A Modern Gideon and Mrs. Gideon
By Mrs. David L. Cooper
"And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good,
even to them that are called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28)
I HAVE TOLD YOU how very crowded we were in our old headquarters. But we were happy and willing to work on in the crowded lower flat of our home because there was no rent for the Society to pay and the overhead expense was at a minimum. We were not willing to use any money in any way other than to produce, publish, and distribute the scholarly gospel books of the Messianic Series (one of which has been published in eight languages, others in three and four languages and given free all over the world). God allowed circumstances to arise at that time which caused the city's Zoning Commission to command us to move our headquarters to a business zone at once. "Close down or move in fifteen days" was the order that we received. This sudden crisis seemed like a terrible calamity to us and sent us all to our knees. We realized, however, after many weeks of frantic daily searching for a new place and watching circumstances, that it was God's appointed time for us to move and that the zoning ouster was not, after all, a calamity, as it at first appeared. As the months have come and gone since that first order was given, we have seen that the new headquarters were an absolute necessity, for the work has expanded to a far greater degree than we had anticipated."… Your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things" (Luke 12:30)
For months we combed this end of the city for something to rent or buy. It was the time of the peak of inflation. We hunted and prayed, but we could find nothing suitable at a price we could pay. When the Zoning Commissioner suggested that we buy a lot and build, we started to search for a suitable location. The prices of the lots that we found in business zones ranged from $10,000 to $50,000. Such prices were prohibitive for us. One day as we were coming home, utterly disheartened, I said to Dr. Cooper, "Stop here, and let us look at this lot." It was on the corner of Verdugo Road and Filion Street and was indeed a choice location. We looked it over carefully and finally agreed that we had found the ideal lot at last.
Next morning, before time to begin work, Dr. Cooper took the office staff over to see the lot and said, "Well, this is where the Society's new headquarters will be." His statement was certainly a pronouncement by faith, for we had not even begun to investigate the possibility of buying the property! The staff all agreed that we had found the very spot. Our next step was to look up the owner at the Hall of Records. To our dismay we found that the property consisted of two lots, owned by two women who lived in different sections of the city.
This fact complicated matters. When we called to inquire of them if they would sell, the answer was "Not for sale" from both of them. One of the owners was very positive in stating that she herself was going to build on her lot. Again we resumed our search, but frequently we returned home by this corner, feeling more strongly than ever that it was the spot on which God would have us build.
Again we called the owners, but received the same reply, "Not for sale." We almost gave up hope as our ninety-day extension limit neared its end. But we called another special day of prayer. We still felt, somehow, that the lot at Verdugo and Filion was the one God wanted up to have. So we prayed, "Lord, if it is Your directive will, cause the owners to be willing to sell; if not, block our buying this lot completely, and lead us to the one of Your choice."
Days passed. Then out of a clear blue sky, both women said that, if we still wanted the lots, they were willing to sell if we would buy both. The total price quoted was $6,250, very reasonable for such a corner having 130 feet depth and 106 feet of frontage on Verdugo Road, a very busy thoroughfare. What a time of praise and thanksgiving followed the good news! We knew that God had answered prayer and that we were not wrong in feeling that this particular corner was His choice for us.
Further evidence that it was God's choice lay in the fact that He had already provided just enough in our building fund to pay the cash price asked. Truly, when our Father leads, He goes ahead and prepares the way! The $6,250 was paid, and the lots were deeded to the Biblical Research Society, a non profit California Corporation.
In the days following the purchase of the lot for the building, the prayers that were offered to God largely beseeched Him to send in the funds to build. We also prayed constantly that the city would be lenient with us and not push us in regard to our moving, for, of course, if they had insisted, we would have had to close down, since we had no place to go until the Society's new headquarters were erected. The Lord answered that prayer in a very unexpected way, for, when Dr. Cooper, at the expiration of the time limit, again reported to the Planning Commission, they told him that they had nothing more to do with the zoning ordinance. It had been taken out of their hands and put into the hands of the Building and Safety Council.
The Society's treasurer, Mr. Ray A. Myers, senior partner of Myers Brothers, Contractors, was a member of that Building and Safety Committee. He also had the contract for building the Society's headquarters. Mr. Myers said, "Well, now, Dr. Cooper, you can rest easy. When the Lord sends in the money, I will erect the building." How wonderfully God had worked. How marvelously He had answered prayer!
