- In All Things, Praise The Lord –
Part of our Testimony
By Fred & Alice Kubicek
Co-pastors of Unlimited Glory Ministries
On Sunday May 16, 1999 at about 4:00 PM, while Alice & I and Evan & Terah were visiting my mother 'Nana' on the occasion of her 81st birthday, at Holmstad retirement community in Batavia, IL, I received a phone call from our daughter-in-law Ellen who lives in St. Anne, MO. It has been almost two years since I received that call, and as I remember the first words out of Ellen’s mouth were, “We’ve been trying to get a hold of you, you need to get home, your house is on fire!” As I recall, my first thoughts were, “The house is not insured.” Ellen then went on to explain that she had received a call from Tony, who at that time was an elder in our fellowship, and had gone to high school with our older son Jeremy and Ellen. Tony knew we were up in the Chicago area, some 200 miles north of our home in Kansas, but he didn’t know exactly where, so he had called Jeremy and Ellen, hoping they would know how to get hold of us.
Apparently Tony, who lives a block south of us, had stopped by our house around 3:00 PM (for what reason I do not recall) and had both smelled smoke and saw it coming from around the edges of our closed living room windows. As we now know, the fire had been burning for several hours prior to that time, but do to the fact that we had completely closed up the house before we left for Batavia at 8:00 in the morning, no one had noticed it prior to Tony’s visit. Our neighbors both north and south of our house were away that particular day. As our house sits (or should I say, use to sit) on about 2 ½ acres of ground, our neighbor to the east is some distance away, and besides, their garage blocks her view of our house. And since we live right on the edge of town, there was a farm field across the street to the west. Therefore, had Tony not stopped by when he did, it is quite possible that no one would have noticed it for yet another several hours.
Tony immediately went back home and called the Kansas volunteer fire department, and then called Jeremy and Ellen. After speaking to Ellen, I hung up the phone and broke the news to Alice and my mother, both of whom were standing nearby as I spoke to Ellen. Needless to say, they could tell that something serious had happened by my questions to Ellen over the phone. Within a half hour of speaking to Ellen, I was able to call Tony directly. He advised me that it looked pretty serious, and that he would try and get whatever he could out of the house as soon as the firemen would let him in. I told him where our most important papers, photographs, and computer records were kept, and then I went to look for Evan and Terah who had earlier taken a short walk around Holmstad. Before continuing with my account of what happened next, allow me to digress for a few minutes. In order to put the destruction of our house into context, I believe that it is important for you to know a little about what Alice and I, and our family had been through in the recent past.
While Alice and I had each been raised in Christian homes (Missouri Synod Lutheran), and had attended Lutheran grade schools and the Lutheran High School where we met, after we were married in August of 1968 we slowly began to drift away from God. In fact, by then I felt that church was really rather boring. The truth of the matter was that I had no real interest in spending eternity singing the same hymns that I had been singing in church for the past 14 or so years.
Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. During these formative years, I was clearly taught both the foundational truths of basic Bible stories, and the fact that Jesus Christ was and is God. I was clearly taught that I was a sinner, and that were it not for His sacrifice on the cross I would spend an eternity in hell. But then I was also either taught that God no longer acted today as He did during the days of the Apostles, or the topic was never brought up. It was my understanding that in order to overcome the trials and temptations that I was experiencing, I had to ‘suck it up’ or ‘take a cold shower’ or simply read about similar trials and temptations in the Bible. In short, I was not taught that the living Lord of the Universe was so interested in every aspect of my life that through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit He would live within me. That if I would but ask, He would cause the written word to become the Living Word – a true lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. I did not know that I could enter into His presence with hands raised, or that I could enter His courts with joy- ous, voluminous, spontaneous, praising, clapping, shouting and dancing. These things, like the Prodigal Son of New Testament times, I was to learn after I had spent a rather long season running after the things of this world.
During the period from August 1968 to July 1980 my slow walk away from the Lord became an all out race away from God. After my graduation from Law school in 1971 I opened up my own office in Charleston, IL. From 1971 to July 1980 I did all the things a young lawyer needed to do in order to become successful. I took part in numerous civic activities. By 1976 I had served as Legal Counsel for the Charleston Chapter of the Jay- cees, was Treasurer of the local Kiwanis Club, Chairman of the Tourism Committee for the Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Eastern Coles United Fund, Chairmen of the Board of the Charleston Community Day Care Center, a two times recipient of the Jaycees ‘Outstanding Young Men of America’ award, and the Charleston, IL ‘Distinguished Service Award.’ By 1980 however, I had also become a prolific liar, philanderer, self-centered, greedy and quite profane.
By 1975, along with her grandparents and great aunt, both of Alice’s parents had died. As a result, she had received an inheritance of about One Hundred and Seventy - Fifty Thousand dollars. After putting One Hundred Thousand in a CD, spending over Ten Thousand one weekend in New Orleans, buying a 14’ x 70’ mobile home and putting it on 20 acres of land in the country we had bought until we could build a much bigger home, I took the remaining Ten Thousand dollars and began investing in the stock market. I then used the profits to buy marginal farm ground next to us.
