Story of Mountain Printers
In 1976, after 7 years of marriage, my wife Michelle and I had both been seriously studying the Bible and seeking God's will in our lives. I had a good paying, secure job at General Dynamics in San Diego, California. Michelle was a full time mom to our two children and active in Women's Bible Study Fellowship. Prayer and trying to apply God's Word to our marriage had been drawing us closer together and brought a new contentment into our lives. We had now reached a point though, where we felt there was something "more" and prayed specifically that God would be in control of our lives and take over the driver's seat. We had no idea what He had in store for us; only that we wanted to be obedient to Him.
Shortly thereafter, I received an unexpected lay-off from my job. With 10 years seniority, I had never been laid off before, but I was not fearful. I packed up my things with a sense of peace and expectancy. Michelle felt the same way as me. We had no idea what was ahead of us or how far unemployment would stretch. We didn't know if or when General Dynamics would call me back, but we had complete trust and faith that God had indeed taken over the controls.
The next couple of months was a joyful time of family togetherness and relaxation. Our 2 children, Arthur, almost 5 and Gina, less than 1 year, enjoyed having this extra time with daddy and were young enough to be satisfied with 'freebies' like picnics in the park, trips to the library or playing in the backyard. Meanwhile, rumors circulated that General Dynamics would be calling us back, but we had heard nothing yet. Sometimes Satan would try to fill me with doubt or worry but I felt a very real sense of God's assurance. Even Michelle said that one day while at the kitchen sink she found herself feeling guilty about enjoying this time instead of worrying, and asked God if perhaps she should be looking for a part time job. The immediate answer, in an almost audible voice was, "REST NOW."
One day, Michelle and I were driving out in Spring Valley and decided to stop by a little print shop in the area. The radio club we belonged to owed some money for a recent print job and we thought we could take care of it while we were in the area. The owner, Bill D., was an elderly gentleman in poor health, so the shop was rarely open, but he happened to be in that day. During our conversation, he mentioned that he was planning on selling the shop and that he also had a 1950 Studebaker he was selling for $300.00. He asked if I would be interested in the car, but I explained I had been laid off and it wouldn't be a good idea to spend the money right then. As we left, I told him I might consider buying the car when I went back to work.
Late one rainy night, a week or so later, I received a call from him. He said he wanted me to come over and pick up the Studebaker. I reminded him I was still out of work and couldn't afford it right then. He said he understood, but didn't want some darn kids getting it and turning it into a hot rod. He wanted me to have it as a gift and to come right over and pick it up. I was flabbergasted! I told him I would need to get a tow bar anyway, and for him to think it over carefully and if he still felt that way in the morning, I would pick it up. He told me he didn't need to think about it, and he would see me the next day.
That night I had a strange dream. I was working in that print shop. I was running off stacks and stacks of church bulletins on a small press. It seemed as though I worked all night, and when I woke up the next morning my arms and back were aching from the 'work' I had done all night. I shared the dream with Michelle but then thought no more about it.
Later that day, my Dad and I went out to pick up the Studebaker. Mr. D. was waiting for us. He had boxes filled with old Studebaker parts, accessories, manuals etc. As we loaded everything up, I had a strong feeling I should tell him about my dream. I just ignored the feeling and continued to hook up the car. Again, I felt I should say something but it seemed silly, so we just prepared to leave. At that point, I felt as if I would burst if I didn't speak. I told Mr. D, "I know this sounds silly, but I just have to tell you about the crazy dream I had." I proceeded to tell him about printing up the church bulletins all night. He got the funniest look on his face, and told us to wait a minute. He began rummaging around among the stacks of boxes and junk he had scattered about and finally picked up an old, dusty box. Blowing off the dusty lid, he handed it to me and said, "Here, now you can believe in dreams." Opening the box, I found the very same bulletins I had seen so clearly in my dream! Thanking him again, we went on home. I told Michelle what had happened and she was excited. She was sure it must mean something and thought I should have spent more time talking to the old man. I knew though, if it was of God, it didn't need to be rushed.
