IF THEY MADE IT, YOU CAN TOO – 3 (R.G. and Evelyn LeTourneau)

IF THEY MADE IT, YOU CAN TOO – 3 by Pastor Shah, Clearview, Henderson

If They Made It, you can make it tooWe are in our series through Romans 13 titled, IF THEY MADE IT, YOU CAN TOO.” So far we have seen 2 couples in history and how they made it by the grace of God. The first was the hardheaded couple – Martin and Katie Luther and the second was the couple where both had a thorn in the flesh – Charles and Sussie Spurgeon. This Sunday morning we will look at the third couple in history that made it by the grace of God. Our message is titled – “WHEN BANKRUPTCY BRINGS A BLESSING.”

Romans 13:8-10 8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Overall Background: Listen to verse 8 once again – Owe no one anything except to love one another. Meaning: Don’t be in debt to anyone when it comes to financial obligations. At times you may have to take out a loan but do all you can to pay it back as quickly as possible. But, there is a debt that you cannot pay back. No matter how many payments you make on this account, you’ll still be behind on your payments. No matter how much you double up your payments, you’ll still have an outstanding balance. It is your love deficit towards others. It is on the love you owe to people. You’ll never be able to catch up on that account. You’ll never be able to burn the mortgage.
Applications: We’ve often heard the statement – “No one owes you anything.” That is true in a sense. Everyone is responsible for his or her actions and consequences. At the same time, there is one thing that we do owe others and that is love. If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, you can no longer walk through life saying – “It ain’t my problem.” Just like the Good Samaritan, you stop to help those who are in need. You go above and behind in helping those who cannot help you in return. We have so much to learn here.

LeTourneau Big Tires

This morning we are looking at the marriage of R.G. and Evelyn LeTourneau. Now, who were they? If you’ve heard me preach on faith, I’m sure you’ve heard the name R.G. LeTourneau. Let me tell you a few things about this man:

– He is known as the “Dean of Earthmoving” – one of the greatest inventors of heavy equipment.
LeTourneau Tree Crusher1– When he started his business in 1921, in just two years he was $100,00 dollars in

debt. But over the next 18 years, his business grew to $10 million dollar with 4 factories and 3000 employees.
– His heavy equipment has been used around the world to clear land and build highways, dams, reservoirs, and everything big you can imagine.
– During World War II, 70 percent of bulldozers and engineering vehicles were LeTourneau’s inventions, even some of the machinery that carried our men to the shores of Normandy.
– He was responsible for as many as 300 patents.LeTourneau Snow Machines – His huge mobile offshore drilling platforms are used for drilling oil in the seas around the world.

– He founded LeTourneau University and supported many colleges, even the one that Nicole and I attended.
LeTourneau Drilling Platform– Besides leading his own company, he was also the president of the Christian Business Men’s Committee (CBMC) and president of the Gideons International.
– Each week he travelled thousands of miles, giving his testimony all over the world.
– He died in 1969 but his company is still in business today and his legacy R.G. LeTourneau 1continues.
What many people do not know was that he was married to Evelyn. Life had not been easy for them. Both of them knew what it meant to be bankrupt and what it meant to be blessed. They understood that they were stewards of what God had given to them. Let’s look at them. I will divide this message in the same outlinethat R.G. himself gave about his life. He said that his life had been through four bankruptcies.


R.G. LeTourneau (Young)

They both grew up in Christian homes and received Jesus Christ as their Savior.For R.G. it was harder than Evelyn. Although R.G. had good godly parents, he was rebellious from the get go. One time his father told him to get more water from the well. He was so mad because it was more work than his brothers had done that he decided to draw all the water out of the well till it was dry! Another time he was told to chop some wood. He didn’t want to so he decided to chop the fence post as well. At 13 years of age he even ran away from home. He went to church and heard a lot about God but still wasn’t saved. One night at the age of 16 God got a hold of R.G. Listen to his words: “No bolts of lightning hit me. No great flash of awareness. I just prayed to the Lord to save me, and then I was aware of another presence. No words were spoken. I received no messages. It was just that all of my bitterness was drained away, and I was filled with such a vast relief that I could not contain it all. I ran to my mother. “I’m saved,” I cried. “It happened. You don’t have to worry about me any more. I have felt the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.” From that point on he had a Know-So salvation.

