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Lowell Brueckner

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What Our Hands Have Handled, chapter ten







Lowell Brueckner family
I was fourteen-years-old when three friends dropped in to visit us in our home in Jacksonville, Florida. There was a married couple - the husband was a graduate of the Mokahum Indian Bible School near Cass Lake, Minnesota, where my dad had been principal. The graduate married one of his ex-teachers. Traveling with the couple was the former Dean of Women of the school. Because it was New Year’s Eve, these three, Dad and Mom took time to pray together and seek the Lord. I was also present.

Most of the words and events of that night are foggy in my memory, but I do recall the former student praying for me. What transpired took me totally by surprise. I had an experience, which seemed, if not as mighty, to be similar in kind to that described by Charles Finney in his autobiography: “The Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me, body and soul. I could feel the impression, like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed, it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love; for I could not express it in any other way. It seemed like the very breath of God.” The former Dean of Women, a quiet, unassuming individual, said that at that moment, she had a revelation of me singing and playing my guitar before dark-skinned people.

I attribute any success that might be credited to my account to the reality of the workings of the Holy Spirit in and through my life. I learned to become dependent upon Him for lasting, eternal fruit. I cannot fathom, nor find any justification in scripture, for the declaration of the gospel by efforts of men, without clear demonstrations of the power of God at work. According to the Bible, it is to be the norm, not the exception. I list here a few, key verses: “You shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you and you shall be witnesses…unto the uttermost parts of the world.” (Acts 1:8)

“After it was at first spoken by the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” (Hebrews 2:3-4)

“And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” (1 Cor. 2:4)

“Does He then, who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” (Galatians 3:5).

“For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” (1Thess. 1:5)

“It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven – things into which angels long to look.” (1 Peter 1:12) Nothing is so firmly established in the pages of holy writ, but that God’s work is to be done under the supervision and the enabling dynamics of the Spirit of God.

In 1965, I was in Mexico “singing and playing my guitar before dark-skinned people.” My wife, Margaret, and I married in Mexico and lived there until 1979. Eight children (the first were twins) were born to us during that time. Our place of labor was far south of the border and deep in the tropics of the State of Oaxaca.

The first five years on the Costa Chica were the most crucial in my life. Living alone in a town without electricity, largely cut off from the outside world, with no one but God to assist in times of trouble, He became very real. We experienced the full force of the spiritual world and the Bible seemed to come alive before our eyes in the situations we faced. We were enrolled in the school of the Spirit.

It was not long after settling into a town called Cacahuatepec that I was faced with a dilemma. A man, curious to know something of the new foreign residents, who had come to live in his village, accepted our invitation to come into the house for a little talk. I shared the word of God and some personal experiences with him. He told me that he wanted his family to hear these words, his daughter especially, who was sick and could not leave her bed. He asked me to come to his home. I had another engagement that day, but promised that on the following Tuesday, I would pay him and his family a visit.

Tuesday came and on that morning, I arose with the purpose of keeping my promise. It was not until then that it dawned on me; the man had not given me his name or told me where he lived in this town of 3,000 inhabitants. I imagined that he would not go to his field to work that day, but would be awaiting my arrival. I knew there would be disappointment, if I did not come, and could also predict, there might be some talk around town of the stranger’s failure to keep his word. There was a local expression to describe such a person. It was said that he was, “del pico para afuera.” – “from the beak (or lips) outward”. In other words, there was no substance behind his words.

I felt, our future and the gospel’s in the area depended on establishing a reputation of trust and reliability. I prayed quite desperately, “God you’ve got to help me find this man!” Then, I did what I have since often recommended that new candidates for God’s service should do. I put one foot in front of another and walked down the street. I have learned that you seldom make progress by sitting at home, waiting for a word from heaven.

I do not know, only God does, why I walked in the direction that I did or why, after a ways, I turned in another direction. Finally, I was on a path, which divided before a barbed-wire fence. Inside the fence was a humble adobe house and a woman was hanging clothes on a vine stretched between two trees. Her back was to me, but I felt it was time to ask some kind of direction. What could I ask, without a name or address? The question was not very definitive, but it contained all the information I had. “Excuse me, lady. Do you know a man, who has a daughter who is sick?” The woman turned around with a smile on her face. “Pase, Señor!” she exclaimed, “My husband and daughter are in the house waiting for you!” God had led me directly to the destination. Such experiences were actually quite commonplace.

