While working at Hyster Company in Portland, Oregon from 1969-1974, I had the privilege of having Ron Farrell as my boss in Systems Engineering. Ron had a very brilliant mind and a very conservative life philosophy. Although he was not a Christian when I first started working under him, he had quite a biblical worldview and was definitely searching. Often throughout the day he would ask me questions about the Bible and how it applied to the issues of life. Many times I would have to say, “I’m not sure about that but let me do some research and get back to you.” It really made me dig into God’s Word to try to give him a biblical answer. But, Ron, in his intellectual approach, struggled to take that step of faith to commit his life to Christ.
Ron’s brother, Mike also worked at Hyster and, like Ron, wasn’t a believer but was a truth seeker. He had questions about future events so I loaned him a book titled 666 by Salem Kirban. It spoke about the Rapture of believers and the period of Tribulation that would follow. He realized that he wasn’t ready if this rapture happened, so I shared the message of the Gospel with him and he prayed to receive Christ as his Savior. The changes that God was making in Mike’s life were obviously noted by his brother, Ron. One noon as they were out walking during our lunch break, Ron said to Mike, “It would be great if our dad had what you have. At least he’d have hope for the future life.” (Their dad struggled physically due to serious war injuries and had become bitter.) Mike replied, “Ron, that goes for you too!” Suddenly it clicked in Ron’s heart and mind that he didn’t have to figure everything out before he trusted in Christ, he just needed to put his faith in what Christ did at the cross. In other words he just needed to believe the gospel which is simply the good news that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again.
The Apostle Paul experienced firsthand the power of the Gospel to transform his life and consequently made sharing the message of the cross the focus of his ministry to others. He wrote to the church at Corinth: “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (I Cor. 25:1-4). Paul reminded them, “When I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (I Cor. 2:1,2).
When Ron came back to work after lunch, for awhile he just sat at his desk staring ahead. He finally turned to me and said, “Dave, guess what I did this noon? I trusted Christ as my Savior.” It was so encouraging to see the changes that took place in Ron—some immediately and others progressively over the next weeks. He realized that much of his worldview was very biblical, but his attitude of animosity toward those who disagreed with him was not. He said that when he asked Christ into his life he also asked the Lord to take away those animosities and God really did. He used to bring The Wall Street Journal and read it before work. He started bringing a Bible and reading it instead, which prompted lots more questions during the day!
Ron realized that he needed to share the Gospel with his wife and two daughters which he did. When we gain eternal life, God gives us a burden to share it with those we love so they can find the same joy and hope for the future that we gained through the transforming power of the Gospel.
A number of years after we moved back to Montana to be involved in full-time Christian ministry, Ron went to be with the Lord (April 26, 1993). His family sent me a copy of the tribute that his daughter Debbie (Herman) wrote for the Memorial Service. What a great testimony to the power of the Gospel. I’d like to share just a bit from her tribute.
“In the last few years, Dad had become very vocal and expressive about his beliefs, and I think for some people, that made them feel uncomfortable. My dad never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable or uneasy, nor did he intend to force people to believe the way he did. But, I think because of what he experienced with the Lord when my Mom died, Dad could no longer keep quiet about God’s goodness and his grace. Dad became God’s messenger, so to speak, and whatever God put on his heart or mind, Dad spoke it. If you knew my Dad at all, you know he was never one to keep quiet when he had something to say (amen!).
“Dad became a Christian several years ago. I was in junior high at the time, and that is when he led me to the Lord. Shortly after that, however, he began to struggle in his walk with the Lord. He experienced a series of ups and downs, and he openly admitted that he was backsliding. He never denied God, he always knew God was there, and he never passed up an opportunity on a Sunday morning campout with the Boy Scouts to share the message of Jesus Christ. God used him in spite of himself, and many boys came to know the Lord through him.
“One of the reasons I think Dad struggled so much in his walk with the Lord during this time was largely due to the type of person he was. He was a leader. He wanted to be in charge and in control at all times. I think this is why he had such a difficult time letting go and letting God have complete control of his life. He knew that if he was going to truly walk with the Lord, he’d have to deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow God 100%, not just a part of him, but all of him. And either he wasn’t quite ready to do that or perhaps he didn’t know how because he was so used to being in control himself. Dad sometimes would say to me, ‘Deb, I know I’m not walking with the Lord like I should, and I don’t know what God is going to have to do to get me where He wants me.’ Well, two years ago, my Dad experienced the heartache of a lifetime when his wife of 34 years, whom he loved and cherished with all his heart, suddenly and unexpectedly died in his arms. The reality of the One who was truly in charge hit him like a ton of bricks. From that moment on, Dad set both feet firmly and securely on the pathway of God’s will for his life. Ron Farrell was no longer in charge. God was. Dad’s favorite verse was Romans 8:28 (‘And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.’). On the day that my Mom died, this verse came to life for my Dad, and it carried a whole new meaning. Immediately, Dad felt God’s loving arms embrace him, the peace of God was on him, and God drew Dad to Himself. There Dad remained, resting securely in God’s hands and allowing Him to guide Dad through days ahead.”
What a beautiful example of the transforming power of the Gospel of Christ. I am so glad that God gave me the privilege and joy of sharing that Good News with my boss, Ron Farrell, some 45 years ago. Obviously it didn’t end with him—Praise the Lord! No wonder Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Ro. 1:16). If someone has shared that Good News with you, don’t keep it to yourself—pass it on!