In 1906, Ellen White penned these words: “For the present, some will be obliged to labor in Chicago; but these should be preparing working centers in rural districts, from which to work the city. The Lord would have His people looking about them, and securing humble, inexpensive places as centers for their work. And from time to time, larger places will come to their notice, which they will be able to secure at a surprisingly low price.” Medical Ministry, p. 305, 306
As surely as the Lord directed Dr. David Paulson in founding Hinsdale Sanitarium and Hospital near Chicago many years ago, the Lake Union Conference officers believe God has led in establishing the Lake Union Soul-Winning Institute at 6259 South Madison Street in Hinsdale.
The dream of establishing a soul-winning institute was based on two fundamentals: the need to train ministers and laymen in the principles of leading people to Christ, and the challenge of presenting the gospel to the millions of people who live in the Chicago area.
Yet how could the dream be realized? Sensing that all God’s biddings are enabling that all He calls us to do He empowers us to do, we began searching for property. After veiling a variety of sites, we found the price always too high, the facility too small, or the buildings too old. In a workers’ meeting one day, one of our ministers in Illinois heard of the need for a site for the soul-winning institute. Soon after, as he sat in a barber shop, he overheard a conversation that led to the securing of a 53-room retirement center, with all the furniture, dishes, linens, and kitchen equipment on five acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. Listen as Pastor Earl Simmons tells the story of God’s miraculous guidance:
“Guide me this day in what You would have me do,” I had prayed that morning. On my way to work I stopped at my regular barber shop. Something in the conversation between the barber and the client in the next chair caught my attention. They were discussing a large retirement center that would soon be vacant in the Hinsdale area. It sounded like the ideal facility for plans that the Lake Union ministerial secretary, Don Gray, had presented at the Illinois workers’ meeting – a training center for soul-winning.
I inquired about the location of the retirement center and could hardly wait for my haircut to be completed so that I could look into this development.
Visiting the site, I found a lovely country lane with a large, brick building set back from the road on several acres of ground. There were also several well-kept brick duplexes. “This is ideal,” I though.
The property had not yet been placed on the market. The barber and his customer had heard of it at church on Sunday. The barber shop was closed on Monday and I was probably the first customer on Tuesday!
I called Roy Wightman, health education secretary of the Illinois Conference, and told him what I had heard and seen. Mr. Wightman in turn referred the matter to Elder Gray and Harry Hartsock, president of Adventist Health Resources, Inc.
Again I learned the truth of this statement: “Our Heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us, of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service and honor of God supreme will find perplexities vanish, and a plain path before their feet.” The Desire of Ages, p. 330
On Wednesday, March 28, 1979, Lowell Bock, then president of the Lake Union Conference, signed the lease papers on the property that Elder Simmons had heard about in the barber shop. Here is the next part of this modern-day miracle. The cost of leasing this facility, which is located three miles from the Hinsdale Sanitarium and Hospital, has been one dollar per year for two years, or a grand total of two dollars.
Excerpt from “Come, Share Our Miracles!”, Lake Union Soul-Winning Institute Bulletin, Author unknown, circa 1980