almost everything in it that I needed to take with me. Then clothes came from other sources. A dear friend helped me alter some of the dresses. When I saw that the Lord had provided the clothes, I said "Well, Lord, I'm going to put this last test to you so that I may know beyond all doubt that you are the one who is sending me to Palestine." I said, "Lord, if you want me to go, let the doctor say that it is the proper thing for me to do, and if it is not Your will, let the doctor say, 'No, you should not attempt such a strenuous trip.'" Really, from the human standpoint, one would have expected the doctor to say "No."
But not so. When I consulted him, he said, "Why, certainly, go with your husband. I think it is the very thing to do. It will be far better for you to go with him than for you to have all that responsibility in the office." He instructed that I adhere strictly to the diet he had prescribed, which thing I did. I was convinced then, beyond all doubt, that this trip was of the Lord.
Then I packed the things which God had so graciously provided for me. Most of the clothes I received were secondhand, but they were lovely and just what I needed. The Lord, however, did enable me to get a new coat; but I was just as happy to wear secondhand clothes as new ones, because I realized that they were what our blessed Lord had so graciously provided for the journey.
We went on the trip, trusting in God every step of the way, happy in the knowledge that He was guiding and that He would take care of the office and of our two young daughters who were then students in Bob Jones College, Cleveland, Tennessee.