Young Evelyn LeTourneauThis did not mean that all his problems were gone. He had some terrible accidents – fell off a motorcycle and bruised himself terribly, got caught in a grease fire while working in the pit under the car, broke his neck in a car race. Then he met Evelyn. She was some years younger than him and her father was not ready for them to be married. So they decided to elope. They fled in his Saxon Roadster across the border to Tia Juana, Mexico. Needless to say, her father was angry and filed kidnapping charges against R.G. What a rocky start! Although they came back and the charges were dropped, Evelyn’s father did not speak to R.G. for 7 years! One day he came over to the shop were R.G. was working and held out his hand and said – “All right, Bob, You’re all right, and my daughter is all right, and my grand-children are all right. I’m the one that’s wrong in holding a grudge. You want to shake hands with me?” And R.G. nearly broke his arm shaking it!

Application: In many homes people are still holding a grudge for what took place last week or last year or ten years ago. Instead of standing as a hedge of protection for our children, we act as a hedge of thorns.
Why do I share this? Sometimes we see people who are successful and think they have it made. The only thing we have it made is our salvation.

So, they had a rocky start to their life together but they both knew Jesus as their Savior.


Evelyn and R.G. worked together to make ends meet. Evelyn was keeping the house and taking care of a small vegetable garden. R.G. had gone into car sales and service business with a friend, which they called Superior Garage in Stockton, California. It was supposed to be a 50/50 partnership. The business was doing really great. About this time World War I came and R.G. joined the naval yard. He almost died when the Spanish influenza broke out killing thousands of people. War ended and their first son was born. R.G. was not prepared for what was about to happen when he went back on the first day to the Garage. His friend told him that they were bankrupt. He couldn’t believe it. How could that be?! Other garages were growing and set for the big car boom of 1919-1920. Everyday there was another bad news – another creditor who needed to be paid, another deal that didn’t work out. It wasn’t long before R.G. knew that his friend had a bad habit and had run the business into the ground.


But that wasn’t the worst of it. One night he returned from the garage and Evelyn was pacing the floor. The Spanish influenza had been raging through Stockton, especially among little infants. Few days later their baby died. Listen to R.G. words: “I held Evelyn, but when I could find words, it was to God that I addressed them. ‘What’s wrong? What have we done that we should be so punished? We’ve worked hard. We’ve tried our best to be Christians. Oh, where have we gone wrong?” That night, while we were still numb with sorrow, the answer came to me. ‘My child,’ the Voice said, ‘you have been working hard, but for the wrong things. You have been working for material things when you should have been working for spiritual things.’ The words were few, but the meaning ran deep. All that long night I reviewed my past, and saw where I had been paying only token tribute to God, going through the motions of acting like a Christian, but really serving myself and my conscience instead of serving Him. Instead of being a humble servant, I was taking pride in the way I was working to pay my material debts at the garage, while doing scarcely a thing to pay my spiritual debt to God.”

God did not cause his business to go down. Neither did he cause the baby to die. But God in His sovereignty used the struggle and thepain in their lives to turn them towards spiritual things. About this time they found a good church and their life changed forever.
His life verse became Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Application: Trials can either press you towards God or they can push you away from God. Trials can take your spiritual life to a whole new level or they can turn you bitter and angry and frustrated with God. R.G. and Evelyn chose to draw closer to God.


It happened in 1931 (2 years after the Great Depression hit the United States and the world) LeTourneau had two construction projects in hand – one, a million dollar contract, to build a highway to Boulder Dam on the Colorado River in Nevada; the second, a half a million-dollar contract, to build the Orange County Dam in Southern California. There were some problems in completing the Boulder Dam and LeTourneau was in a loss of $100,000 – in today’s standards it would be a $1 million dollars. Anyways, bonding company in San Francisco was willing to do one of two things – take it out of LeTourneau’s hands or

LeTourneau Family

oversee as he did it. To make matters worse – the State Inspector came and said “It is too late to get started because rainy season is just a few months away. You cannot complete it. Have to wait till next year.” To wait a year, might as well as call it the end – there will be no recovery. LeTourneau begged and pleaded with the inspector who finally said there is some work to be done at the base of the dam. If you can complete the work in 1 month, I will believe that you can finish the dam before the rainy season comes. LeTourneau and his men worked days, night and Sundays. The job was done. Nothing like it was done. Inspector said, “Alright if you work at the same speed, I know you will get it done before the rains.”
Prior to this LeTourneau had never worked his men on Sundays. It troubled his conscience to work on Sundays and keep his men from God’s day of rest. (I know that some of us in the medical field or law enforcement or professions like them are required to be there. We are not talking about that.) He approached the Bonding company and said “I want to stop the work on Sunday. We’ll still get the job done.” They said, “No way – to much of a risk for us. You do that – we take over.” LeTourneau prayed and asked the Lord. A still voice said “Obey God rather than man.”

