God Calling

God Calling

It had always been Ken Gaub’s goal to help those who were hurting. “Some people just need a little boost, and I wanted to influence their lives in a positive way,” he says. 
He became a traveling missionary and with his family, conducted crusades not only in America but in many foreign countries. He established a magazine, a radio and television ministry and a youth outreach program.

But sometimes even preachers get drained and discouraged, and they wonder if they should consider another line of work. That was how Ken felt one day in the 1970s as he, his wife Barbara, and their children drove their two ministry buses down highway 1-75 just south of Dayton, Ohio. God, am I doing any good, traveling around like this, telling people about you? He wondered silently. Is this what you want me to do?

“Hey, Dad, let’s get some pizza!” one of Ken’s sons suggested. Still lost in thought, Ken turned off at the next exit, Route 741, where one sign after another advertised a wide variety of fast food. A sign, Ken mused. That’s what I need, God, a sign.

Ken’s son and daughter-in-law had already maneuvered the second bus into a pizza parlor’s parking lot, and they stood waiting as Ken pulled up. The rest of the family bounced down the steps. Ken sat staring into space.
“Coming?” Barbara asked.
“I’m really not hungry,” Ken told her. “I’ll stay out here and stretch my legs.”

Barbara followed the others into the restaurant, and Ken stepped outside, closed the bus doors, and looked around. Noticing a Dairy Queen, he strolled over, bought a soft drink, and ambled back, still pondering. He was exhausted. But was his tiredness a sign of permanent burnout?

A persistent ringing broke Ken’s concentration. The jangle was coming from a pay telephone booth at the service station right next to the Dairy Queen. As Ken approached the booth, he looked to see if anyone in the station was coming to answer the phone. But the attendant continued his work, seemingly oblivious to the noise.

Why doesn’t someone answer it? Ken wondered, growing irritated. What if it is an emergency?
The insistent ringing went on. Ten rings. Fifteen…

Curiosity overcame Ken’s lethargy. Walking to the booth, he lifted the receiver. “Hello?”
“Long distance call for Ken Gaub,” came the voice of the operator.

Ken was stunned. “You’re crazy!” he said. Then, realizing his rudeness, he tried to explain. “This can’t be! I was just walking down the road here, and this phone was ringing –“
The operator ignored his ramblings. “Is Ken Gaub there?” she asked. “I have a long distance phone call for him.”

Was this a joke? Automatically, Ken smoothed his hair for the Candid Camera crew that must surely appear. But no one came. His family was eating pizza in a randomly selected restaurant just a few yards from where he stood. And no one else knew he was here.

“I have a long distance call for Ken Gaub, sir,” the operator said again, obviously reaching the limits of her patience. “Is he there or isn’t he?”
“Operator, I’m Ken Gaub,” Ken said, still unable to make sense of it all.
“Are you sure?” the operator asked, but just then, Ken heard another woman’s voice on the telephone.

“Yes, that’s him, Operator!” she said. “Mr. Gaub, I’m Millie from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. You don’t know me, but I’m desperate. Please help me.”
“What can I do for you?” Ken asked. The operator hung up.

Millie began to weep, and Ken waited patiently for her to regain control. Finally, she explained: “I was about to kill myself, and I started to write a suicide note. Then I began to pray and tell God I really didn’t want to do this.” Through her desolation, Millie remembered seeing Ken on television. If she could just talk to that nice, kindly minister, the one with the understanding attitude…

“I knew it was impossible because I didn’t know how to reach you,” Mille went on, calmer now. “So I started to finish the note. And then some numbers came into my mind, and I wrote them down.” She began to weep again. 
Silently, Ken prayed for the wisdom to help her.
“I looked at those numbers,” Mille continued tearfully, “and I thought – wouldn’t it be wonderful if I had a miracle from God, and he has given me Ken’s phone number? I can’t believe I’m talking to you. Are you in your office in California?”

“I don’t have an office in California,” Ken explained. “It’s in Yakima, Washington.”
“Then where are you?” Millie asked, puzzled.

Ken was even more bewildered. “Mille, don’t you know? You made the call.”
“But I don’t know what area this is.” Millie had dialed the long distance operator and given the numbers to her, making it a person to person call. And somehow, she had found Ken in a parking lot in Dayton, Ohio.

Ken gently counseled the woman, and led her to meet the one who would lead her out of her situation into a new life. Then he hung up the phone, still dazed. Would his family believe this incredible story? Perhaps he shouldn’t tell anyone about it.

But he had prayed for an answer, and he had received just what he needed – a renewed sense of purpose, a glimpse of the value of his work, an electrifying awareness of God’s concern for each one of his children – all in an encounter that could only have been arranged by his heavenly Father.

Ken’s heart overflowed with joy. “Barb,” he exclaimed as his wife climbed back into the bus, “you won’t believe this! God knows where I am!”