God delights in taking seemingly hopeless situations and turning them into miraculous successes. His selection of leaders in the Old Testament demonstrates this principle. The people He chose as His disciples were not people that anyone would have picked for leadership. Choosing Saul, the persecutor of the Christian faith, to become Paul, the author of the most books of the New Testament, is a dramatic example of how God takes ordinary people and does extraordinary things with them.
God is still doing that today! I was preaching at the First Baptist Church in Eufaula, Alabama. The Pastor, Dr. Ken Bush, introduced me to Terry Spence.
When Terry was two-years-old his parents divorced. His great-grandmother took him to raise. She had a very small store in Eufaula. She spent time with him everyday reading the Bible and talking to him about God’s purpose and plan for his life. Her biblical teachings became a part of his thinking process.
At age 14, his great-grandmother’s health prevented her from looking after him. His divorced parents had both moved. This meant at the age of 14, he had to get an apartment and live on his own in Eufaula.
Most folks would tell you that there is little chance that a 14-year-old boy living alone would ever amount to anything. The whole deck was stacked against him. But he had a firm belief in what his great-grandmother taught him about God’s plan and purpose for his life. He was going to follow that dream.
The principal of the high school discovered that he was living by himself and called him into his office. He said that this did not comply with school regulations. Terry indicated that he had nowhere else to live, but wanted to stay in school. The principal said that if he kept up his grades he would overlook the fact that he lived by himself.
Terry got a job at Mann’s Bait Company. When he got out of school at 3:00, he would go and work until 11:00 at night. He would then come home to his empty apartment and do his schoolwork. His grades were superb.
He didn’t mind working hard. He didn’t sit around and feel sorry for himself – he knew that God had a plan for him.
He worked at Mann’s Bait Company for about 15 years. In 1984 he had an opportunity to buy a small business in Eufaula called Southern Plastics. They made soft plastic bait for fishermen.
The first seven years were extremely tough. Nobody gave him a chance to make it in business, but he knew that God had a bigger plan for his life. His whole business philosophy was based on the fact that this business would be used to glorify God. The people who were employed there understood that and God did bless it!
Today Southern Plastics is the largest provider of soft plastic bait in the United States! He is the supplier for BASS Pro Shops, Wal-Mart, YUM, ZOOM, Strike King, etc. He employs well over a hundred people. His business grows every year.
I walked around his business with him. He speaks to every employee, calls them by name, and gives an encouraging word about what God can do with them that day.
I have met a lot of people in life who are on their back and ask for God’s help. When God gives His help and they get back on their feet, they have a tendency to forget who it was that picked them up. Terry Spence always followed God’s dream for his life, and the bigger the business gets, the less credit he takes for the success. Every success makes his business a bigger platform for ministry.
Paul writes, “God purposely chose what the world considers nonsense in order to put wise men to shame…whoever wants to boast must boast of what the Lord has done.” (I Corinthians 1:27, 31 Good News)
God is still in the business of doing extraordinary things with ordinary people who follow His plan!