Initially I had done quite well. Over the next few years our gross assets increased to about $900,000. However, along with this increase came close to a half million in land debt. This was at a time when land prices, along with interest rates had risen significantly. It was my intention to turn this relatively unproductive land into a prosperous Christmas Tree farm. However, this process takes about 8 years. In order to finance the debt until harvesting could begin, a local bank was willing to loan me the interest each year, and then add that amount to the principle.
Two separate things were happening at the same time. The economy was beginning to turn sour, and more importantly, my life style was beginning to take its toll on me personally, and in my relations with those closest to me. In July of 1980 the Lord used a rather long series of events - including the prayers and conversations of dear brothers and sisters in the Lord like Mike & Janie, Tim & Pat and Paul & Ellen - to bring back to my memory the account of the separation of the sheep from the goats as found in Matt. 25:31-46. At that moment the Holy Spirit made it very plain to me that I had become a very large goat.
For the next week or so I spent virtually every waking moment reading several books our friends had given us, and I began to examine the Bible in a new way. A funny thing had happened since 1968. The Bible was no longer dry or dull; rather, it had become full of life and meaning. I still remember driving home from my office that July afternoon and crying out to God that I was sorry for my sins and that I wanted Jesus to live in my heart from that point on. I remember walking into our house (bounding was probably more like it), picking up my 4 year-old son Jeremy, and then calling to Alice who was in the kitchen, “I know that I believe in Jesus, He really is real.”
Within three weeks Alice had also rededicated her life to Christ, and we were both baptized in Tim & Pat’s swimming pool. About a month later we had also each received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (at a Vickie Jameson meeting in Robinson, IL). In October of that same year the Lord gave me a dream which included the name for, and has been partially fulfilled with our work in Unlimited Glory Ministries. I was to then spend the next several years devouring God’s word with more intensity than I had ever spent studying law while in law school.
By June of 1982 we were to suffer the full impact of both the economic downturn, and my previous unbiblical business practices. Land prices had fallen, and interest rates had sky rocketed even higher. As such, we were not able to sell the land I had purchased in order to get out from under the ever-increasing debt load. To make matters worse, the bank we had been dealing with up until that time had gone under, and we could not find anyone else to assume our farm loans. Christmas tree farming was not what most area bankers consi- dered a safe investment, and as I had not known about, much less followed Scriptural concepts of money management between 1975 and 1980, I did not have a good financial reputation. I was considered to be too much of a risk taker, and not a good money manager. To make a long story short, as of early June 1982 we had lost all our farm ground, and were now several hundred thousand dollars in debt.
In January 1983, after much prayer, I formally resigned from the bar association in order to enter into full time Bible study and teaching. To make matters even more complicated, the Lord had shown us that we were not to ask for money, nor were we to offer for sale any of the studies which I had been completing up to that time. We were to freely give to anyone who asked, and depend upon the Lord to provide for our needs. For the next 7 years, Alice and I, and our sons went through what we describe as our ‘wilderness journey.’
During this time we were to experience 3 extended periods when we did not have utilities, running water, telephone or transportation. During this entire time the Lord provided for us in some very interesting ways. Allow me to share one example. The winter of 1982 had been quite severe, and we had a rather large utility bill that had come due. Without going into all the details here, I had closed my office 6 months prior to resigning from the bar. However, I was still owed a fee from a client that had it been paid on time, I would have been able to pay the utility bill in full. As it turned out, the client did not pay my fee until about 5 days after she had said she would. When I brought the money to the utility com- pany they informed me that they had decided that in order to have my utilities turned back on I would have to put down a $1,500 deposit in addition to paying my back bill.
Given that I was no longer actively practicing law, this added deposit requirement was insurmountable. Therefore, we were to spend that summer without power. That meant no running water (the submersible pump needed electricity), no cooking on our electric range, and no fans. Believe me when I tell you that a mobile home in the country, when both the temperature and humidity are hovering near 100, is no picnic. We ended up cooking on a Coleman stove, collected rain water when possible, kept food that required refrigeration in an ice chest and I walked 3 miles into town to get ice and fuel for the stove when needed. Keep in mind that all I had to do to solve this problem was to declare bankruptcy, move somewhere else and start over again. But the Lord had made it clear to both Alice and I on numerous occasions that as of that time, we were not to do anything but stand and trust in Him.
Needless to say, there were numerous times when we both questioned that we had heard from the Lord correctly. For the most part, every time we ran out of food, or water, or ice someone would show up in our driveway and tell us that the Lord had placed us on their hearts and that they should come out to where we lived and see if we needed anything. On other occasions I would go to the mailbox and find $25 or $30 dollars that had been anomalously sent to us. For a long time there was a dear sister in the Lord in Charleston who regularly provided $25 to us each Friday. There we numerous times when that $25 was all we had for that particular week. Yet the Lord continued to minister to us and opened up His word to us in marvelous ways. For the most part during this time He gave my family peace and joy.
