One of the most amazing ‘rags to riches’ stories is the life of RG LeTourneau, as told in his biography “Mover of Mountains and Men”. LeTourneau began his career in obscurity in Stockton, California, where his first job was transporting earth to level out farmland. His frustrations with moving dirt drove him to find a better, more efficient way. In 1922 he constructed the first all-welded scraper that was lighter, stronger and less expensive than any other machines.
R.G. LeTourneau became the greatest obstacle-mover in history, building huge earth-moving machines. During World War II he produced 70% of all the army’s earth-moving machinery. He spoke of God as the Chairman of his Board.
As a multi-millionaire, LeTourneau gave 90% of his profit to God’s work and kept only 10% for himself. A special friend of Billy Graham, in his early days, LeTourneau designed a portable dome building intended for Graham crusades. He also founded a university that is thriving to this day.
LeTourneau said that the money came in faster than he could give it away. LeTourneau was convinced that he could not out-give God. “I shovel it out,” he would say, “and God shovels it back, but God has a bigger shovel.”
Many people see Letourneau as one of the most influential people of the past hundred years. As the father of the modern earthmoving industry, he was responsible for 299 inventions. These inventions included the bulldozer, scrapers of all sorts, dredgers, portable cranes, rollers, dump wagons, bridge spans, logging equipment, mobile sea platforms for oil exploration, the electric wheel and many others. He introduced into the earthmoving and material handling industry the rubber tire, which today is almost universally accepted. He invented and developed the Electric Wheel. His life’s verse was Matthew 6:33: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”
LeTourneau’s example reminds me that we too can be Mountain Movers. As the Great Physician said in Matthew 17:20, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” RG LeTourneau once said: “You will never know what you can accomplish until you say a great big yes to the Lord.”
My prayer for those reading this article is that God may raise up many creative leaders who, like LeTourneau, will be movers of mountains and people.
p.s. To hear LeTourneau share his heart, click on the following link.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector
BSW, MDiv, DMin
-previously published in the North Shore News
-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada
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