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Cover 41


January 2012

Dare to Disciple


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Free Will Baptist

God's White Envelopes

“My God Is Able”—an amazing story of God’s provision in hard times.


God’s White Envelopes

By Wayne Spruill


He Giveth and Giveth and Giveth

When I enrolled at Free Will Baptist Bible College in 1968, I had an agreement with my dad that I would work during the school year and summer to earn the down payment for my school bill, and he would make the monthly payments. I was responsible for all incidentals—clothing, books, Krystal™ burgers, or corsages for Brenda. God provided me good jobs including Family Booterie, Free Will Baptist Foreign Missions, and Randall Bookstore.

The first two years I rode the bus downtown to work evening and Saturday shifts at the Booterie. This often spoiled date time, but it was necessary and I thank the Lord for supplying the job opportunity. Like many of my friends, I worked hard to earn what I could. Looking back, I take my hat off to those married guys who worked full-time, took care of family, and went to class.

During my three years in the dorm, I formed a lifelong friendship with a brother who later was the best man at my wedding. He worked some and traveled with the college quartet, but frequently had envelopes slid under his door containing $20 (two days’ wages) or more. I often wondered “Why not me, Lord?” I admit a little spark of jealousy.


God's White Envelopes

But God gave me steady jobs, and I do not recall a really tight time financially. He provided income for many years, and though we were never rich and at times pinched a little, there was always food on the table and gas in the car.


Hawaiian Experiment

We relocated to Hawaii in 1985 to open a Christian bookstore. I’m convinced the real reason the Lord sent us there was to work in the local Free Will Baptist church that was struggling at the time. Naturally, Satan tried his best to derail our plans. For instance, the first check our “silent partner” sent bounced. I’m not sure the business end of the store ever improved from there, though the Lord blessed and we saw lives changed. Shortly after we opened the store, a longtime family friend conducted a revival at the church. He had a great tenor voice, and he dedicated a song to Brenda and me, because he had been in the bookstore business and knew the challenges we would face.

The song was “He Giveth More Grace,” and I do not remember having heard it before, but it was then I realized that God would supply all my needs. That was when the envelopes started to slide under my door. One time a church sent us $600 with a note, “Put this on our account; we have extra and thought you might need some cash.”

Another time (1994), Brenda had been seriously injured in a car accident and could not teach, and then had to teach two months from a wheelchair. One morning when I took the children to school, the principal met me with an envelope of cash. “We understand that Brenda would rest better if you folks had a new mattress.” Yes, there was enough to buy a new mattress. He Giveth.


Virginia Mission Outreach

In 2000, we moved to Virginia and worked with Union Mission Ministries. Satan tried his best to destroy our faith. Among other things, the transmission in our van went out. I was in a Free Will Baptist pastor’s office talking with him about Rescue Mission needs. As I prepared to leave, he reached into his wallet and gave me a hundred-dollar bill to put toward transmission repair.

But God did not stop there. On my way back to the office, I met with my pastor who gave me a check from the church for $700, the amount I needed to cover parts. The mechanic had agreed to let me pay for the labor over a few months. During the next few years, the pastor continued to slip me envelopes from (as he called it) the Spruill “Mission Account.” These always seemed to come when there was a need. And He Giveth.

While in Virginia, my muscular dystrophy surged, and I had to start using a wheelchair. It “just so happened” that a power wheelchair had been donated to the mission, so guess who got to use it! He Giveth. As time passed, we found it more difficult for me to handle the responsibilities of running three thrift stores, and it was necessary for me to go on full disability.

It was also growing more difficult for Brenda to serve as administrator of an assisted living facility and provide the caregiver needs I now required. In 2002, with the Lord providing the means, we bought a van with a hoist in the back that could lift my empty chair and put it in the van. And He Giveth.


Return to FWBBC

In August 2004 the Lord opened the door for us to return to FWBBC. Brenda had previously worked as secretary to the dean, Dr. Charles Thigpen, in the mid-70s and we both graduated in 1972. Although we felt at home because we had so many friends on faculty and staff, this was something new. The old campus buildings were not wheelchair-accessible, but we immediately saw ramps put in place and an apartment remodeled with my needs receiving top consideration. And He Giveth.

During the first two years on staff at FWBBC, as I visited the MDA Clinic at Vanderbilt Hospital, the doctors saw my need for better wheels. Before long, via my disability, medical insurance, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association, I had a new wheelchair with the capability of rising up, tilting back, and (to the joy of students and grandchildren) could even do wheelies. And He Giveth.

A minor problem—the new wheelchair weighed 350 pounds. One evening as Brenda put the chair in the van, the hoist cable broke, dropping the wheelchair to the pavement. We really needed a ramp van. If you know anything about this type van, they cost about $20,000 more than the same model without the ramp. The Lord led us to a dealership that specializes in such vans, and they had a one-year-old van with a do-able price tag. We worked a deal, though the monthly payment was $100 more than what I had been paying. For the next couple of years, a designated gift of $100 came each month from an anonymous giver via our church. Yes, He Giveth Again.

Though the ramp van makes travel easier, overnight stays are expensive when you cannot room with family or friends because their houses are not wheelchair-accessible. During the years that Brenda’s dad (Luther Sanders) had physical problems, it was amazing how the Lord provided “envelopes” to pay for hotel costs when we visited Dad. When the Lord called him home, we were again blessed when we received a “couple” of envelopes. We were excited as the Lord provided the means for our son to fly to Texas via an envelope that someone left on his back door. He Giveth and Giveth.


Miracle on West End

On March 17, 2011, as Brenda and I turned into the FWBBC driveway at 3606 West End Avenue, our van was rear-ended. I was tossed around like a rag doll; the van was totaled, and my new wheelchair (December 2010) received major damage. Brenda and I were miraculously only shook up and sore. The other driver’s insurance paid for repairs to the chair and gave us current “value” of my van.

Current value did not give me a new vehicle, so I had to come up with a good down payment. Yes, you know it by now. The day of the accident after we got back home from the ER, a longtime friend handed me $200 cash and said, “This is for McDonald’s and those things that will pop up.” As the weeks passed and negotiations with the insurance company and dealer continued, we were set to make the purchase. That’s when He did it again. My pastor came by, handed me a plain white envelope, and said that I could not ask any questions. I didn’t!

A missionary from India shared the following story about this song. It was in the 1940s when the song was newly released. Some caring individual from the States sent her the record through the mail. They had no idea how discouraged the missionary was, or how exhausted her resources were. She excitedly loaded her Victrola record player and began playing this new inspirational song. When it got to the chorus, "He giveth and giveth and giveth," the needle stuck. So over and over she heard the phrase “He giveth and giveth and giveth and giveth and giveth…,” until it brought absolute joy from the deep resources of her heart. She realized that God wanted her to experience His unlimited and overflowing provisions for her needs. I cannot help but claim the following verse as my favorite.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!

—Annie Johnson Flint


About the Writer: Wayne Spruill, AKA, “The Rolling Deacon,” is director of institutional research at Free Will Baptist Bible College. His wife Brenda is administrative assistant in the college’s Business Office.

©2012 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists