From the February 1980 Crafts for Christ Newsletter
A brief introduction to this story is in order. This story was a part of our second newsletter printed in February of 1980. At that point the emphasis of this ministry was crafts. And the banner of the newsletter read “Crafts for Christ”. - a cradle for new ideas. This same story was also a part of the introduction to a craft handbook we published in 1980 which explained the process of making sandblasted signs and using that process to create wooden plaques with many different Scripture verses. The book is now out of print but can be downloaded from this web address: "Crafts for Christ Handbook. It allowed many to learn the process. For quite a few people the craft became an additional hobby; but for a few it became a source of income.
As the years went by the emphasis of the ministry gradually changed. Peter and Rebekah became stretcher bearers for Jesus as will be reflected in the stories that you are able to request and read via our E-mail address. In 1989 the official banner of the newsletter, which is published once in a while and sometimes a little sooner, was changed to read “Stretcher Bearers for Christ". This title fits us now like a comfortable slipper. The legal entity of this ministry, however, is still “Crafts for Christ.” We will now continue with the text from the February 1980 newsletter:
We have many visitors. Some come to learn our craft, some to purchase our signs, and some just to sit and relax and enjoy the beautiful setting in which we live. Invariably we are asked to share the story of our life; where we came from, how Crafts for Christ began, what brought us to Colorado and what our plans are for the future. We never seem to tire of answering these questions. Many have left with new hope and joy. We praise God for the miracle of every changed life. We thank the Holy Spirit for causing us to remember those things that seem to be most helpful and interesting for our visitors. We thank our Lord for making Himself so real to us and our visitors as we share our life and His life with them.
January 1970, was the turning point in my life (Peter’s life) and a good place to begin this account. I had been happily married for 13 years, was the father of two fine boys, and both my wife and I had been successful in our careers - both in the computer field. What happened on Wednesday morning, January 28th, 1970 was a total surprise to everyone. It was my practice to start each day with 50 laps in our patio pool. The alarm was set for 5:30 AM when I would throw back the covers, jump out of bed and headed for the pool. Those first few minutes in the cold water were the hardest. After that I was numb all over and was able to swim my laps without any problem.
On Wednesday morning, January 28, 1970, something very unusual happened as I began my laps. Over me descended a gentle and pleasant feeling one might compare to small electrical waves. The waves began at the top of my head and then flooded my entire body. This experience lasted for the duration of my time in the water - about 20 minutes. When I stepped out of the water I began to sob like a baby. I cried and cried, and with each tear my whole being started to relax. It seemed as if the accumulated tension of a lifetime was being released all at one time. Some “Power” greater than myself had come over me. I did not understand what had happened, but it seemed all right. I felt new and clean and whole.
I had not cried for 17 years. In August of 1953 I went through a severe spiritual and emotional crisis while serving in the U.S. armed forces overseas. At that time I convinced myself that pain was like an unwelcome intruder and to be avoided at any cost. I proceeded to seal off the feeling part of my nature and to let my mind and will direct my life. Every decision that I made between 1953 and 1970 was affected - my career, the choice of my mate, my entertainment, my friends. As I look back, I can see that for 17 years only one half of me was alive.
A few days later, on February1, 1970, I suddenly awoke in the middle of the night. I felt compelled to go to the family room, kneel at a footstool and say “The Lord’s Prayers.” This was totally against my nature. I had belittled any display of religion and carefully avoided those who attempted to convert me to their own particular kind. I made repeated attempts to say the entire prayer but was never able to get past “Thy will by done.”
Finally I asked in my spirit, “Lord, what is Thy will for my life?” This was the key that unlocked a vision that lasted for three hours, as best as I can remember. It was an awesome experience. I thought that I would lose my mind, so terrifying were some of the things I saw. I have shared the details of the vision with others, but I believe that these are things that cannot be shared with everyone.