The town hall, where four of our children's birth records
 are registered in Cacahuatepec, as it is today.
The first opportunity to share the gospel in a Mixtec Indian village came because of a tract drop. In those early days on the coast, the difficulty of making contact with people throughout the area was partly overcome by visiting those who responded to literature that fell into their hands from an airplane. Two pilots, one a World War II veteran with an ancient Stinson, landed on the dirt airstrip outside Cacahuatepec with ten thousands of gospel papers. Our address was stamped on them and the task began. I will not take time or space to describe the nausea and soreness that comes from hours of tossing tracts, several at a time, out an airplane window, while the pilot is making serious maneuvers to skim as closely as possible above the villages.

Days later, we received a crude letter in halting Spanish from San Juan Colorado. I followed two worn truck tracks and crossed three or four streams without a bridge to arrive in Mixtec country. I found the man, who had written to us, and he soon gathered neighbors and relatives outside his house to listen to what I had to say. I opened my Bible and talked to about fifteen blank faces. They understood almost no Spanish. However, I returned week after week to repeat the performance. Just as I described above that one has to walk if he wants to get anywhere, so if he expects to communicate the gospel, one has to open his mouth and talk.

After several trips and attempts in the village, one day in December there was a new, young man in the group. Again, I shared the gospel message by faith, hoping someone would grasp a little of the story. This time, when I shut my mouth and Bible, the young man stood, turned towards the rest and talked at length in Mixtec. When he finished, several men stepped forward in front of me. “I just explained your message to them,” he said. “They want to receive Christ into their lives, as you instructed. So do I.” The young man had learned Spanish studying in Mexico City and was home for Christmas holidays. After that day, the gospel spread throughout San Juan Colorado and local leadership developed. The last I knew, there were close to 200 believers attending the meetings.

We spent five years in Cacahuatepec and then moved to the small city of Pinotepa, population 15,000. Our intent, as always, was to share the gospel and see groups of believers form in the city and surrounding area. This led us one day to the town of Mancuernas, only a few miles west of Pinotepa. We went to the mayor, looking for permission to hold a meeting. We found him sick, with a serious case of mumps. We talked of the power of the gospel and then had prayer with him. As we walked out the door, a man sitting on the porch arose. He was noticeably drunk, but respectful. “Do you know why I’m drunk?” he asked, not expecting an answer. “My wife has been seriously ill. The doctor left our house today and said that she will soon die. All our family has gathered. I heard the things you said to the mayor inside and I want you to come with me and pray for her.” Of course, we did. The house was jammed with people, watching as we knelt by the dying lady’s bedside. We arose and then left Mancuernas.

Returning a week later, we found that the whole village was talking about the woman, who, after the evangelists had prayed, got off her deathbed and was now perfectly well. A strong church came into being and continues to this day. A former cantina singer and drinker, who had had more than one shoot-out with the local police, leads it. He was on the brink of suicide, when he found the Lord Jesus. Peace filled his heart, as he knelt in his cornfield, having heard the gospel in one of our meetings.

We lived seven years on the Costa Chica. I began to feel strongly that we should do something no one had ever done in the State of Oaxaca – broadcast a daily gospel program over public radio. I was hesitant, though, to leave the coast. Standing on a hill overlooking town, I prayed, “Lord, I don’t think the leadership is strong or mature enough to continue on its own.” He seemed to say to me, “Remember the state of the people I left behind”. My attention was directed to the last verses of the Gospel of Mark: “He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart….and he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’” I was amazed to see that in one breath, he was rebuking them for their lack of spiritual strength and maturity and in the next, he dumped the whole future of the gospel on their shoulders. Again, the Lord seemed to speak, “My confidence was not in them, but in the power of the Holy Spirit.” When I returned to the coast for a conference, only six months after having moved to the capital of the State, I found that the work had increased significantly in strength and number.

The old hymn states, “And He walks with me and He talks with me”. How definitely can God speak to us? How many people who have sung that song would be shocked if they ever clearly heard the voice of the Lord? After settling into our new location, I was sitting in front of our home talking to the Lord about a financial need of $500. I thanked Him beforehand for supplying it.

I can take you to a spot on the sidewalk, a block from the post office in Oaxaca City, where I heard the Lord’s voice, two or three days afterwards. I opened the car door and had one foot on the sidewalk, when He said to me, “Go to the post office. The $500 is in your box.” There I found one envelope from a dear friend and inside was a check for $500.

A daily radio program on the most powerful station in Oaxaca City involved considerable expense, far above our meager income, but my dad taught me to live and move by faith. I had also read the books of George Mueller and Hudson Taylor, among others, describing a life of complete trust in a God, who cannot fail. It became our policy, as it was theirs, never to make our needs known, whether they were personal or ministerial. God often directed and encouraged us into certain fields of labor, indicating His will by giving His supply.

