Recently I reconnected with an old friend, Les, with whom I hadn’t spoken to in almost a quarter of a century. The Prouty’s were some of the finest people I had ever met. And still are.
As we were catching up, I was reminded of a story he told me all those years ago. A true story that magnifies God’s amazing provision. But before I recount the tale, let me give you some context.
As I recall, the Prouty’s had been called to ministry and had followed God’s voice to seminary, despite the chagrin of his prominent Alabama family. A family business was Les’ to run, but he forsook that and pursued Jesus’ vocational direction. With small children and the conviction that his wife, Helen, was to stay home with the children, he did his best to make ends meet. This included working straight commission at a furniture store while attending classes fulltime.
One particular month, there was a dearth of sales and the family began to run out of basic staples. While making sure the kids were properly fed and clothed, the parents were digging through couches looking for change to purchase cheap hotdogs (no buns, mind you) for their subsistence.
I took Les out to eat that providential day, the day of the anonymous envelope. I remember how Les agonized over the situation, how his calling had affected their family. So before breaking bread we prayed that God would provide. And He did.
Amazingly, while we were eating our cheap pizza, a woman unknown by the store staff came in to Les’ workplace, found his work area and strategically placed a plain, anonymous envelope on his storeroom desk. All she said was, “Make sure he gets it.”
A couple of hours later I received a call and Les was beside himself: “While we were at lunch someone showed up and left several hundred dollars in an anonymous envelope. Our prayers have been answered.” He paused for the longest … “But I have no clue who did it.”
“God did, I think.”
“Your right, Linden. I just wonder who He used to bless us in such an amazing way.”
It was a Wednesday, so later that night the family attended prayer meeting at their church. Unable to contain her joy, Helen told the story. As I remember it, everyone rejoiced, wept and God’s presence was felt as all were captivated by God’s mercy and goodness. A small revival had broken out. All because of an anonymous envelope and someone’s giving spirit. And God’s provision.
Many years later Les and Helen discovered what had happened. Another seminary couple had been the culprit. In a well-planned scheme, knowing that Les would be out to lunch, the couple’s wife came in a side door, placed the envelope and fled quickly. It was later revealed that the beneficent couple, not much better off than the struggling Prouty’s but without children, had taken ½ of their savings in order to meet this need.
How cool is that? No wonder that after all these years we were still mesmerized by the marvel of this story and the kindness of God.
So what became of Les and Helen? They now have 5 children and 4 grandchildren. They graduated from seminary, pastored for several years, and he now directs the Haiti Orphan Project.
And what became of the sacrificial couple? That story remains untold, but I’m sure they would be thrilled that such a seemingly small thing contributed to God’s kingdom work through such a devout family.
After reliving this account of God’s provision in both families’ lives, all I could say to Les was, “I bet they never missed the money. And, compared to the impoverished people you minister to in Haiti, they are filthy rich.”
“Probably so. But that was one precious anonymous envelope to me and my family.”
… Much will be required of everyone who has been given much. And even more will be expected of the one who has been entrusted with more. —Luke 12:48, HCSB
… give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. —Luke 6:38, ESV