I praise and glorify the True and Living God, for He has made known His ways and shown His gracious lovingkindness to me. He has fulfilled His tender promise:
“God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.”
Psalm 68:6 (NKJV)
This is my story
When I was twenty years old I hitchhiked to Alaska from San Diego, California. I had learned that the government was giving away land to homesteaders. So off I went.
For six or eight months prior I had studied edible plants and how to build a log cabin and generally how to survive in the wilderness. I bought a Remington grizzly bear rifle, a 7mm magnum which was supposed to stop grizzlies dead in the tracks. This I shipped by UPS to a town in Alaska that was on the Alcan Highway, just across the Canadian border.
It took two weeks to hitchhike. The Alcan can hardly be driven in two weeks. But we got rides with truck drivers traveling at night, with families that were team driving, so we were moving most of that two weeks. I say we. These were my pre-Christ years, before I was saved, and I had a girlfriend who was going to be mountain mamma to this mountain papa.
Our trip began in mid-August. We arrived the first days of September, 1972. It began to snow. I thought to myself, winter is coming (I had always lived in warm climates) maybe I should put off venturing into the wilderness to build a log cabin until Spring comes around again. So both my girlfriend and I found work and a room to rent in a young couple’s home.
It was during that long winter that the Lord used many circumstances to turn first my girlfriend to Himself and a bit later He also turned me. At the request of my parents, and seeking to obey the new found faith in Jesus and the Bible, I honored my parents and returned to San Diego. I thought my girlfriend would also return within a week or so. But in a couple months I received a letter from her letting me know she was getting married to one of the young men in the ministry through which we had both been brought to Christ. I was heartbroken.
In San Diego I continued to do what I had been taught by the Christian ministry that brought me to Christ: read the Bible, pray, go to church. Well, I did all of them except go to church. I did not know what church to go to. And so there I was, day after day, in my large walk-in closet, reading and praying and growing more frustrated by the hour. Nothing was happening. I did not know how to go forward in this new Christian life. I was going nowhere day after day.
One day, in the midst of prayer and Bible reading I was fed up. I said to myself, “I don’t know where this Christian stuff is going. I don’t know what to do, how to go forward, I am going back to what I know." What I had known was surfing and a surfer girlfriend. I got into my green 1964 Econoline surfer van and headed for Ocean Beach, about fifteen miles away. I hoped to find a girl. The first and only girl I spoke to was a beautiful brunet with shapes in the right places. I moved in for the kill! Actually I was quite backward when it came to these sorts of things and really did not know how to go about it. I asked her if she had a cigarette. She laughed and said she did not smoke. But she did not turn away. I don’t remember how our conversation went, but before it was over, she invited me to come to church with her. By this marvelous providence and mercy of God, He set my feet on the path of faithfulness on which I have walked ever since. It was through this same church, Clairemont Assembly of God Church, that I became a short-term (2 months) missionary to Brazil serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators as a construction helper. It was also through that church that I met my friend, Tim who after all these years is still connected to us as a monthly supporter of the International Church Council Project ministry I serve. It was Tim who told me about a Bible College he knew of and took a day of his time and friendship to give me a tour of the college and opportunity to attend classes. It was this same Bible college that I attended for four years, Berean Bible College of San Diego, California, under college President George Evans. I graduated with a Bachelor of Theology and a missionary minor.
I am telling you about the “Anatomy of a loner”. God was drawing me into His family. It was at this Bible college that I, for the very first time, felt like part of something bigger than myself. I was invited by one of the matrons of the church hosting the Bible college to come to a dinner she and friends served weekly for the single men students. I began to FEEL like I was part of this newfound family. By the way, the girl on the beach – we continued friends, but nothing developed further and I eventually attended her wedding at the Assembly of God Church. May the Lord bless her and her children.
While I was in Brazil I fell in love with a young woman serving in the same area as I was stationed. She was serving with Teen Missions. That went nowhere. She told me that I would have to get permission from her father if I wanted to be her friend. This was the strangest sounding thing I had ever heard. I now know what a wise and caring dad she had.