Now there was no more fear of the city pushing us out, no more frantic searching for property; now only patient waiting until God was pleased to send in the amount needed to start the erection of the new large building. The weeks came and went; yes, the months did the same. Our treasurer kept an eagle eye on the mounting building fund. One day he told our Board of Directors that he was ready to start building. That was a joyous moment for us, as the months of waiting had become one year, then two.
Let me tell you how God answered prayer for Dr. Cooper and me in helping us find a lot for our home just half a block from the office site. We had to move too, as I do not drive and would have had real difficulty in getting to the office in Dr. Cooper's absence from home. The transportation system is poor, and there are no bus connections from Berenice Street to Verdugo Road. I am needed in the office to help superintend the work and, when it became apparent that we would have to move close to the new headquarters in order not to eliminate me from the work, we began to pray to God to help us find a house or a lot to buy.
Although I do not take a salary, I have, from the inception of the work, stood shoulder to shoulder with Dr. Cooper; and I have labored day by day in the work, both in the office and in the prayer-room. David, Jr., and I look after the office work when Dr. Cooper is away, superintending the activities. I also have complete charge of the foreign work.
As soon as the lots for the new building were purchased and we knew definitely that the Society would be moved to Verdugo and Filion, Dr. Cooper and I took every available opportunity to look for a house or lot where we could build a home. Many times we lookedwithout success. We contacted all the real estate offices in that section, and we went to the City Hall and looked up the owners of all vacant lots in the community. We contacted these various owners, only to be told the lots were not for sale, that the owners proposed to build on them.
The nearest vacant lot to the corner where the Society had bought was just down the alley a few doors back of the Society's property, and fronting on the next street. When we contacted the owner and his wife, they were very positive they intended to build a home on it for themselves. Our younger daughter was then working in a real estate office. She said to me, after her father had left for his conference engagements, "Mother, I know just how to find something. I'll take you to hunt a house or a lot." We started out. First we went to all the real estate offices in the section and were told again that they had nothing; then we started our search up one street and down the other until we had completely combed the entire section. But we had no better success than her father and I had had. She said, "Well, Mother, you just can't move over there, for there is nothing to be had."
When I got home, tired and exhausted, I took the problem again to the Lord in prayer. I said, "Lord, I have exhausted every avenue and every means I know of to find something. Lord, you will have to say, 'She hath done what she could.' I can do more. Now I have finished; I leave it in Thy hands. We have lived in this home and been perfectly happy for twenty-four years, and I shall stay here the rest of my life unless You give us a place. If You want us to move, You will have to find us a place." I left it in His dear hands. Is anything too hard for Him?
In a few days' time the telephone rang, and a man asked, "Mrs. Cooper, do you still want our lot on Somers Avenue?" I said, "Yes, we do."
He said, "We have decided to let you have it if you will give us double what we paid for it three years ago."
I said, "Well, I will have to telegraph my husband and wait for an answer." I sent him a message, telling him that the lot which we had wanted so very much on Somers Avenue was for sale and told him the price required. He sent a telegram advising me to buy it. This was the vacant lot nearest the Society's property.
How precious the Lord is! How He can undertake when we reach our extremity, cease striving, and leave everything to Him! Most likely the natural means the Lord used to cause the owners to desire to sell the lot at this time was a $200 assessment that the city had just levied against it to pay for paving the alley. This alley was paved soon after we bought the lot. (The lots at Verdugo and Filion were assessed at $300, which probably caused those two ladies to be willing to sell their lots.)
The Lord had timed everything just right. A short time before, I had received some money from my mother's estate. A friend loaned me the balance needed so that I could pay cash for the lot, as the owners requested. I daily thank the Lord that we are now only a stone's throw from the offices of the Society, making it very convenient for us. After having the work in the lower flat of our home for twenty years, it had become so much a part of our lives that we could not conceive of being situated in a home that was very far from it. Once again God had worked out a real problem for us and had shown afresh that He truly works for those who love Him. Again He had answered prayerprayer that was made according to His will and for something that was desired in order that we might carry on our labors for Him more effectively. Little wonder that we have been exceedingly happy and filled with joy in our new five-room home. God doeth all things well.