Never-the-less, at various times though out this period I would walk along the country road at night and cry out to God and ask Him why this was happening. How could this be pros- perity? How could this be pleasing to Him? Around the end of August that summer I remember sitting on the couch in our living room and quietly praying. Without hearing an audible voice, I felt the Lord begin to minister to me. He told me that during these past 3 months He had simply been giving me a choice. I remember asking Him what He had meant. At that point God reminded me of the dream He had given me back in October of 1980 regarding our ministry. He also reminded me of the numerous confirmations He had given us concerning that whole area.
Part of what He had shown me was that I would be spending extended periods of time teaching and sharing with young people during the summer months in outdoor settings. While these appeared to be in some camp like setting, they were outdoors and it was summer. The Lord then said that He simply wanted to give me a choice. I asked Him what He meant by that, and He asked me if I liked air-conditioning. He already new the answer to that – I love air conditioning. He then said that He wanted me to see what it would be like sharing his Word with young people during the summer in 90+ temperatures with high humidity. He then asked me if I still wanted to do that, or if I wanted an air-conditioned office. I began to cry as I told the Lord that I wanted to do that which He had called me to do, which included ministering to young people in the summer if that was truly what he wanted me to do. The next day we received a check in the mail from an unexpected source. The amount was $1,500! That was enough to get our utilities turned back on! (While I did not know it at the time, we were to spend 2 more summers like that one, but each time the Lord had a purpose. Later He showed me that like David, I would be sent into the wilderness 3 times.)
Notice that I did not use the word ‘miraculous’ to describe the ways the Lord provided for us, because He did not make food appear from out of thin air, or transport us from one place to another as He did the Apostle Phillip in Acts 8:39. However, on numerous occasions, after Alice had fixed literally the last bit of food in the house, someone would show up in our driveway before the next meal and advise us that the Lord had placed it upon their heart to bring us the very thing which we were in desperate need of on that particular occasion! While we had gone from an income of $40,000 per year to sometimes $25.00 per week, the Lord sustained us during this entire time.
In October of 1984 (about 1/3 rd of the way through our wilderness journey) we ended up moving from where we had lived in the country since 1976, to our house in Kansas – the one that is the subject of this account. It was during our wilderness journey we learned many of the truths I have written about and that are posted on our web site. Also remember that between July 1980 and June 1982 I had become familiar with, and was then - and still am - a firm believer in the fact that the Lord wants His children to have faith, and to prosper. I cannot tell you how many times during our 7- year wilderness journey I cried out to God that I did not understand what was happening. I had rebuked satan; I was standing in faith, I had asked God to show me if there was anything that I was doing that was holding back His blessings.
On one occasion, while still living in the country, I clearly remember walking along the road in front of our house about midnight, and then laying prostrate on the gravel. I cried out to God in words which said in effect, “If I keep on going as we are currently going, I will not have the money I need to send my sons to college.” Other brothers and sisters in the Lord told us that there must be unrepentant sin in our lives - otherwise the Lord would have blessed us by now. Others said that since I was not ‘working’ I had no right to call out to God. They simply did not understand that I was ‘working’ for God and that He wasn’t limited to a twice a month pay scale. I was attempting to do as I believed the Lord had shown me to do. Instead of selling the product of my work, I was to give it away.
God showed me that the minute I put a price tag on something, that would be the price which would be paid. The poor man may not have enough to buy it, and the rich man would not pay more for it then was marked. But if there was no price, the poor man could ‘afford it’ and the rich man would be more open to the leading of the Holy Spirit to give the amount that the Holy Spirit wanted him to pay, and that could very well be much more than the list price of the book. In a very real since, like the Israelites who had left Egypt, we were totally dependent upon God’s daily provision for everything we needed.
For the first four and one half years we were in Kansas this same process continued. Finally, in 1989 the FDIC began to push and we had no choice but to declare bankruptcy. Believe me, this was one of the most crushing experiences I could have gone through. For 7 years I had been standing on what I believed the Lord had shown me. I had hoped that He would somehow provide a means by which we could pay off this mountain of debt. I cried out to Him that I could have filed bankruptcy back in 1982 and have spared my family these past seven years of deprivation. I was angry at God for allowing me to have gone through all this, and then suffer what I viewed as total defeat at the end of this long journey.
Needless to say, at that moment I was not thinking about all the things that we had learned during this time period. Nor did I remember the fact that for 7 years God had literally provided us with everything that we had needed. Because of all that we had learned about praise and worship during our wilderness adventure we had been able to walk down that road with peace and joy, so much so that we were able to witness to numerous individuals who had no idea how we could be so happy in the midst of such adversity. I had momen- tarily discounted the fact that during this same period the Most High had taught us the basics of the overcomer message, and that He had given me the opportunity to write down all that I had learned and experienced in order to share it with others. In reality it took me about 1 year to come to the realization that instead of closing down our ministry, God was simply opening up new opportunities for us to share His love, grace and mercy.
Just as the manna stopped for the Israelites when they crossed the Jordan, so also had the time come for us to return to secular jobs. As our fellowship is small, and 90% of it's members are school age, Alice and I each have jobs to sustain our family so that we can minister without being a burden to such a small group of young people. Currently, while we tithe to our church, we do not draw any income from our ministry. Part of the reason we do this is so that the parents of those young people who regularly take part in our activities do not misunderstand our motives. Like Paul in Thessalonica we know we have the right to receive support from those to whom we minister, but also, like Paul we do not want to insist upon something which could so easily be misinterpreted.