I flew to the coastal city of Puerto Angel (the Lord gave us an airplane), because a new radio station was being constructed. Having lived on the coast, I knew that during daylight hours, one could turn on the radio and get nothing but static. That new station would broadcast the only signal, which could be received for at least twelve hours a day. We had to have a program on that station. I played a tape for the manager and he liked it. We signed a contract and I left a month’s supply of tapes with him.

There was one hang-up. He wanted the first month’s payment in advance and I had no money in my pocket or in the bank. I strongly advise no one to copy what I then did. I wrote out a bad check, knowing that it would take a few days for it to arrive at my bank. I hoped to find some way, I knew not how, to cover the check by that time. My wife picked me up at the airport and I had been home around an hour, when a young man appeared at the front gate. He said that a veterinarian from a city three hours away had left him at our door, while he conducted business downtown. This youth was instructed to give me an envelope and inside it, I found the money to cover my check. The veterinarian was a Christian friend, but he had never before given us an offering.

I suppose, I spoke in almost every evangelical church in Oaxaca City, at one time or another. Our broadcasts were very popular and the local churches were free to make announcements, without charge, of special events. I tried to encourage united prayer among the pastors. In the course of time, they began to work together towards a project, which had never before been attempted in the State and rarely anywhere in Mexico. They wanted to bring in a Billy Graham associate evangelist and conduct tent meetings on a major public square. The problem would be to obtain the necessary signature of the State governor and that would not be a politically expedient thing for him to do.

Shortly before the pastors went to him with the petition, a friend and I made a plane trip to Guatemala. On the return trip at the border, we landed to eat lunch and I noticed the governor’s plane parked at the airport. Nearby, we found a restaurant and the governor’s pilot, whom I knew personally, sat inside with two dinner companions - the governor and his secretary. I went to greet him and he introduced me to them. As we ate, they arose, said “adios”, and left the restaurant. Out the window, I watched the governor’s plane taxi toward the runway, but a few minutes later, it returned.

The pilot had removed the cowling and was fiddling with the engine, by the time we finished our meal. As we walked towards him, he said to me, “I have engine trouble and I need to ask you a favor. Would you please fly the governor and his secretary back to Oaxaca?” For two and a half hours, the governor was exposed to the gospel. We also placed our plane at his disposal for any social need or emergency. A few days later, when the pastors placed their petition before him, he signed. Nightly, five thousand people filled the tent and the special music and messages were broadcast live over the same station that aired our program.

In 1979, even though experiencing these kinds of blessings, I began to have indications that we were to move to Europe. I felt the Lord wanted us to live in Germany and from there try to penetrate into the communist countries. We spent seven interim years in the States, before making the move.

The first years in Europe were some of the most trying that I have ever experienced. The German language was difficult to learn and I no longer had a fresh, ready mind. There were few doors opening to us. Western Europe is in the “post-Christian era”, it has been said. I remembered the good years in Mexico and the evident blessing of God upon the ministry. I began to doubt whether the Lord had indeed called us away onto this very spiritually cold continent. I became discouraged and found a job working in a meat factory, where I labored for 2 ½ years. I felt very low in my spirit, but kept a Bible in a cabinet and at every opportunity I would take it out and read a verse or two. As I worked, I would mull over the passage and God opened much truth to my heart and mind.

We began to hear of the political stirrings in Poland, as it moved towards democracy. Other countries followed Poland’s example and Eastern Europe went into upheaval. One day the impossible happened. The Berlin wall fell! Who would have believed it? The communist countries opened wide to the West and soon a ministry opened to me that I never could have dreamed possible. The reality of God that we had experienced in Mexico and the revelations received in the German meat plant found expression, ministering to people schooled in atheism. We have seen many turn to the Lord in former Communist Europe. There is no question now of His call and timing, in fact, I feel I have just found the purpose for which I was born.

Repeatedly, I listened to my dad share the wonderful stories that sprang from an intimate relationship with God. He was surprised that many Christians were amazed at his accounts. He thought that his experiences were normal for Christian living. Unfortunately, it was not so, but believe me, it can be. “Would that all God’s people were prophets,” said Moses and I am sure, he was expressing the desire in the heart of the Lord.

This is by no means a comprehensive report. In order to reduce this testimony to a very few pages in one chapter, I have had to condense and leave much untold. These few stories have been written to whet the appetite of God’s people, just as mine was, as I read the biographies of those who stepped out to serve God by faith. I hope that you will “taste and see (for yourself) that the Lord is good.”





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