They did not show up Sunday. The next day the head man at san Francisco called “What do you think you are doing? We try to help you and this is what you do. Either you work Sundays or we take over.” LeTourneau answered, “I cannot change my decision. You can take everything I have except my wife and children.” Three days later the headman came to the scene and said, “Alright fellow, you do it your way. I will back you up. I guess it will be alright.” Needless to say, the work was completed and LeTourneau was able to save the business. Bottom line – LeTourneau honored God. One time someone asked him “If you know a thing is the will of God and you do not feel you have the faith, what do you do?” He said, “I go ahead and act like I have the faith.”

The very next year, 1932, things were not much better. He was again in hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. The pay roll was five weeks behind. LeTourneau did not know what would happen next. It felt like it was over. That Sunday he was in church. It was a Missions Sunday and people were pledging for missions. God spoke to his heart and said – “How about making a pledge to missions this year?” He answered – “How can I? There are people in church here who work for me. I haven’t paid them in five weeks. If I do this, they would call me a hypocrite for making a pledge when I wasn’t paying my bills.” God told him to divide the pledge and make it in the names of his children. He made a pledge of $5000, which was a lot by today’s standards.

R.G. and Evelyn LeTourneau

About this time he had sold a machine to a contractor but he was having trouble with the steel tires in the desert sand. The contractor wanted to go elsewhere but LeTourneau persuaded him to let him try the pneumatic tires. It worked like a charm. The contractor bought two of the scrapers and even told him to build another one. R.G. asked if he could have a small down payment. The man said – “Down payment! I’ll give you the check for the whole thing!” He gave him a check for $25,000.

From there on, God became his business partner. He would often say: “Not how much of my money I give to God, but how much of His money I keep for myself.” R.G. also gave way 90% of his income to the Lord’s work.

He put it this way: “I shovel out the money and God shovels it back in—but God has a bigger shovel.”


Dec 1968 RG and Evelyn LeTourneau with Billy Graham

As I mentioned earlier, R.G. and Evelyn would travel every week to speak in churches and gatherings. Once they were travelling in 1937 with a singing quartet. They had a head on collision with a car coming towards them. The driver of the other car had turned his head to talk. Five people died at the scene – three in the opposite car and two from the quartet. R.G.’s hips were driven out of their sockets, his pelvis was broken, chest was crushed, leg was broken, and a foot crushed. Evelyn was bruised and bleeding and unconscious.

R.G. looked up to heaven and said – “Lord, this could not have happened if You had not permitted it, because I know ‘that all things work together for good to them that love God.’ You suffered more than this for me. Thy will be done.’” God healed them and used them again.

They made it by the grace of God. They obeyed God and trusted Him for the impossible. Rom. 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

5 thoughts on “IF THEY MADE IT, YOU CAN TOO – 3 (R.G. and Evelyn LeTourneau)

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  1. I’m So glad I stumbled upon this sermon from a couple years back. Gabe and I experienced some of the loss this man went through, so I feel I can totally relate. But, through that experience we have learned so much. We have come out on the other side so much more rich. Richer in spiritual things instead of earthly things that moth and rust can destroy. When the market crashed in 2007, Gabe lost his logging business. It was a 3rd generation family-owned logging business. So, this wasn’t an easy thing for him to deal with. The feeling of losing the family-owned business was hard. But, God has been faithful and gotten us through it and now Gabe logs for a wonderful man that has been so good to our family. It’s no doubt that God led Gabe there. God also used that experience to humble us, to teach us to lean on Him and not our own abilities. We never would have had the relationship we have with God if it wasn’t for this trial. I’m so thankful for it. We also take away the lesson that unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. That tells me that without God, we can try to build our earthly kingdoms but it will all be in vain.

    1. Thank you Cindy! What an awesome testimony of God’s faithfulness in your life! I can only imagine how hard it must’ve been for you and Gabe…but God still has His hand on your sweet family!

  2. 1d3Michelle fails to remotely acknowledge that she does not have the right to just sit down &#8d20;In2ian Style” in the middle of a walk way at a public facility (i.e. store). That is called loitering, and likely violates fire codes. The target employees clearly handled the situation poorly, but people can’t just plop down wherever and whenever they feel like it. It is rude to inconvenient to other shoppers.

  3. This was so well written. I have enjoyed hearing about RG’s biographry. I was on the edge as I was reading every word. I can’t wait to learn more about his life. Thank you so much for making this available for others to be encouraged but his life and dedication to the Lord.

    1. Thanks Tanya! He was a really godly man who trusted God with everything. That’s how I want to be! Thanks for your kind words!

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