Now that our debt had been eliminated, garnishment would not wipe out our income. Just when our circumstances changed, Alice was offered a full time substitute job teaching at the Kansas Treatment and Learning Center here in Kansas. The KTLC is a self contained K – 12 school for students who had been identified as severe and profound social – emotional disordered. While I had no teaching background, I checked into the possibility of subbing as a classroom aide.
By the time school was over in June of 1989 Alice had been offered a teaching position for one semester back at Charleston High School where she had taught between 1971 and 1976, and I had been working as an aide almost full time since February. During this time I prayed about what I was supposed to do from this time forward. As Alice and I both knew that I was not to return to the practice of law, we both sought the Lord’s direction. Much of what we did with our ministry was centered around young people, who had weekends, winter break, spring break and summer vacation according to the school calendar, and I had come to see that there was a tremendous need for teachers who were willing to work with special education students who had been identified as BD.
After a great deal of prayer, I checked into returning to school in order to obtain teacher certification in the field of Special Education. While the thought of going back to school was not exactly what I had envisioned for myself, it just so happened that I ended up speaking with an advisor at the Special Education department on the last day of registration for that fall. Before I had left her office, I was pre-registered for the coming term, had found out that I was eligible for enough scholarships so that my tuition and books would be paid for, and was eligible for a subsidized student loan which would help us meet our living expenses for the time it would take me to complete my certification course work. Including student teaching, this turned out to be 1-½ years. During this time I was a ‘non-traditional’ student surrounded by classmates, the vast majority of whom were young enough to be my daughters. Upon completion of my course work in the mid 1990/91 school year, I was immediately hired as a full time aide at the KTLC, and was able to begin teaching full time in the fall of 1991. In the mean time, while Alice’s’ one semester teaching position at Charleston had come to an end, she had accepted a position as a drug counselor at the Central East Alcohol and Drug Council in Charleston.
In the spring of 1992 we were able to obtain a mortgage and buy the house we had moved into in Kansas in October of 1984. Without going into great detail, I will simply point out that the house we were in had actually been sold on contract in 1986 to an elderly brother in the Lord who had been living with us for about 2 ½ years - Henry was his name. He told us that the Lord had told him to buy it in order to give it to us. However, he was never able to come up with the full down payment, so that contract was never legally executed. Even though this was the case, the man who wanted to sell the house to Henry on contract gave us credit for the payments which we had made on the verbal agreement for the last 3 years. Therefore, we got the full benefit of everything that had transpired up to that time.
After I completed my Masters in Special Education, I had hoped that I was finished with college courses. After all, I had obtained my Bachelors Degree in 1968, my Juris Doctorate in 1971, my teacher certification in the fall of 1990 and my Masters in Special Education in 1992. That should have been enough. However, God had other plans. In 1993 I believed that the Lord was directing me to return to school and obtain my Administrative certifica- tion. Now believe me when I tell you that furthering my career in education was the farthest thing from my mind. I loved teaching at the Kansas TLC, and several of the students there had begun coming to our church and had taken part in several of our camping trips. I had no overall desire to become a principal, and certainly not a principal in the public education system. The only student population I wanted to work with was Special Education.
However, I had learned a long time ago to not attempt to second-guess God. As such, I signed up for my first class in Educational Administration in the fall of 1993. The first evening of class I sat next to a young man who had graduated from Millikin University in Decatur, IL about 2 years before. I mentioned that I had heard of Millikin and that I thought it was an excellent school. As a private university though, I knew that it was expensive to go there. As our conversation continued, he asked me if I had any children. I told him about Evan and Jeremy, and said that Jeremy was going to be graduating valedic- torian the following spring from Kansas High School. He told me that that was great and that I should check out Millikin because they had a special scholarship for valedictorians that paid half their tuition. He also mentioned that if Jeremy qualified for their honors program, the other half of his tuition would also be covered.
At that moment I recalled my conversation with God late one evening while we still lived out in the country. The Holy Spirit gently reminded me of my comment about not having the money I needed to provide for my son’s college education if I continued to follow whole heartedly after God. We asked Jeremy about Millikin and wondered if he would even be interested in taking a ride over to Decatur to check it out. He thought that was a great idea. Four years later he graduated from Millikin with honors, and his tuition was taken care of by those two scholarships. In fact, one of them even transferred so that he was able to spend the second semester of his Junior year studying at a University in Madrid, Spain. While I clearly understand that Jeremy’s hard work had a significant part to play in this whole scenario, I also know that by doing what God had directed me to do, I was in the right place to obtain a piece of information which we might never have found out otherwise. And that piece of information was worth over $48,000!!
In fact, I was tempted to quit the Educational Administration courses after this, because I figured that that was what God had planned for me. However, the Lord made it clear to me that I was to continue with these courses until I had obtained my Administrative Certifica- tion, which I did by the summer of 1995. The next two years passed by relatively unevent- fully. During the summer of 1998 however things began to change. The Teacher whom I student taught under, and who had become Principal at Kansas TLC and under whom I had worked since 1992, had resigned her position at Kansas in order to accept a Special Education Directors’ position for a school district about 40 miles northeast of us. That meant that the Principal’s position at Kansas TLC was open, and if the current Adminis- tration of Eastern Illinois Area Special Education Cooperative (EIASE) followed form, they would fill it from within the school, and I was the only one there with Administrative certification.
