By Jon M. Taylor
After the death of my first wife, Janice, I was left with large debts from medical expenses and from borrowing to get through my MBA program. In a vain effort over a period of years to repay those debts, I started several businesses and worked long hours to get ahead financially. However, it seemed that the harder I worked, the more I fell behind financially.until I was deep in debt.
While all this was going on, I was having problems coping as a single parent. I went to a counselor for help. He heard me describe my herculean efforts to get on top financially while raising my children alone. Finally, he suggested I consider bankruptcy. He told me that my children needed not just my money but my time. I had been using babysitters and day care but had not given them as much personal attention as I gave to my business pursuits.
The idea of bailing out on my debts through bankruptcy was foreign to me. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my counselor was right; my children really needed me. So I filed for bankruptcy, saving some money by filing myself without the help of an attorney. However, I kept a record of the names and addresses of all my creditors, hoping to some day pay them all back.
Ten years went by, then twenty, and finally thirty years passed without making enough progress to pay those old debts. Even though I was no longer legally obligated to pay them, I felt an obligation to do so as a matter of honor.
While reading in the Doctrine & Covenants one day, I came upon these verses:
And again, I say unto you concerning your debts — behold it is my will that you shall pay all your debts.
And it is my will that you shall humble yourselves before me, and obtain this blessing by your diligence and humility and the prayer of faith. (Doctrine & Covenants 104:78-79)
I took this literally and began fasting and praying every Sunday for this blessing. After only a few weeks, I was hired as an expert witness by the legal firm of an entity made up of top Amway distributors who were trying to break away from Amway to work for a competitor. Amway was suing them for breach of a contract that included a non-competition clause restricting their working for a competing company for an extended period of time. Millions of dollars were at stake on both sides, and they were willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to expert witnesses to help them build their case.
As I fulfilled my contract as a consultant and expert witness, payments for my consulting services came flowing in at a pace I had not seen before in all my entrepreneurial pursuits. It was almost unbelievable – a miraculous fulfillment of the scripture cited above in the Doctrine & Covenants.
So I pulled out from my files the list of about thirty companies and individuals I had left unpaid as creditors when I filed for bankruptcy thirty years earlier. I started at the top of the list, picked up the phone, and called the creditor.
“Hi, this is Jon Taylor. Remember me?”
There would be a brief period of silence. They would then say something iike, “Oh yeah. You’re the guy who left me holding the bag for $5,000.”
“Well I was just wondering if you’d like your money back.”
Silence again. They could not believe that I would be getting back to them and offering to repay them after 30 years.
I would then write them a check and send it to them.
I called each former creditor on this list and did the same for them.
However, there were a few former debtors that no longer could be found or who had been sold or merged until no one could be found who could appropriately receive the money. One respondent said, “After all this time, I don’t even know where I would put the money. Why don’t you give it to the poor?”
I discussed this with my bishop, who responded that I had done everything I could to repay loans that I was not even legally obligated to pay after th4e bankruptcy. He suggested that since the Lord provided the funds, I might give the balance to the poor. Since some members of my family and members of the ward were then unemployed and struggling financially, I followed the bishop’s advice and gave the remainder of the money to those in need.
As happened to me so often before, the promises of the Lord were miraculously fulfilled.