I corresponded with Gisela. She had, in the meantime, returned to Germany. I decided I would take two years off from the work to study and make some life choices about my ministry and possible marriage.
I began writing letters abroad and became interested in the possibility of attending a Bible school in England. I also had invitations to speak in churches in Germany. In December I bought an air ticket out of India planning to be in Europe for Christmas with Gisela’s family.
While there I got the first tremors of what soon would become an earthquake-size case of culture shock. As the snow fell, it was obvious to everyone I soon would have to buy a winter coat and boots—obvious, that is, to everyone except me. One look at the price tags sent me into deep trauma. For the cost of my coat and boots in Germany, I could have lived comfortably for months back in India.
And this concept of living by faith was hard for Gisela’s parents to accept. Here was this penniless street preacher from India, without a single dollar of his own, insisting he was going to school but he didn’t know where and, by now, asking to marry their daughter.
One by one the miracles occurred, though, and God met every need.
First, a letter arrived from E.A. Gresham, a total stranger from Dallas, Texas, who was then regional director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He had heard about me from a Scottish friend and invited me to come to the United States for two years of study at what was then the Criswell Bible Institute in Dallas. I replied positively and booked myself on a low-cost charter flight to New York with the last money I had.
This flight, it turned out, also was to become a miracle. Not knowing I needed a special student visa, I bought the ticket without the chance for refund. If I missed the flight, I would lose both my seat and the ticket.
Praying with my last ounce of faith, I asked God to intervene and somehow get the paperwork for the visa. As I prayed, a friend in Dallas, Texas, was strangely moved by God to get out of his car, go back to the office, and complete my paperwork and personally take it to the post office. In a continuous series of divinely arranged “coincidences,” the forms arrived within hours of the deadline.
Before leaving for America, Gisela and I became engaged. I would go on to seminary alone, however. We had no idea when we would see each other again.