Now I knew what God had in mind! After all, being principal meant that I would get about a $15,000 raise, and that was how God was going to begin restoring everything that we had lost in the early 80’s. WRONG. You see, God had other plans. One of the other applicants for the TLC position was a dear sister in the Lord who use to work for EIASE as a social worker. But she had left in order to become an assistant principal for another school. When I first began subbing for EIASE I met Janet and I instantly fell in love with her - as a sister in the Lord, that is. During the time that I worked at the Mattoon TLC I got to know her, and gained a tremendous amount of respect for both her walk with the Lord, and her compassion towards our students.
To make a long story short again, allow me to say that I didn’t get the Principal’s position. Janet did. I still remember calling her late on the afternoon that we were to be told who received the job. By then I was certain that I had not gotten it, but I wanted her to know that if I didn’t get it, I wanted her to have it. To be completely honest, earlier in the day, when I realized that I hadn’t gotten the job, I was hurt, and a little bit angry towards God. This was one of those times in my life when the Lord was rather quick to point out that I was totally out of line. God made it very clear to me that I was to submit to the authorities that He had placed over me, and I was to do so in love and respect. By the time I called Janet I was over my little pity party, and when I told her that I would help her in any way I could, we both began to cry over the phone. The 1998 – 1999 school year at Kansas TLC was fabulous. While it was Janet’s first year, she fit right in with the rest of the staff, and still maintained her position as Principal. I believe that if you ask her, she would tell you that I was true to my word, and helped her and encouraged her whenever I could.
At this point we are now back to the afternoon of May 16th, 1999. As I said towards the end of the third paragraph of this article, after I told Alice and my mom what had happened, and had spoken to Tony, I went looking for Evan and Terah. After the initial shock had worn off, I believe that Alice and I both had complete peace about the whole situation. In fact, my mom was more upset then we were. While I was looking for Evan & Terah, Alice was busy assuring her that everything was going to be ok.
When I saw Evan and Terah coming down the corridor of the main building in the Holmstad complex, I remember telling them both that I was going to share something with them that, while it was quite a problem, God had given Alice and I complete peace about it. I then assured them that while everything was going to be ok, we had to return to Kansas immediately because our house was on fire. For a quick moment they both looked at me with a cross between a smile, and a surprised look on their faces. I again assured them that everything would be ok, and they both looked at each other, and then looked at me and saw that I didn’t appear to be overwhelmed by the whole situation and said “Ok.” At this point we rejoined Alice and mom in her apartment. We said a quick prayer with Nana, and again assured her that everything would be ok. At this point we left Batavia and began the 3-½ hour ride back to Kansas.
While this may sound a little hard to believe, we were singing praise songs to God and joking about the whole thing before we had gotten more than 20 miles away from Batavia. Understand, we weren’t praising God for burning our house down. Without a doubt we knew that satan had destroyed our house. We were already standing on the promise that when the thief has been caught, he must repay double for what he has stolen. Therefore, we were praising God because we knew that we knew that we knew that He had everything in control. While we still had no idea as to exactly how bad things were, we were pretty sure that virtually everything we had was gone.
When we had last talked with Tony he said that our cat Bitsy had gotten out, but he was evasive as to whether our dog Aussie had made it. At that point I was pretty sure that she hadn’t. This only served to convince me even more that this fire was not a sign from God that we should move. After all, I don’t believe that God would have killed our dog as part of the process of leading us to a new location. In regards to our house, allow me to say that when we moved there in October of 1984, we knew that this was the place where we were to be. While the house was old, and it would eventually need work, it was a peaceful place. Everyone who ever came there told us that they could feel the presence of the Lord when they were there. The very first night when we moved in I had planned on anointing every door and window the next day. That night the Lord told me that was not necessary because the house had been consecrated to Him. We later found out that the people who lived there before had held Bible studies there on a regular basis. For years after that we continued the same tradition. From August of 1992 until we moved our meetings over to the fellowship hall of the Presbyterian Church in Kansas, we even met as a house church every Wednesday evening and every Sunday morning. It was indeed a blessed house.
While I had begun the process of remodeling back in 1998 by redoing the living room and installing a new 90% efficient furnace, it was going to take a great deal of money and a great deal of time to complete the process. As a teacher, I had the time during the summers to do the work, but we didn’t have the money. The house needed new siding, windows, roof, rewiring, and the kitchen and bathroom needed to be completely redone. When we were finished we would have an old shell with a new house around it. We would also have an additional $75,000 mortgage. In fact, the reason we didn’t have insurance on the house at that particular time was that the insurance company wouldn’t give us a new policy until we had repaired the chimney.
