It was December 2008, just a stone’s throw away from Christmass.
I sat in my office that morning, reflecting on a year that broke all of our company sales records. It also broke something else—the cultural lie that truth and morality are relative.
I started WRI Applications LLC in 1984. It is a commercial/industrial roofing company that also specializes in polyurethane spray foam insulation. We have been blessed in many ways over the years, and it is a business that I enjoy, even the challenges. But the final say always belongs to God, and He said something profound that year. Here’s what happened.
2008 was an uncertain time at best. The question of “would there be enough work” lingered in my mind from January to April. We were faced with record fuel costs, daily reports of recession, financial failures around the world and an unprecedented level of American negativity. During April and May, the phone stopped ringing. People weren’t buying.
Then on May, 22 we received a phone call from a hotel in Cleveland, Ohio. They wanted us to bid some work for them and the individual on the phone said that we were "highly recommended" by a spray foam supplier of ours. The job was ours if we wanted it. I listened to his description of the project and gave a ballpark price over the phone, then sent a formal proposal via email. The email came back “undeliverable.”
Since I had the name of the business, I sought (and found) their website to verify their email. I also found something else. The hotel was a homosexual hotel with clients that would come from all over the country in order to “hook up” with partners. The website was blatantly offensive. Now what ??
I talked it over with my employees, and we weren’t sure what to do. So we prayed about it and waited for an answer. The very next morning, I received a call from a contractor in Dayton, OH. We had been "highly recommended" (notice the language) to him for a large spray foam insulation project and would we go look at it? I asked for the name & address and was informed that it was the largest strip-tease club in Dayton. Whoa…
In 24-years, I’d never had this kind of moral dilemma, and now there were two in 24-hours time. Was this a test from heaven? We needed more work at the time, remember? Was this an answer from God? What was His will? Did He want me to try to minister to these people?
We talked it over and again sought the will of God. Right away, I felt the dirty gray temptation of moral relativism. After all, homosexuality is even worse than strip-tease isn’t it? For a fleeting moment, I was tempted to choose between them. But I knew that to be honest of heart we must say “no” to both projects, or “yes” to both.
Then there was the fact that we needed the work, and perhaps this was work that the Lord sent us. Or did He? I only wanted to do His will, but I wasn't clear what His will was.
So I consulted three Godly men that I knew and asked for their advice.
One said “Do it and make it a witnessing tool. You have things that these people need” (my wife and I have a counseling ministry where we help people who struggle with emotional & spiritual issues).
The second man (who had been delivered from the homosexual lifestyle) said “Do not go in those places, or let your employees or your sons go in them. You cannot imagine the vile things that go on in there”
The third man said to “Be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove.” In other words, “You’ll figure it out yourself.” So I had a yea, and a nay and a neutral. Hung jury.
I delayed my decision for four more days, and on May 30 I got up very early and entered my prayer time with God determined not to come out until I had His answer. I began with Psalms 119, believing that the largest chapter in the Bible might contain the answer. There were three things in Psalm 119 that could be construed to go ahead and do the work and three things that suggested to avoid it. I kept reading and praying all the way through Psalm 134. Two hours went by. No answer yet.
I set the Bible down and spent more time in prayer. Deep prayer. Calling out to God for His wisdom. Then I picked the Bible back up, noticing that it had closed when I set it down.
I opened my Bible. It opened to the Book of Haggai. I read this verse:
“Thus saith the Lord of Hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but ye have not enough; you drink, but ye are not filled with drink; you clothe yourself, but there is none warm; and he that earns wages earns wages to put it into a bag with holes.”
I read it again. Conviction filled my heart, and then peace.
I got up and walked to our shop in complete freedom. I shared my decision with the guys and sent off emails to both places, informing them that for moral reasons we chose not to work on their projects. I was kind but firm. I walked away from over a hundred thousand dollars in those two emails. And it didn’t matter.
An hour later, the phone rang. It was a plastic manufacturer from Cincinnati, and they said we had been "highly recommended" to install a roof on their 90,000 ft² plant (the exact language that the other two potential customers had used). Were we interested? Uh...yeah. I sure was.
An hour after that, the contractor who asked me to bid the strip club in Dayton called and asked if I knew of another contractor who would do his work. I gave him some direction to find one and asked how his day was going. He sighed…”Not real good.”
"My 12-year old son had just had a seizure and is in the hospital in Dayton."
I asked him if I could pray for his son. "Would you do that?"
I sure would--prayed for him & his wife too, over the phone. He didn't know what to say but thanked me profusely several times. I was glad to be there for him.
From that day on it seemed like a dam had burst and work just came pouring into our company. Every time I picked up the phone we were getting more work. In the midst of a recession, we had more work than we could possibly handle. We could not contain it all. I hired more men and bought more equipment and we worked harder & longer and still had to turn down over a quarter-million dollars of business. That year broke all company sales records, and more importantly, it broke any temptation to profit from things that deeply wound people’s lives.
I am convinced that God was involved in this trial. I also had two sons who were watching and various employees. What did we learn from this experience?
We learned that truth is not relative. We learned that God’s Moral Law will not be trivialized. He will grant wisdom to those who seek it. And He will honor those who honor Him.
I close with the words that Sam Bacchiocchi’s father said to him when—as a young boy— he was bullied in a Roman school because his family chose to keep God’s Sabbath day. “Stand up for what you know to be God’s truth.”