Coincidence? Or God?

By Marilyn Kettering Badger

May 30, 2017

A Christian One-Liner says:

Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.   

My thought is:  or is it when people chose to ignore Him.


This story predates the time of credit cards, gas cards, cell phones, or gadgets like that. My twin brother, Merlyn, decided to delay his final year at Manchester College in 1963-64, in order to volunteer to serve the Church of the Brethren as National Youth Director for one year.  So his final year at Manchester College became 1964-65.  During that year out of college, he worked with the National Youth Cabinet in planning and working at church camps, setting up the volunteer summer fieldwork plans where college students helped in youth work at churches, as well as the Regional Youth Conferences and the National Youth Conference which that year was at Squaw Valley, California.  He was to help lead the youth camps, conferences, and Dan West was to speak.  They had a tight time schedule of when they needed to be places.


When it came time for the trip, Merlyn, Dan West and my younger brother, Dan, packed up for the long drive to California.  This all comes with interesting stories of drinking buttermilk, eating unusual foods and interesting conversations amongst the three of them.  Travelling into the mountains of CA, they saw signs that said to watch for falling/fallen rocks.  When you come around a bend in the road at night and are face to face with a large fallen rock on your side of the road and have no chance to change your course, you do the only thing possible – hit it.  And that damaged the car….badly….. and that is what happened to them. 


Since it was night and dark and they are alone in the midst of somewhere unknown, they looked around and saw a light in a building off in the distance and set out walking to get there.  Knocking on a stranger’s door in the middle of the night was somewhat daunting too.  A gentleman came to the door.  They explained the damaged car, the need to meet a deadline and the need for a mechanic to help them.  The man listened to the dilemma and said he thought he knew someone who could help and offered to take them to the person.  As they were driving, he asked where they were from and where they were headed to and why.  Matter of fact they felt they needed to pool the money they had between them to get Dan West on a bus, in order to get there in time for his speech.  They also asked this kind helper-man if he had always lived out west and he said, “No, he was from Illinois.”  My brothers replied that’s where their mother was from.  They told him Astoria and he said he was from Summum/Ipava and they said actually that was where Mom was from also.  He asked her name and when they told him her maiden name was Beula Stambaugh, he said he could hardly believe them.  She was his teacher in his one-room school house when he was younger and he loved her as his teacher.  After that he would do anything he could to help them.  They found the man to work on the car and they worked around the clock to get the car repaired so they could go on their way.  (They had, by now, sent Dan West ahead of them by bus.)  When the car was done, payment arrangements were made and they headed to Squaw Valley, CA and got there in time to help with the conference.  A bruised car, but with no further incidents.  They still had to get back home to Ohio.


But what a story!  This whole thing had been a “God-thing”; not a coincidence!  Who else could have arranged a meeting like this with such a distance of travel (Ohio to California) for the involved people and such a distance of time (sixty years and 2 generations) and a need for help and help found!  And the key was the element of love from the distant past.  Yep, it sure was a “God–thing”!  Give credit where credit is due!  Thanks God for watching over our travels and our needs.  (I tried to get my brother Dan to write this. If you want to know more about this episode in his life, ask him and be sure to hear how much he enjoyed (?) the food they ate on the trip.  Ask him what food he remembers the most!)

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