During the next week or so I had no peace and felt troubled about what to do. I was unable to sleep. It seemed as if the Lord might be pointing us towards this printing business, but I had no experience as a printer and tried to resist the idea. Growing up as the son of a mechanic, and having served in the army as a military policeman, I knew I could support my family as a machinist, mechanic or in law enforcement, but how could I possibly provide for them in a field I knew nothing about? I had said I was trusting in God, but in actuality, I had trusted in my own strengths. I wrestled with this and finally one night I told the Lord I would be willing to go into the printing business if that was His will for us. I didn't know what would happen next, but knew I had to step out in faith. I secretly hoped the shop had already been sold and didn't think anyone would be in at that late hour, but I called over to the print shop anyway. Mr. D answered. I asked him if he had sold the shop yet, and he said no. I told him I'd like to come over to talk and he agreed.
When I got there, Mr. D was waiting for me. I asked him how much money I would have to borrow to buy the print shop. He said I wouldn't have to borrow any money, but I just laughed as I reminded him I had been out of work for a few months and couldn't even afford to buy his Studebaker. He took me all around the shop, showing me everything he had and said he would sell it to me for only $500. I didn't know what to say. I wasn't much of a businessman, but even I knew you couldn't buy a business for only $500. I told him I would need to think it over and would get back to him. When I got home, I told Michelle what had happened. She said she was sure this was what God wanted us to do and was upset with me that I hadn't immediately agreed to buy it. She was afraid he would change his mind if we waited, but I knew that would have just meant it wasn't God's will after all. I told her I needed more time and we'd talk more in the morning.
That night, I slept like a baby. The next morning, I got up and asked Michelle (she handled the finances) how much money we had left in our savings account. We had just over $500! We talked and prayed, and decided to buy the print shop. The old man was right; we didn't have to borrow any money. The two of us drove out to the shop, where Mr. D was ready for us. He produced a typed list of everything in the print shop, including equipment, stock, and fixtures with their cost. It totaled $3,502.05, but the bill of sale he had drawn up said, "Sold to Bill Spurlock for $500.00." We talked for a while about details and then I signed the papers. That was when the old man said he had something to tell me. My heart sank. This was the catch I was afraid of. But instead, what he said was, "You know, there's another fellow that's been wanting to buy this shop. He offered me $5,000. But I didn't like that fellow, that's why I'm selling it to YOU for $500.00." I was overcome, and all I could say was, "Praise the Lord." Mr. D just said, "The Lord didn't have anything to do with it, this was between me and you." But Michelle and I knew better, and still do.
The old man had promised to stay and train me and show me the ropes. But after only a couple of weeks he left on a trip and we never heard from him again. God himself undertook my training in more ways than one. Sometimes at night when I was frustrated at being unable to make the press work properly, I would close my eyes and see a hand moving a knob this way or that or pressing a lever I hadn't noticed. The next day, I would do what I had seen in my mind's eye and it would work. The Lord was training me to rely on him completely. I was totally out of my element and HAD to trust Him. He either helped me directly as if in a dream or sent people into our life to help and encourage us. He has never let us down or let us be ashamed.
Time has passed and God has been good to us. From the very beginning, we said "God Is Our Partner," and have tried to operate the business as He would want. We have always tried to give the best service and quality we could possibly give, at a reasonable cost. We have not been greedy and God has blessed us and taken care of us.
At first, we had thought we would do only church or Christian ministry printing. But we have seen that is only a part of what we do. We finally realized that if God had just wanted a good printer in the area, He would have taken a good printer and made him better. Instead, he asked for willing vessels and trained us to be printers, in order to serve the area and community in which He placed us. We have tried to be more than just printers, and to be a help and an encouragement to those that come through our door. We aren't preaching on a soap box, but sometimes a customer will ask how we can possibly have hope in such an uncertain world, and we are thankful we can share that hope.
Over the years the business has grown. We outgrew the little shop we were in and took over another little shop next to us, and then another. In 1993, we moved to a larger building across the street, where we still are today. We have expanded from a little hole in the wall to a thriving commercial shop producing 1 to 4 color offset printing as well as high speed copies, and digital printing. We now have customers all over the continental United States which keeps our shipping department pretty busy. Our son Arthur, now grown, expanded our prepress and computer graphics' department and Michelle enjoys doing the typesetting. I no longer have to run the presses, and am able to oversee others, but we still strive to give our best and are happy to share our story and faith in a God who takes a personal interest in everything we do and who can take better care of us than we could ever take care of ourselves. The Lord has performed many miracles in the shop and our lives since then - too numerous to write, but I am always willing to share with anyone who comes in and asks.