Moving Heaven and Earth

by Bernard R. DeRemer

R. G. LeTourneau (1888-1969) did not have a promising beginning. Throughout his school days in Vermont, "he was plaguedby a chronically short attention span" (today it might be called attention deficit disorder). But one outstanding characteristic was his burning desire to pull apart boyhood toys to see how they worked. It was prophetic for the future. Formal education ended at the 8th grade when he left the classroom for an iron foundry. In spite of his early lack of promise, Robert Gilmour LeTourneau "as inventor and businessman, builder and engineer, lay missionary and Christian benefactormust be counted high on the list of those who literally shaped North America through the mid 1900s." LeTourneau grew up in a Christian home with dedicated, godly parents. Later he said, "I knew the right way but I had forgotten about it." Following a series of revival meetings in 1905, he came to know the Lord. From then on Christian commitment grew. He moved to San Francisco, where he was awakened in the midst of the famous 1906 earthquake and escaped. Then he went to Stockton, California, "where he began honing his skills as a mechanic and [later] built a successful automobile dealership." Trials and hardships lay ahead. He survived: A stock car crash Flash fire in his repair shop Spanish flu, which killed millions world-wide Bankruptcy, caused by an inept co-worker LeTourneau had married Evelyn Peterson when she was only 16; that led to a seven-year alienation with his father-in-law Their first child died at only four months of age But these hardships, instead of driving him from the Lord, forged his spiritual priorities and fostered submission to God. He confessed that he had been seeking first his own way of life. Now he began to apply Matthew 6:33 and involved himself with the evangelistic efforts of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church. He was mightily challenged to make "himself available to God as His servant first and a businessman second." This was a major turning point. From then on success came rapidly. He designed and built a more efficient earth scraper; massive front-end loaders and bulldozers followed. He is credited with "inventing or perfecting nearly every piece of heavy earth-moving equipment in use today." He supplied 70 percent of such machinery to the Allies during World War II, thus contributing mightily to the eventual victory. He founded LeTourneau College (now University) in Longview, Texas, "to integrate Christian education into the lives of young people, to help hundreds of young believersseek to conduct their business and family lives according to the clear principles of God's Word." He also established the LeTourneau Foundation to help fund Christian ministries. Once he declared: "I think the secret of a real out-and-out Christian life is to fall in love with the Lord. Let's just ask God to do a new thing in our lives and help us come to know Him and love Him and worship Him." By the end of his life, he "was giving on an inverted 10% basis-10% of the profits for himself and 90% for the Lord's work." From his humble, unpromising start, R. G. LeTourneau went on to achieve great things for the Lord and for eternity. "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lordand their works do follow them" (Rev. 14:13).
2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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