I have had the privilege of knowing Orville and Ruth Merillat since moving to Adrian. My wife, Judy, was one of the receptionists at Merillat Industries and saw them daily. They are the most gracious people I have ever met. Orville has been in Heaven for nearly 15 years, but Ruth continues to model Christian character. She spoke at a recent ‘Pastor Appreciation’ luncheon, so I thought I would share their story. I hope it encourages you.
The story of Orville and Ruth Merillat is a genuine adventure. It is the story of a boy who ran away from home to find excitement in the wild West. It is the story of a young sailor who came ashore with General Douglas MacArthur in The Philippines. It is the story of a talented carpenter who saw his dream grow into the largest, most successful company in his industry. It is, above ail, the story of a man and woman who decided to take God at His word, to invest their hopes and their resources in Him, and to trust Him for the results.
Today, the small business Orville and Ruth Merillat founded in 1946 is owned by Masco Industries. However, in 1990 Merillat Industries was the largest cabinet-making company in America – more than 50 percent beyond their nearest competitor in sales. Their unique designs, patented components, and vertical integration made Merillat the undisputed king of cabinets.
The story of Orville and Ruth Merillat is a story of a series of personal commitments and the impact they have had over many years. It is the story of the sense of responsibility which made Orville Merillat, first, a good carpenter, and then a caring employer. And it is the story of faithful stewardship and Christian giving based on the literal application of Scripture.
The story of Orville and Ruth Merillat is the story of a life built on trust. First, it is the story of how he came to trust in his family and in himself. Second, it is the story of how he came to trust in God. And finally, it is the story of how he expressed that trust through his Christian faith. The source of the Merillats’ faithfulness can be better understood when you realize that their life verse is Malachi 3:10, which says:
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
This verse was chosen before he began cabinet-making. When asked about this verse, Mr. Merillat simply said, “When God tells us to bring our gifts into the storehouse, He is not just referring to dollars What the Bible says is that if we trust God and honor Him with our tithe, He will pour out a blessing upon us. How much simpler can He make it.” When asked about people today who find themselves deep in debt, their dreams still unfulfilled, who have concluded that it would be impossible for them to tithe, he responds: “Every journey starts with a first step. No one else can solve your problem for you; you’ve got to solve it for yourself. But what does the Bible say? Does it say wait until you’re out of debt before giving to the Lord? No, it says bring your tithes into the storehouse. But it also says that if you fail to do that you are robbing God. If you’re in debt $10,000 and you’re only making $10,000 or $12,000 a year, I would say this….trust Him! That’s what He says: ‘test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘and see if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.”
With the promise of Malachi 3:10, that God will pour out a blessing upon those who bring the tithes into the storehouse, these loving people have put God to the test, even as He challenged them to do, and they have found Him as good as His Word.
Their impact can be seen in The Christian Family Centre – a gymnasium, swimming pool, water park, racquetball courts, a complete fitness center, picnic grounds, cafe & banquet facilities, and a 700-seat auditorium which hosts a wide range of top-notch performers and family events – all in a wholesome, Christian environment. Also, Lenawee Christian Schools – a modern Christian school complex, which today serves approximately 500 students in grades preschool through twelve. Other facilities they have funded include the sports center at Adrian College, Sienna Heights University, Bixby Hospital, Asbury College in Kentucky, Huntington College in Indiana, and Michindoh Conference Center in Hillsdale.
And lastly, Faith Baptist Church of Adrian, Michigan was a recipient of $150,000 toward rebuilding our church facility following our church fire in 1996. Orville and Ruth Merillat are examples of of what God can do for people who trust Him.