You see, with the new furnace installed in the back room, we didn’t use the old central chimney. When it collapsed, in the early fall, I simply let it sit that way because we were going to put a new roof on the following spring. As we had the mortgage down to about the value of the land on which the house sat, I was standing on God’s promise in the 91st Psalm to protect my ‘tent.’ To this day I am not completely sure why satan was able to destroy our house, but I know the problem is not with God’s word. I may very well have been walking in more presumption than faith, or I may not have been dwelling in the secret place of the Most High. In any event, we have stood firm on the promise that when the thief is caught he must repay double.
Returning to our drive home, it soon dawned on me that we only had the clothes we were wearing. As such, we stopped off at the Wal Mart in Champaign in order to buy something for the next day. Since we were still laughing and joking, the cashier said that it was apparent that we had had a good day. We all looked at each other and laughed as I told her that actually our house had burned down and that we were buying these clothes because we didn’t have anything else to wear. She immediately apologized for saying what she did. We told her that she hadn’t said anything wrong. She then said that we were certainly taking the whole thing rather well. At which point we shared with her that as long as God is in charge, we have nothing to fear.
God had already assured me that He had a place for us to stay and that we would be able to rent the small home that was kitty-corner from the southeast edge of our property. It had a large garage, which we would need to clean anything we were able to salvage, and it had two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen/dining area. We referred to it as our ‘hotel suite.’ Little did I now then that were going to be in it for 2 years. Originally I felt that we would be able to rebuild within 3 months. But that was not to be. However, I am getting a little ahead of myself.
When we arrived at our house, or what was left of it, it was dark. Jeremy and Ellen had driven in from St. Louis. Along with the remainder of the volunteer fire department and all the young people from our fellowship, they were awaiting our arrival. We parked across the street, and I believe that Evan was the first one out of the car. I remember him saying, “We’re ok” as soon as he got out. Jeremy came up to me immediately and said, “It’s all gone.” I remember looking him in the eyes and telling him that it was ok, that we knew God had it all in control. He then told me that Ellen’s parents had told them to tell us that they wanted us to stay with them until we got settled elsewhere. That took care of the immediate problem of where we were going to stay. We were then also told that several people had gone into Charleston already and had bought all of us some new clothes so we would have something to where for the next few days. Problem # 2 taken care of. We were then told that someone was going to open up an account in our name at the bank in the morning for whoever wanted to make a contribution. Immediately, Kevin, one of the TLC teachers who had driven over to Kansas when they had heard what had happened, came up to me and shook my hand and told me that he was so sorry that this had happened to us. He then gave me a $100 to help us out during the next few days. All these things served to confirm the fact that God had it all in control.
One of the firemen then offered to take me though the house. Apparently the fire had begun in the crawl space under the kitchen where it joins the living room. It then went straight up the wall into our bedroom on the second floor. It had eaten through the ceiling in the kitchen and made a hole about 6 feet long and 2 feet wide along the wall that separated our bedroom from what had been Jeremy’s bedroom before he and Ellen got married. The firemen said that it was one of the hottest fires they had ever seen. Had there been more oxygen, from an open window or door, they would have lost the entire house. While the shell was indeed worthless, numerous things inside were salvageable.
We were then to learn that even before the firemen were completely finished, they had allowed Tony to come into the north part of the house on the first floor and hand things out to the people who had gathered to help where they could. You see, the fire damage was basically confined to the first and second floor of the south side of the house. While everything was literally coated with smoke residue, those things located on the north side were spared heat damage. Unfortunately, the vast vast majority of our furniture and artwork (Kitchen, Living Room, Bedroom) were located on the south side, and therefore pretty well destroyed by the fire and heat. However, all of our family photos, papers, computer & back up files and even my collection of Christmas ornaments were located on the north side. In short, everything that was replaceable was indeed lost. But everything that was irreplaceable (with the sad exception of our dog Aussie) was salvageable. This included back up files of all the material that I have written for our ministry, as well as the original legal pad notes and manuscripts I had written long before I obtained my first computer in 1989. Our friends had filled the bed of pickup truck with the things they were able to get out that night. The rest they were able to put inside our ministry’s cargo trailer. What a blessing they all were.
That evening we stayed with Ed & Nancy at their house in the country, northwest of Kansas. Bright and early the next day however, I headed back to town to see if I could make arrangements for renting the house that the Lord said we would be able to stay in until we could rebuild. As it turned out, just as I pulled into town, the son of the owner of that house was pulling out of the bank parking lot. I flagged him down and asked if he knew whether that house was available, and could we rent it. His answer to each question was “yes.” He told me to check with his construction companies’ office manager as soon as she got to work, and that the arrangements could be made for us to move in immediately. Before the day was over, people had offered us the use of a bed, several couches, a kitchen table, a TV and enough kitchenware to start over again.
I then drove over to the house to see it in daylight. Believe me when I tell you that even though I knew God was in control, it was truly sad to see what had happened. That was the house where my sons had grown up. The marks on the wall by the back closet door where we had measured their growth over the years were now covered with smoke, but they were still there. The living room that I had remodeled was now a charred mess. And the smell of smoke filled everything.
Here are some pictures of what awaited us:
View from Kitchen
looking into Living Room
Looking down through hole in floor from
Second floor bedroom to the kitchen below.
