Items For Prayer And Praise
By Lois J. Stucky
Another former Herald of His Coming worker has finished his course below and is in the presence of Jesus. Joseph L. Levens, who gave 25 of some of the prime years of his life to the Lord through the Herald of His Coming ministry, passed from this life in July. We thank God for leading Brother Joe to the Herald and for his "work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thes. 1:3).
In 1960 Brother Joe was living alone in the desert, holding a good job as a government plumber when he read in Herald of His Coming that Sister Moore had injured her heart while lifting a typewriter. When he read the plea for additional help, God touched his heart. "I have muscles and strength to spare," he thought. "They are needed for the Lord at Herald of His Coming."
Within a few months he was living and working in downtown Los Angeles, filling a niche in the Herald ministry. For months the Herald staff had been praying for a strong, consecrated man to drive the Herald van in city traffic, and to help Brother Quimby in the mailing department. Brother Joe had been a bus driver in his earlier years and had the experience that fitted him for the job.
For months the staff had also been praying for a strong person to help in the kitchen, as well as for a restaurant stove that would be adequate for the large pots and pans needed to prepare meals for 20 and more workers. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that Brother Joe was one of those rare men who has cooking skills. And so he was asked to divide his time, and he willingly did – sometimes quickly pulling off his chef's apron to help load the Herald van to the hilt with mail bags and drive off to the Terminal Annex, and then out to the printers' to pick up bundles of papers.
As for the restaurant stove, very soon he had helped secure one and he installed it. To the kitchen he also added some space-saving shelves the cook had been wanting, and some paint and new linoleum to make the kitchen-dining room a more pleasant place for the workers who visited it three times daily. Wherever he was needed, he was ready and willing to lend a hand – whether unstopping a plugged sink, building a wardrobe, painting a worker's room, shopping for groceries for the Herald kitchen, mopping a floor or whatever. When credit was given him for a job well done or a novel idea, he was quick to give the Lord credit for being the Overseer and he the servant following orders.
Brother Joe felt a thrill in realizing he had come to Herald of His Coming in answer to prayer. He envisioned the Lord's eyes searching for someone He could use to answer those urgent pleas. Finally resting His gaze on Brother Joe, He said, "There he is!" and He issued His call. Brother Joe was ever grateful that he had answered, "I will go."
The Herald ministry changed locations twice while Brother Joe was on the staff. In both new settings, Brother Joe's ingenuity and hard work were invaluable in putting things in order in a workable, economic way so that the staff could better work together in getting out the Gospel.
When part of the Herald staff moved to the high desert and operated there from 1968 to 1972, it meant he often had to be on the road at 6:00 a.m. to Los Angeles. He drove to the Herald mailing department located there and then hurried back with the mail that had come in that day. We were all grateful that the morning of the big earthquake in 1971, when freeway bridges collapsed on the route he normally took, it was a half an hour earlier than he would have been passing that way. He had to reach Los Angeles by going the long way around that day.
Later, when the Herald was located in LaCanada, in Greater Los Angeles, we could almost set our clocks by the 5:30 a.m. hour when he started the car to go to Terminal Annex for the morning mail, ahead of rush hour traffic into downtown Los Angeles. Then he was seated for hours at the addressing machine, running through thousands of papers sent each month, or preparing packages of Heralds to be mailed to distributors. The last eight years he served as manager of the mailing department. He directed the mailing of Gospel literature to Africa, India, Latin America, the islands of the sea and all across our land – indeed into all the world.
To help spread the Gospel into all the world was great joy and fulfillment to him. Years earlier he had taken a short term course in missionary work and soul winning, but it had not worked out for him to go to the mission field then. The years he spent at Herald of His Coming gave him the fulfillment of his desire to tell others of Jesus. Through the printed page he touched lands he could never have touched in person.
Brother Joe esteemed Brother and Sister Moore highly for the Lord's sake, as we all did. They were a sweet, godly, dedicated couple – choice servants of the Lord. Their lives and prayers made deep impact on us all. When Brother Moore was in his 80's, he depended much on Brother Joe to drive him on errands and business trips. This he took as a sacred trust. He spoke of sensing a special, quiet blessing as he chauffeured this dear man of God.
At a time of discouragement when Brother Joe was wondering if he should continue on in the Herald ministry, God spoke to him unmistakably: "Brother Moore is an old man. Help him all you can." Brother Joe took that to heart. He proved faithful to what God asked of him, and his help was appreciated. Brother Joe never forgot that the last time he saw him before the Lord took Brother Moore home, Brother Moore had given him a handshake remarkably firm for a man 90 years old, and a beautiful smile and said, "God bless you, Brother Joe," in response to some kindness performed for him. One wonders, if farewells on this earth are precious, what are the welcomes in the better land!
Those of us who worked with Brother Joe through the years learned much from him of what it means to be a friend. He was quick to drop his concerns or his leisure to lend a helping hand or a listening ear. He taught us something of being the friend that loves at all times. In fact, his heart tended to run ahead of his head in giving and in doing at times. More prudent heads questioned. But God seemed each time to somehow get things back in order for him again, and we were reminded, "Give and it shall be given unto you…."
Strangers, too, benefited from his kindness, like the elderly couple who needed a tire changed on the freeway. Before he came to Herald of His Coming, while living not far from a railway track, his home seemed marked by hobos who knew that there they could find some food. And with a plate of food, he gave them a tract and talked to them about Jesus.
He felt that his praying grandmother whom he remembered from his childhood, had much to do with his serving the Lord. He recalled her faithful hour of prayer and spoke with much appreciation of his Christian mother who took the children to church and to camp meeting in the historic Quaker Church and Camp Meeting in Rhode Island. He told of the time at ten years of age when he first knew the joy of sins forgiven.
It was good to have Brother Joe as part of the prayer team. His prayers were in everyday language and warm with feeling. His confident expressions of faith in God to provide were helpful. Years earlier while he was in missionary training, it was a requirement that the male students hitchhike across country on a witnessing tour, taking a minimal amount of money with them. Brother Joe recounted for us the story of God's remarkable provision mile after mile. A faith already there was made stronger. In a faith ministry such as Herald of His Coming, depending alone on God's provision, everyone has plenty of need and opportunity to exercise his or her faith. Loads that cannot be lifted by strongest muscles can be lifted by prayer and faith, and Brother Joe's help in this regard was appreciated.
When I read A. B. Simpson's article on the preceding pages, I am made to think of Brother Joe's life typical of many of the rest of us. We have not talents and abilities that put us in the limelight. We lack opportunities that others enjoy, as in Joe's case due to the early death of his father. But what we do have is gladly, willingly given to the Lord rather than squandered on selfish living, God will work through us to accomplish those things that are important to Him in these last crisis days before Jesus comes again. There is much heart satisfaction in knowing we are filling the place God has planned for us. And who knows what reward Eternity will hold?
God does not lead all to leave a job, as he did Brother Joe, but we are all to recognize what God has given us and use it for Him. Maybe you are a praying grandmother. Keep faithful! Perhaps you are a mother or father taking care to raise your children in the ways of the Lord. Don't give up. In your community, show your friendliness and helpfulness. Use your opportunities to glorify God and to build His Kingdom and to plant the seed of the Gospel in the soil of everlasting souls.
The strength of our muscles, the lift of our faith, the love of our heart – we each have that which we can give. We can pour out the fullness of what God has given us for the sake of our dear Lord. We never know how soon we will be face to face with Him. We want to give the best account possible of this life. Nothing less than our best and our all is worthy of His love.