Message of Life MinistriesLetourneau Research

John Niemelä’s parents, George and Mabel Niemelä had two sons. Almost sixteen years elapsed after Joe’s birth before John entered this life. His mother cultivated a love for languages, math, and books, while his father acquainted him will all things mechanical, especially yellow iron (construction equipment). When John was eight, Dad entered the equipment rental business in Stockton, CA. He made sure that John became proficient with a range of equipment—from power saws to backhoes. John’s teaching career began at age eleven, training homeowners to operate what they rented. His first sale of a new John Deere garden tractor was at age 12.

During high school, he devoted much attention to competitive debate and to working with his parents in their business. During his first two years college (at UC Davis), he returned to Stockton each weekend to work with his parents until they retired. All of us moved to Minnesota. John enrolled at University of Minnesota and accepted office work. That was the point that his interest in R.G. LeTourneau’s California years really took hold.

Actually, his casual research on LeTourneau had begun about a year earlier, in the summer of 1972. It was then that he first read R.G.’s autobiography, Mover of Men and Mountains. He enjoyed life! He did not enjoy it in spite of being a Christian, but because he was one. R.G. was an interesting blend. Somehow his Christianity fit into a life of machinery.

That same summer, John read Hal Lindsay’s book, The Late-Great Planet Earth. He concluded that the Bible must be God’s word, because fulfilled prophecy shows that it was not merely the product of human writers.

Soon after returning to UC Davis in September 1972, a friend died in a hunting accident. Since John had recently concluded that the Bible is God’s truth, David’s unexpected death confronted John with his own mortality. He initiated conversations about Christianity with fellow-students who attended church or were active in campus ministry. He also started frequenting meetings of campus ministries and began attending a Bible church. He had already believed that he was a sinner under a death penalty and that the solution was to believe in Jesus Christ who died in his place and rose again. However, it was unsettling to him that no one seemed to have a good answer for a pressing question:

The Bible made my need for a Savior clear to me. How will I know that I—in fact—have a Savior? What will let me know when I—in fact—have been saved eternally?

During this time of searching, John discovered the answer.

Just as the Bible makes clear our need for everlasting life, it also makes it clear when we have—in fact—received it. When one knows that Jesus Christ Himself guarantees that he/she will live forever with Him, he/she has believed His promise. At that moment, a person passes from death into life everlasting (Cf. John 6:47).

From that day, John sought to clarify the gospel in its simplicity. To that end, he earned Th.M. and Ph.D. degrees in New Testament Literature and Exegesis from Dallas Theological Seminary. He was part of the pastoral staff at Victor Street Bible Chapel in Dallas, TX, for seven years. After returning to California, he taught exegesis in seminary for eleven years. He currently teaches at Rocky Mountain Bible College and Seminary and researches for Message of Life Ministries. The Lord has privileged him to devote himself to biblical research and to continue his investigations into the history of old yellow-iron.

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