Dr. Jerry Beavan
"Jerry Remembers" ... in which Jerry Beavan, at age 93, recounts events from his experiences in a wide ranging field of endeavors, which include being a college and seminary professor ... a corporate executive in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries ... a federal lobbyist in Washington, DC ... and as Billy Graham described him, "the architect of world evangelism as we know it today."
Now retired and physically handicapped, restricted to a wheel chair, Jerry has been Senior Editor of the weekly American News Commentary, now in its 10th year of publication.
I Remember When I Had a Library
I remember that when I received my Th.M. degree from seminary, and began work on the Th.D. degree, I had the beginnings of quite a good theological library. At about that time I got acquainted with Dr. Wilbur Smith, who was then at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and he taught me how to explore used book stores in search of important and useful volumes. A highly respected bibliophile, he counseled me on how to build my library.
My library grew until it was well over 2,500 books, including several complete sets of systems of theology by some great theologians, and commentaries on all of the books of the Bible—both on the English language Scriptures and on the original language writings—and many other volumes on various aspects of the Christian faith.
It became difficult to house so many books, particularly as we were frequently relocating. Finally, in 1956 as we moved to the Washington, DC suburb of Bethesda, MD, I just didn't unpack the many boxes, but left them stored in the basement, stacked almost ceiling high.
One Sunday afternoon, I had an idea that made sense—I was not using my books, but they should be put to use. I had gotten to know George Miles, president of Washington Bible Institute, who was trying to develop the institution into a Bible college. I thought it would be a good plan to offer my library to his school.
I phoned his office ... was told that he was in a meeting, so I left my number. When he returned my call, I asked him if he would be interested in a library of almost 3,000 books. He asked what the price would be, and I told him I wanted to give them to the school. George made some strange sounds, and when I asked what was the problem, he asked me if I knew where he was when I called. I said they told me he was in a meeting. He said, yes—he was in a prayer meeting with his faculty and staff, praying about their need for books for the library. These strange sounds were because he was moved to tears at this direct answer to their prayers.
The next day several students came to my house, loaded all those boxes into their cars ... and my library was put to a good use. I have to admit that there have been times ... many times ... when I would liked to have had some of those books available, but I am sure it was the right thing to do, because it was obviously what God wanted done.
I knew that, and George Miles knew that.
The British hymn writer, William Cowper, in the 18th century wrote the hymn, God Moves in Mysterious Ways, and the first line was: "God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform." In John 13:7, Jesus said, "What I do, thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter."
There must be a spiritual lesson to be learned from this remembrance, and perhaps it is that there are times and events in our lives when we might think that something is our own idea, but in actuality, it wasn't ours at all, but was the way God had chosen to accomplish His plan.
Looking back, I am certain that I would never have decided, on my own, to give away the library that I had worked for years to build. But my days of preaching and teaching were apparently over, and a new area of ministry was developing. And so I can say, as did Paul, "I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision" (Acts 26:19).