Just prior to John’s decision to go to England and seek the counsel of Stephen Olford, an opportunity arose that enabled him to first go to Chicago and visit the Moody Bible Institute, and then go on to England. This required some revisions in their travel arrangements but the timing was changed with little trouble. John was happy to have his father’s companionship on the Queen Mary as it traveled across the Atlantic to England. Needed time was available to John as he thought through decisions that might need to be made as a result of this trip. There was much that he desired of his own father’s spiritual wisdom, yet John realized that his father would be strongly motivated to welcome his son’s decision to leave Canada and come to the Moody Bible Institute. He knew also that Stephen had nothing to be personally gained by giving him God’s unvarnished direction as he understood the Bible. Had God not said, “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light and thy judgment as the noonday” (Psalms 37: 5-6).
Copied from the biography of Stephen Olford and written by John Phillips, he said, “While in England I went to Richmond, a London suburb, to seek counsel from Stephen Olford, who was pastoring there at the time. I put the issues to him. He did not hesitate for a moment. “Go to Moody Bible Institute,” he said. John asked, “What about that infant church in Prince George that I would have to leave?” Stephen replied, “God will take care of that; if it is Christ’s church; if it is your church, the sooner it falls, the better!” Blunt words, but so true! That church still thrives and continues to grow to this day.
John went back to British Columbia, determined to do the will of God, but confident that only He could convince Jean’s heart and mind that it was the right thing to do. So he told her of his visit and counsel with Stephen Olford, and left it there…no argument, no striving to convince her of the will of the Lord.
Jean was a true woman of God, yet this seemed to her a most foolish idea. Moody Bible Institute was not only 3,000 miles away from their home, but it was even in a different country. She had never visited the United States, and their children were finally contented in the far north lumbering country of Canada. Furthermore, what would happen to the budding church they had given birth to? Then, there was the problem of not having an automobile if John gave up his job with the lumbering company…the fact that they had no friends in Chicago…and where would they live? Jean Phillips was very concerned and extremely troubled?
A week or so later, John came home for lunch and Jean was packing. He asked her, “What does this mean?” She answered, “We’re going to Chicago.” God was dealing with Jean’s heart, and though she had said nothing, she had been thoroughly convinced by His Spirit that the Lord wanted John at Moody Bible Institute. John had been a student of the Word most of his life, yet there was so much he didn’t know. At Moody he would be surrounded by wonderful books that could teach him, and professors who would guide him into deeper truths than he could ever have navigated alone. An open door was being offered to him…a realizable dream was emerging from the darkness that only he was aware of…but God knew!
Arrangements were made at the lumbering company, then at the church, and finally with Moody Bible Institute. Soon, John and Jean were allowing hope and expectation to blend into faith that was led by God. John was being personally taught by the Lord to be gentle to Jean, to take care not to “push” her and to let Him deal with her heart in all the matters that caused her great distress.
Later, after all their concerns in Canada had been dealt with appropriately, they were on their way to a new country, a new ministry with John as the Assistant Accountant of the Correspondence School of the Moody Bible Institute, and a much larger ministry than he had ever imagined. They also were destined to live in a very small apartment with John’s parents, Leonard and Ruth Phillips, because there had been so little time search for a house.
There was the problem of in terminal crowding, no automobile with many miles of travel to work, and no hope of going back to Prince George!
Did God foresee any of this? Of course, He did, yet it was all part of the spiritual school of becoming true servants of our Lord Jesus Christ. The great apostle Paul said, “Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4: 6-7).