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May 26, 2008

Every Need Supplied

In 1906, Dr. Forrest was one of the first elected members of the Board of Managers of The Christian and Missionary Alliance. He served on this board most of his life. In 1919 while this group was discussing the site for the National Council, he popped up and said, “Why not bring it to Toccoa Falls?” The men immediately asked, “Could you take care of us?” This was a reasonable question because most remembered that the college had faced a devastating fire six years earlier and had not fully recovered.

Dr. Forrest replied, “Of course. I don’t know how, but we’ll take care of you some way.” At the time he did not realize how great this undertaking would be. On his way back to Toccoa, he was informed that over four hundred delegates would attend Council and that many would come from all across the United States.

Richard Forrest was aware that at the time, there were only three dormitory cottages on the campus, and they were filled with students. Most of the college’s male students were still living in tents! When he told his wife about the commitment he had made, her response was typical of her love for him and the faith she had in his ability to “hear God.” She told him, “We will just have to lay the matter before the Lord in prayer. If this is His idea, He will provide the right solution.” Dr. Forrest admitted that he “felt up against it.” He had made a rash promise and had absolutely no way of fulfilling it.” Still, he believed the Lord had motivated him to make the offer.

A short time later, he walked down to campus and was greeted by several of the students rushing to class. A couple of the boys emerged from their tents laughing and seemed surprised to see him. “They never complain about being in those tents,” he thought. This is when he realized he had hit upon a solution to his problem: he could house the visiting delegates in tents! That way, those who had supported and prayed for the college for years would have the opportunity to experience what life was like at Toccoa Falls College. But how could he make this dream a reality?

He immediately went to see General Fitz-hugh Lee, who was the commander for Camp Gordon. “I’m in a jam up at Toccoa Falls,” said Dr. Forrest. After explaining his situation to the commander, he made his request. “Can you lend me enough tents, cots, and blankets to take care of about four hundred people?” As the words left his mouth, he realized the enormity of his request. On top of this need was an even greater problem: if the commander agreed, how would the supplies reach the college and be assembled?

Dr. Forrest waited for the answer. “Well,” replied the general, “I’ll be dogged! This is the first time I ever heard anyone ask the army to entertain a missionary conference. What can we do for you?” Before Dr. Forrest could ask about the delivery of the items, the general offered a solution. He would order a squad of enlisted men to erect the tents. The soldiers were at the school for several days, pitching tents, setting up cots and fixing everything “in the nicest kind of way.” During that time, two of the soldiers came to know Christ.

The date for Council was early in May. After the members had all arrived, the weather turned bitterly cold. General Lee, remembering that the army was in a sense “host” to a missionary conference, sent another consignment of blankets. Dr. Forrest suddenly realized that he was in touch with an unlimited supply because God was the One who had guided him to agree to this venture.

Later, A. B. Simpson commented along with other board members that the council held at Toccoa Falls was the most meaningful of all they had attended. “Everyone who came to Council was happy and pleased with the novelty of camping out. Everyone had a wonderful time.”

Has God given you an idea but you are waiting to see how it will unfold before you make a commitment to reaching the goal? If you are then you are not living life by faith. The person who is motivated by faith in an omnipotent God accepts the challenge, strikes out on the path, makes the request and believes that God will make a way.

Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to “[Elisha], ‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?’”

“So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O Lord, I pray open his eyes that he may see.’ And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:15-17).

(Taken from the on line devotional book Grace in The Wilderness. Some portions were adapted from the book Achieving The Impossible with God.)