Shifting direction requires more time and space for some. The Willis Brothers made popular a truck-driver song, Give me Forty Acres and I’ll turn this Rig Around. For others, like Leonard Coote, redirection happens in an instant – a one-eighty. Tweakings, adjustments come as life moves forward. Still, the word radical characterizes Leonard’s shift. Peace displaced the turmoil of past days.
He felt genuinely reborn. “Joy flooded my being as I realized I was now a child of God. Everything was different. The very leaves on the trees the next morning had a different tint. . .”
Impassioned by the love ignited within him he wasted no time sharing with others. Sending away for, then hand-delivering, thousands of Japanese-language tracts in the market-place grew to a passion. Prayer, Scripture, Community, Worship – each of these anchored him. Fulfilling his five-year commitment to the company that had brought him to the Far East, he resolved to remain. Now as a missionary.
My Bible College years informed, stirred and strengthened my conviction to work overseas. The school library, its biographies of men and women yielding themselves in service, added to my stirrings. Accounts of America’s first missionary, Adoniram Judson, who with his wife, ventured off to Burma. Stories of five young missionaries speared to death by members of an Ecuadorian people group, a remote tribe the young men and their wives had sought to reach with words of life and hope. Other inspiring biographies.
And there was Leonard Coote. Upstart businessman-turned-missionary. I met him just once, shortly before his death. By then Leonard had served more than fifty years in the Far East and a good number elsewhere.
Among Leonard’s passions was training. He launched the founding of three Bible colleges. One in Japan, the second in Korea. Leonard opened his third training center in 1942 in San Antonio, Texas. International Bible College, my alma mater.
©2017 Jerry Lout