All of us have been experiencing frustrations and fears about a wide assortment of circumstances over the past several weeks. Many concerns are beyond our individual control. So, what are we to do?

With this in mind I want to share a situation that I always considered to be private. Some years ago, at the request of the former rector of my church, I agreed to discuss my personal experience at one of our services. I ask that you understand that this was not an easy subject for me to discuss then or now, but with your patience and understanding I will tell you about a segment of my life that was exceptionally challenging and hopefully will be helpful for you to face the unknown.

This happened in the economic crash of 1975. At that time, I was president of a wholesale building material firm in Florida with over 50 employees. Our business prior to May 1975 was booming. I had gone to a trade show in Arizona and as always when I was away, I called our office daily to see how our business was progressing. This particular day when I called, I was told our sales had stopped as a result of the housing crash. I was stunned. However, what my controller told me was reality.

I hurried back to Florida and it was evident that we were in the midst of a major crisis. I searched for every conceivable way to reduce our overhead, but found nothing to help us operate at a profitable level. To complicate our situation further, in January 1976 I was in an automobile accident when I collided head-on with a tractor trailer. At the small local hospital that I was taken to, they performed surgery and sewed together my lacerated internal organs. I had been in the Intensive Care Unit for 12 days, when early one morning I had a life-changing experience, a vision of Jesus. I was told that I would survive, and two days later I was discharged.

There is no question the Lord had gotten my attention. Prior to the accident, I had always done everything my way. Without question I was on the wrong track, feeling that if I worked hard consistently, I would be successful regardless of the challenge I faced.

After arriving home and beginning to recover, I began a practice that I had never done previously. I began daily Bible readings along with daily prayers. Within several weeks I was back on the job trying my hardest to turn our financial losses around, but to no avail. My world was falling apart. Then, one August night, I woke up at 4 in the morning with my pajamas soaking wet with perspiration. I got up and went downstairs to our family room and sat in my Lazy-Boy chair. Finally, I started to pray and I said Lord, please hear me, I need your help as my business is collapsing and if I lose all that I have, from now on I will do whatever you want me to do, your way, without hesitation.

Within a very short time I experienced the feeling that a heavy load was being lifted off my back. A few days later I met with my attorney and reluctantly filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. During this period I continued my new spiritual path.

I had only five employees who opted to stay with me as I attempted to find a possible way to function. Our fleet of trucks was gone with the exception of a 14-foot flatbed. I was able to utilize $14,500 from our key man insurance policies for working capital. I wanted to try and develop a plan to operate in a limited manner and try and repay our obligations as much as possible.

After the creditors meeting was over I met with the bank to which I owed over a million dollars and was told that, if we were able to operate, on any account receivables we generated, 100% of the sales when collected would be applied against our loan balance. I was also told that on any cash sales we generated, we could keep 40% of it for operations.

After prayer, I went to 20 of my former accounts scattered across Florida and told each I wanted to try and stay afloat. I then asked each one if they would work with me on a COD basis. I knew this request to be a significant nuisance to any business. I was asked for how long and I said for at least a year. All but one agreed; the one that did not was also in a huge financial hole. Actually, each of those customers worked with me on that basis for a year and a half as we began to regain our footing and began to repay our creditors. During that period I never knew on Monday how I was going to pay my employees on Friday, but I never missed paying each of them timely.

This was the most difficult time in my life as I made sales calls, helped load our truck, and worked weekends at consumer sales. By turning all of our receivables into cash, significantly reducing our inventory; by completing the sale of our warehouse property; and along with our seven years of sales efforts, we repaid the bank our million-dollar loan and our creditors approximately $643,000, and I started my life over again.

There is no doubt in my mind that without the guidance of the Lord and the thoughtfulness and encouragement from my faithful wife that I could never could have achieved this challenge. I look back on this today as the best thing that ever happened to me in spite of our personal financial losses. I hope my story will be helpful to others facing their own crisis.

Another View is a Maine Press Association award-winning column written by Midcoast conservative citizens/writers Jan Dolcater, Ken Frederic, Paul Ackerman, Doc Wallace and Dale Landrith Sr.