View into Jeremy’s
View from Fred & Alice’s bedroom looking back from their front window towards Jeremy’s room which is visible through hole in wall.
room wasn’t damaged by flames, everything in it was ruined by the smoke
Here the backhoe is taking down the last of the front
For the next two days we salvaged what we could. The first thing we had to do was bury our dog Aussie in the back field. After that we went from room to room to see what we could keep. These things were then loaded into our pickup, brought to the house we were renting and stored in the garage. We were able to keep the garage door open all summer in order to allow the smell of smoke to dissipate. Jeremy and Ellen were able to help us all day Monday, and when Evan came home from school each day, he joined in. By Thursday Alice and I returned to work. I believe that it is important to note here that we did not allow the fire, and subsequent upheaval it brought to our lives to interfere with our plans to take our fellowship on a 15 day mission trip to the Navajo reservation that summer, or to Cornerstone a week after we returned from the mission outreach. satan may have stolen our house, but we were not going to allow him to prevent us from doing what the Lord had called us to do in regards to His ministry!)
During the next few months we completed the task of cleaning and storing what we could, and made arrangements for a bulldozer to demolish what was left of our house and bury it. As I was to find out shortly, once the bank was assured that we would be able to keep up our mortgage payments (they were only $290 per month) and absorb the additional monthly living expenses we were now faced with, they were somewhat understanding about the insurance situation. However, under no circumstances were they going to work with us when it came to building a new home. We simply did not have enough income to justify the needed loan. And while our bankruptcy had occurred 10 years before all this happened, we were not able to secure the needed financing from other sources either. It looked like we were going to stay in our rented ‘suite hotel’ for a little longer than I had anticipated.
The only trouble with this was, even though the combined additional rent plus our old mortgage and remodeling loan equaled what we would need to pay for a new house, we were not in a position to continue to pay these new costs and save for a down payment. Alice’s salary at CEAD and my salary as a teacher at the TLC simply didn’t provide us with enough income to do both. However, from the income perspective even though satan meant it for evil, the Lord quickly turned a portion of it around for our good. While Jeremy’s college tuition had been taken care of as I outlined earlier, Evan was now a Junior in high school, and these additional living expenses were simply another drain on my ability to provide for his upcoming college expenses. Evan however did not want to go to Millikin. He wanted to go to Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. Since Eastern was a State university, the tuition would be less than Millikin, but I still wasn’t sure how we were going to cover it.
Alice’s and my combined incomes were such that Evan would not qualify for either an Illinois Map Grant, or a Pell Grant, but since the loss of our house was not covered by insurance, we were able to deduct the entire cost of the loss from our income. Needless to say, our net income that year for tax purposes was ‘$ 0.’ And since it was our income that year which was used to figure Evan’s eligibility for other grants and scholarships for his first year at Eastern, that first year wasn’t going to cost us anything. Furthermore, the tax refund we did receive was used to pay off an outstanding tax debt which was currently costing us about $100 per month. In effect, the fire solved three financial situations for us at once.
Then something interesting happened. Somewhere around the end of May or the 1st of June, I was contacted by the Director of Special Education for a nearby school district that was interested in developing a school similar in concept to the Kansas TLC. I was asked to apply for the Principal’s job at this new school. As it turned out, the salary for this position would have equaled that which I would have made had I been chosen as Principal of Kansas TLC. Well this time I just knew that God had opened this door for me. After all, this way Janet could remain at KTLC and I could take over this new school. Everyone would be happy, and I would now have the $15,000 dollar raise that I failed to get when I was passed over for the KTLC Principal’s position. After all, I had submitted to the authorities that had been placed over me, and was totally supportive of Janet, and did everything I could to help her during her first year at KTLC. Surely this time God had opened this door. Remember, I hadn’t sought it out, it had sought me out. WRONG.
For the next month and a half this job situation remained opened with no one being able to make a final decision. The Special Education director said that she thought I had had a good interview with the district superintendent, and she further indicated that I was her first choice. Furthermore, my salary request was within what they were willing to pay. Even though the candidate he ultimately chose had no special education background I was not selected for the job. It turned out that the Superintendent had decided to hire from within.
When it became obvious that this was the case I had another one of those conversations with God. You know the type, “Surely you made a mistake God, this would have been perfect for me.” As was the case before, He reminded me – more gently this time – that He was in charge, and that I needed to return to the KTLC next year. Not only did I return to the TLC, but Alice was able to secure a full time teaching position there as well. For the past year she had been performing similar teaching duties at CEAD council’s new youth facility, but because of CEAD’s structure, did not have the back up and support that the Kansas program offers. Besides, she was going to earn the same salary at the TLC that she was earning with CEAD, only now she was going to have all the regular school holidays off plus 2 ½ months during the summer. So as it turned out, Janet now had 2 Kubiceks on her staff.
During the first day of class Janet advised me that I had been selected as Head Teacher, replacing the one who resigned earlier that morning. As we had both prayed about my potential job situation with this other district, and she was aware of our financial need, she was greatly surprised by the outcome of that situation. She said that she was sure I would not be back. Several weeks into the term I knew why I needed to be there for one more year.