The next evening I had a fainting spell. When I regained consciousness, I was on the psychiatric ward of a hospital. I spent three weeks in the hospital. It was long enough for me to know that I could never go back to my former profession. I promised God to let Him use me to alleviate the terrible mental anguish of the mentally ill. How and when that might happen, I did not know. Psychiatrists and therapist tried for over a year to reconstruct my old personality. Apparently the word “conversion” was foreign to their training. The diagnosis of schizophrenia was given to me and many others who have had a sudden and dramatic change in their personality. I desperately tried to convince the doctors that what happened to me was an act of grace - the unmerited favor of God - but to no avail.
In may of 1971 the last link that connected me with my former life and wife was cut. Like so many others, I experienced the agonizing pain of divorce and the loss of my children. I felt like Moses might have when he was unwilling to bend to the rule of Pharaoh and was exiled from Egypt.
“Into the blistering wilderness of Shur, the man who walked with kings now walks alone: torn from the pinnacle of royal power, stripped of all rank and earthly wealth, a forsaken man without a country, without a hope, his soul in turmoil. Like the hot winds and raging sands that lash him with the fury of a taskmaster’s whip, he is driven forward, always forward, by a God unknown or a land unseen; into the molten wilderness of Zin, where granite sentinels stand as towers of living death to bar his way.
“Each night brings the black embrace of loneliness. In the mocking whisper of the wind he hears the echoing voices of the dark, his tortured mind wondering if they recall the memory of past triumphs or wail foreboding of disaster yet to come. Or whether the desert’s hot breath has melted his reason into madness. He cannot cool the burning kiss of thirst upon his lips, nor shade the scorching fury of the sun. All about is desolation. He can neither bless nor curse the power that moves him, for he does not know from where it comes. Learning that it can be more terrible to live than to die, he is driven onward through the burning crucible of desert, where holy men and prophets are cleansed and purged for God’s great purpose. Until at last, at the end of human strength, beaten into the dust from which he came, the metal is ready for the Maker’s Hand.”
Subconsciously I seemed to be drawing a parallel between the time of Pharaoh and our modern 20th century when I saw the movie “The Ten Commandments” directed by Cecille B. DeMille in the Spring of 1972. It seemed as if some of the same cruelties and excesses are being repeated today. I was deeply stirred as I saw the film and allowed the story to give direction and clarity to my life.
I praise God for sending His Holy Spirit to continually guide and teach me during these very difficult years of my life. It is only by the Grace of God that I am not in a small cell with many others today. For the pain of losing the love and respect of wife and children and peers can cause a man to think many dark thoughts. But I harkened to the voice of the Lord who said, “Vengeance is mine,” from Romans 12:19.
My journey through the dark corridors of life has not been in vain. Now I know that there are many who have slipped into prisons of despair and bitterness and confusion. I have walked past their cells and have heard the chorus of their despair.
But my God is true to His Word. In my darkest hour His Word became life and light to me. He let the words of the psalmist David become my inheritance also. “For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Now I know that “All things work together for good to those who love God.” (Romans 8:28).
My life became a twisted, terrifying and fearful experience when I was cut off from my family. I nearly bled to death. I felt like the stump of a tree that had lost its crown. (Daniel, chapter 4). It was as if the very foundation was ripped from beneath me. When I fell, I broke into many pieces. But I kept on going, driven by an unexplainable determination to expose the terror that strikes by night and the arrow that flieth by day.
My God was full of grace and tender mercies when my house of cards collapsed. He caused me to see that I had built my house on shifting sand, the unpredictable whims of our human nature. He caused me to understand that we must not hold onto family, friends or position for security, but to Him and Him alone. Praise Jesus!
Only then, He led into my life a woman acquainted with sorrow and grief, yet who was not .scarred by bitterness or revenge, for she knew and loved Jesus first. She became my handmaiden and her children became our children. Her need was not to shine, but to love and obey her Lord. I praise God for the gift of her love and her obedience to the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. When I asked her to become my “Shepherd Girl,” she replied with words Moses might have heard after he was exiled into the land of the Midianites.
THE SHEPHERD GIRL
“Our hands are not so soft, but they can serve.
Our bodies not so white, but they are strong.
Our lips are not perfumed, but they speak the truth.
Love is not an art to us, it is life to us.
We are not dressed in gold and fine linen;
strength and honor are our clothing.
Our tents are not the columned halls in Egypt;
but our children play happily before them.
