The Funkhauser Effect is based on an actual incident I experienced while between an educational hiatus during my junior and senior year of college. It is yet another example that in the Providence of God’s dealings with man, the truth is often stranger than fiction.
In the fall of 1971 I was a junior at the University of Michigan. I was actively involved in an interdenominational Christian community that was hosting a weekend conference on the work of the Holy Spirit in the modern church. But that weekend, I had the opportunity to experience the Spirit’s activity outside of the scheduled agenda.
Assigned to pick up a late arriving conferee on Saturday morning, I was greeted at the airport by a very talkative middle-aged businessman who was bubbling over with enthusiasm. He talked incessantly as the miles rolled by until we found ourselves mired in the campus congestion of a football Saturday. We were inching down a shaded street that was dotted with stately old fraternity houses, when I spotted a student who had lived in my dorm freshman year. He had an unusual name that I was struggling to recall. When it finally came to me, I blurted out loud, “If it isn’t Brandt Funkhauser! It’s been a few years since I’ve seen his smiling face!”
My passenger immediately responded “Did you say Brandt Funkhauser? From Ohio?”
“Why yes. I believe he is from Ohio.”
“There can’t be two of them! Where is he?”
I pointed to the young man sitting on a porch, nursing a large glass of beer. The businessman leapt from the car and trotted toward the unsuspecting student. I watched through the rear view mirror as my passenger introduced himself, engaged in an animated discourse for several minutes, pumped the surprised student’s hand vigorously, and then trotted back to the car. A Cheshire cat’s grin lit up his face.
“Glory to God!” he exclaimed. “I have been wanting to thank Brandt Funkhauser for over thirty years. Alleluia!”
Perplexed, I inquired, “You know Brandt Funkhauser?”
“Well, not exactly. Obviously, that was his son. I never met his father, but he was a man I will never forget. You see, there were nine children in our family. During the height of the Depression, my dad was a Senior Engineer at a firm that was struggling to remain solvent in the midst of the severe economic downturn. Rumors were circulating that to save money, the firm was going to lay off my father and replace him with an extremely gifted young engineer they were interviewing, at half the wage, of course. His name was Brandt Funkhauser. My father was devastated. At the age of fifty-three, he knew it would be extremely difficult for him to find employment in those lean times. Apparently, when young Funkhauser got wind that his opportunity would mean the displacement of an older employee with a large family, he declined the offer. Unable to find another candidate with such impressive credentials, the firm had to keep my father. ‘Brandt Funkhauser’ was just a name, and I always wondered what happened to him. According to Brandt, Jr., he is enjoying a successful career. I believe he saved our family from very dire straits. It was an honor to tell his son how his father’s sacrifice altered the lives of nine children.”
I marveled at how God used some very insignificant circumstances (a late arrival; a traffic jam; and an unusual name recalled, uttered, and recognized) to seal a blessing sown over three decades earlier by a young engineer named Funkhauser.