Within 3 weeks Janet was to learn that her husband had been diagnosed with bone cancer. She was going to need to rely upon me more this year than she had ever had to rely upon a co-worker before. In a sense, we were more then just co-workers, when it came to our students we were unofficial prayer partners. We didn’t violate any of the supposed rules of separation of Church and State, but we kept each other informed of what supported we needed in regards to situations as they arose each day. We then prayed about them before or after school hours. This year, Janet was going to need more support than ever before. She needed to know that when she had to be out of the building, she could place complete confidence in the person she left in charge. (Side bar – if you are interested in reading more about the myth behind the separation of Church and state story, take a few minutes and read our on-line article “One Nation Under God.”)
For the remainder of the 1999 – 2000 school year I continually lifted her and her family up before the Lord. I also did everything within my power to see to it that the TLC ran smoothly, and that Janet only had to deal with those issues which absolutely needed her attention as Principal. Let me clearly state here that this could not have been possible were it not for the understanding and support of the other staff members as well.
As for me, well in June of 2000 I was contacted by my former Principal, who had recently accepted a new position as Principal of a small private special education school in yet another community 50 miles northwest of Kansas. For personal reasons, she was going to leave that job, and was wondering if I would be interested. Here we go again! My first thought was that I didn’t want to drive an hour each way to work. Especially since I would have to be on the road each morning by 6:30. I am not a ‘morning person.’ However, I told her I would pray about it.
Again, to make a long story short, after Alice and I did pray about it, I felt led to interview for the job. As I thought more about the job, I realized that I would have an hour to praise and pray each morning and each afternoon. What could possibly be wrong with that? Furthermore, this school was relatively new, and as it grew I would be able to shape it into the type of program which experience had shown me would be the most effective in working with the type of students I had grown to love. And, as it was a relatively unique program within the large corporation which owned the school, by proving the effectiveness of this type of program the company may wish to replicate it, thereby expanding the influence I would be able to have on a secular education program. Finally, as it turned out, I won’t simply get a 50% salary increase, it would be 100%!! As usual, by waiting upon the Lord I would end up better off than I would have been with either of the two previous principal opportunities. After returning from a 15-day trip to Israel (the all expense trip had been given to Alice & I by Jeremy & Ellen about 3 months before the fire), I began working at my new job on August 25, 2000.
With my significant pay increase I again approached the local bank and asked them if they would be able to work with us on the mortgage for a new house. This time they said yes, although the interest rate and down payment terms were less than ideal. As it turned out, I was still not able to secure the down payment that they required. But when God’s timing is correct He is not limited to man’s system. (Everything that you have read up to this point was written by me the weekend of April 27th 2000. As of this time neither our building loan, nor the down payment have been secured. In effect, I am stepping out in faith, for I believe that the Lord has shown us that within a few weeks these things will have fallen into place. In short, I am writing this testimony before the final pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place. I am calling things that are not as though they are. I will both finish this and post it on our web site along with pictures of our new house, when it is completed.)
It is now the evening of May 26, 2001, and as several interesting things have happened in the last month, I thought I would jot them down so as not to forget them – not that I would. To begin with, within the past week we have been able to obtain the money necessary for our down payment. Needless to say, that has been a definite ‘Praise the Lord.’ On the other hand, just to complicate things a little, within a week of being advised of the good news concerning our down payment, the out of town management of our local bank, (which really isn’t local anymore - having been bought up by a larger institution) decided to go back on their earlier commitment to work with us. This now left us with a down payment, but no one to work with for either the construction loan or permanent financing.
It is now August, and the Lord has indeed provided for us in ways which we could not have anticipated. During the month of June, our landlord approached us with the idea of buying the home we had been renting since the fire. As Alice and I began to talk about this possibility we realized that if we merely completed the remodeling which our landlord had begun 6 months earlier, and expanded it even further by adding another room, our present situation would more than meet our needs. Besides, even with the cost of this remodeling figured in, the total cost of this project would be about 1/3rd less than the modular we had been looking at.
However, the bank was not done throwing monkey wrenches into the works. As the amount of money involved in the purchase of our present residence was considerably less than the modular, they were now willing to work with us – but only up to a point. You see, while they would loan us the money to purchase the home, they would not loan us the extra sums needed to remodel. And without remodeling, the house was a little too small for our needs. Since our landlord wanted to sell the house, we were now faced with the possibility of having to move without knowing where we would move.
At this point the Lord stepped in. You see, the brother in the Lord who
had agreed to loan us the money needed for our down payment approached us
and offered to loan us not only the money needed for the purchase of our
house, but for the remodeling expenses also!!!! Talk about a praise the Lord
– but that wasn’t all. Remember I had said that while the bank was
willing to work with us, the interest rate they were wanting to charge us
was a little on the high side? Well, the brother in the Lord went on
to say that he would loan us the needed money for a full percentage point
less then the rate the bank was going to charge. To make a long story short
– we closed on our house August 13, 2001, and here is a picture of it.
In the mean time, Evan and Terah were married this July 21st, and held their reception on the site of our old house. Here is a picture of their reception. Again, what satan meant for destruction, the Lord turned into a celebration of life.