We can offer you little;
but we offer you all we have.”
Many veils have been removed from my eyes since I can confess with the apostle Peter, “Thou Art the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” from Matthew 16:16. With Christ I have determined to step once more into the arena of life. “ - to set at liberty them that are bruised.” I believe that my Lord has called me to bring healing to the home, healing to the many bruised relationships within members of the same family - His family. Happy hands pledged and working to the glory of God cannot be raised in anger against one another.
The question that still remains unanswered is: “How did Crafts for Christ get started?”
It had become my heart’s desire to be a counselor for Christ. My desire and enthusiasm was unlimited; but my formal education was not enough to satisfy the state requirements. Although I do not disparage the value of formal and intensive training, I believe as many others do, that the Holy Spirit in us is the real Counselor. This belief was shared by two local churches of our community who permitted me to begin counseling under their auspices in January of 1975.
Shortly after I began, the idea of having a counseling sign came to me. I shared the idea with my friend John Allen, who was skilled and talented in making signs. We discussed several alternatives and decided to try something new - a “sandblasted sign.” My friend researched the technique, designed the sign and together we went to work. My friend did the lion’s share of the work while I primarily watched.
Everyone was delighted with the results. Before long I considered applying the idea to little plaques starting with “EASY DOES IT,” “THIS TWO SHALL PASS” and “ONE DAY AT A TIME.” These are sayings used by Alcoholics Anonymous. They were brought to my attention by one of my counselees whose husband had joined this group. Before long, I could see the therapy inherent in crafts and began to use the making of signs as therapy and as a bridge between people. I myself was able to cope with tension much more easily by expressing what I felt through making signs. Others who tried it obtained similar results. Suddenly and unexpectedly we sold a little sign which said, “Yes, Lord.” I was overjoyed. I continued to counsel, but spent more and more of my available time in making signs and dreaming up new ideas.
One Day we were invited by Harald Bredesen, author of the book “Yes, Lord”, to display our work at the Christian center where we attended. The response was beyond all expectations. This was in August of 1977. We were subsequently invited to teach a class, and again, the response was beyond expectations. This gave the momentum to our first Crafts for Christ handbook and the desire to share this ministry with others.
The future is full of promise. Almost daily we have an opportunity to share with someone what we have learned or receive a letter of thanksgiving from a happy sign maker. New ideas tumble forth from all directions. We can see boy’s ranches, schools, hospitals and prisons incorporate this craft into their programs. We can see self-respect restored to those who have been idle and unproductive for long periods of time. We can see homes healed and new gifts under the Christmas tree.
How we came to Pagosa Springs, Colorado is a chapter all by itself. We invite you to come and visit us and let us share this story in person. The story will be framed by majestic mountains, a picturesque lake and golden sunsets.
We are a joyful family in Christ. Jesus brought us together from different corners of the world. Both my wife and I had to learn many difficult lessons in different parts of the world, before we knew that Jesus held the only valid answers to life’s problems. I was born in Bensheim, Germany, my wife Rebekah in Saginaw, Michigan; but she spent her growing up years in Hawaii. Our daughter Heather was born in Sasebo, Japan, and our son Daniel was born in Long Beach, California. As the head of this household, I now know that I am responsible to God for my family’s well being. I consider this a privilege, a challenge, and a sacred trust. Today there are only four in our family. One day - when bruised and broken relationships are healed again, I pray that this family will be much larger.
“But what has happened to counseling,” one might ask? “Does counseling still carry a high priority amongst your other activities?” The answer is a strong “Yes”.
Counseling is now a part of the very fabric of life, delicately woven into each day’s activity, the overriding consideration in all our plans. However, the frenetic drive, born during a time of great anguish, has been replaced by the confidence that God has everything under control. New insights have taught me that Jesus is the true Counselor, and that the Holy Spirit will bring the words of Jesus to our remembrance at just the right time. (John 14:26). He will use anyone in this capacity who makes himself or herself available as His instrument.
Jesus’ Stretcher Bearer, Peter D. Laue
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All writings by Peter, the Lord's Scribe and Storyteller and all paintings by Rebekah, the Lord's artist are copyright free.