It was not too many days into the first quarter of the next Bible College year that I began to notice a pretty young Filipino girl. She was standing in the hall when I came out of a class. She was nearby as I was getting my break time coffee and donut. Her car was regularly parked next to mine. She showed up on the lawn when I was practicing my guitar. She was ubiquitous! Shirley and I got married the following summer.
Shirley and I were married twenty-one years and had five children together. Christian, who still lives with me, is the youngest of our children. Christian was three when she died from the effects of lupus and the attending medical treatments.
I remained unmarried for five years, and nearly every day, perhaps every day, my heart would cry out, “Lord, where is she for whom my heart longs?!” There were ladies interested in me that did not fit into our family. I approached several others who decided I and my family of five children did not fit with them. Then one day, my friend, and ministry leader, Dr. Jay Grimstead, asked me to go see a missionary, a man who served with his wife in the Philippines. He was in the US, in Sacramento, which was about two hours from where I lived in the Sierra Nevada “foothills” at 3500 feet elevation. We had lunch together. My oldest son Daniel was also with us. During lunch, Joseph, the missionary, learned that I had been married to a Filipina and that she had died. He asked me if I would be interested in possibly writing a young woman in the Philippines as part of my search for a wife. Before I left he gave me a way to write to a young Christian woman. Through this process I eventually met Edna. We wrote for a number of months and in a letter she invited me to come and meet her family in the Philippines. During my visit to the Philippines I asked Edna to become my wife. Edna consented, and then through a number of wondrous providences Edna and I were married and living in my home in the US before six months had passed. Edna and I have six children together.
God could have left me to my Alaska adventure. By now I would surely be a lonely old hermit. In light of God’s goodness to me I want to declare that the Lord has been gracious to me. He delivered me from a life of aloneness to one of being surrounded by a loving wife and precious children. He has taken me from isolation to having many Christian friends across this North American continent, indeed, around the world. “He sets the solitary in families!” I praise this wondrous God who has not left me desolate, but has treated me graciously and kindly and bountifully. Glory to Father, Son and Holy Spirit through our Redeemer Jesus Christ! Amen!
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Whatever pain or difficulty we experience in this life, it is far from what we deserve. I am not saying I am suffering because I deserve it, although apart from Jesus I do. But Jesus suffered on my behalf, and traded his righteousness for my unrighteousness. I no longer deserve punishment, for God made Jesus who knew no sin to become sin for me, that I might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Yet whatever suffering we experience on earth, it is far, far less than we would deserve if Jesus were not our savior. After all whatever we experience here on earth, it is far from experiencing hell. The sun still comes up and I experience many blessings along with the difficulties.
We are grateful for friends who have helped raise money on our behalf–a wonderful display of love and Christian service and a great joy to us. A prayer quilt ministry in Texas learned of my health challenges and they created a quilt especially for me, prayed over it and sent it to me in the mail. When I wrap myself in it I am reminded that the Clingman Family is wrapped in the care of God’s people. We are blessed!
We are at a bit of a dilemma. My Oasis of Hope doctors had hoped I would be able to receive radiation treatment for the brain tumors. They say this is the least harmful of the options. I have discovered now that the radiologist want’s to have a biopsy of the tumor before he will do radiation. The surgeon says that doing a biopsy is so close to completely removing the tumor that he may as well remove the tumor rather than do the biopsy; biopsy or surgery require opening the skull, etc. We had hoped to avoid surgery and remove the tumors by radiation. I have checked with a prominent hospital in California, Loma Linda Medical University, and they say the same thing; a biopsy is needed prior to radiation treatment. So it seems our options are narrowed down to surgery: 1) surgery to obtain a biopsy, or 2) surgery to remove the tumors. Pray for us. Perhaps God will remove the tumors Himself.
How do I feel? Sometimes I am a bit dizzy and most of the time I am very weak. I get tired quickly and have to take naps during the day. My eyesight has gotten better, but still far from what it was. The new oversize monitor helps.
God is good!