After college, we spent two weeks at home visiting with the parents and the church, applying for my ministerial license, and then heading straight for the East Coast.
My first encounter with the new district superintendent was over the phone. Instead of him giving me a warm welcome to the district, or inviting me to meet with him for coffee or lunch, or to meet to pray about the move and learn about the area, he gave me a harsh lecture on how tough the area was for starting a church. (I tucked this down deep inside with my previous disappointment)
I bought a paper and called about an ad for a milkman. I was invited to meet with them the next day for an interview. It went well, and I was hired to run a route for their dairy company. I loaded the truck at 4 am and started the route at 5 am. The good news is that I finished the route at 1 or 1:30 pm, so I had the afternoon and evening free for knocking on doors, study, prayer and holding services.
We rented a row-house close to work, and not too far from the building where we would be holding services. The parents had helped donate some furniture and things for the baby daughter, so we had enough to set up housekeeping, and now a job to pay the rent.
The apartment turned out to be full of cockroaches! The bugs were big and everywhere. We complained to the landlord, and they provided treatments and a powder to spread around all the crevices and cracks. We soon found out that the roaches were coming from the neighbor’s apartment. She was an alcoholic and spent her time lying around drunk, while doing very little housekeeping. Her place was filthy, with clothes scattered around and dirty dishes in the sink. The landlord finally got her moved out and the bugs started to go away. Nasty…
I was able to negotiate free rent on the meeting place in exchange for cleaning the building and waxing and buffing the tiled floors. It was a nice location, and we received a lot of attention from the area business owners and their customers coming and going from their stores.
We had one lady attending the services who did not have transportation, so we had to pick her up before services. Each time we drove past the brewery, that was located close to her house, and she smelled the hops, she would say, “I don’t need to take a drink, I just stick my head out of my door, and I can get as high as a Georgia Pine!”
The milk route was a good job and I got to meet and invite several people to our services. I also had many opportunities to pray with different ones along the way. The hours were good for my ministry, and I got to drink chocolate milk and eat breakfast rolls on the job. It was like a little corner store on wheels. Eggs, pastries, cheese, cottage cheese, juice, and milk. I made collections once a week, and met some very nice people.
There was a heavy storm one night that knocked out the power, which made it very interesting trying to negotiate the dark side streets with a milk truck. At one stop, I had to drive down an alley to drop the milk off at the back door of this particular customer’s house. I was driving along when I heard something scrape the top of the milk truck. I didn’t think too much about it, just a broken branch making a scraping noise as I drove under it. It must have come down during the storm.
As I stopped the truck, I looked up and there was a set of electric wires stretched across the top of the truck and down across the windshield! I was scared. I was also praying. I was not sure what to do. So, I just sat there and prayed. I finally said, “In Jesus name!” and put the truck in reverse and hit the gas pedal. I heard the wires scrape the truck, saw sparks, but I got clear of them without getting zapped. I believe my Guardian Angel was watching over me that day for sure.
The truck was full of ice and wet products, surrounded by all kinds of metal. I was wet from running in and out of the inclement weather. I don’t think I could have jumped out with both feet in the air, clearing the danger, than landing with both feet on the ground, to avoid getting electrocuted. I credit my safety to angels and prayer.
I was able to turn this home mission work over to another minister. He moved the meeting place to the inner city. He had a passion to work with the rougher side of society. I preached for him years later, and there was a very heavy spirit of darkness in this part of town. He was very successful here and was able to deliver a lot of people from Satan’s darkness. He saw quite a few demons cast out of people at this location. This minister was full-blooded Choctaw Indian with a secular education, in addition to his ministerial training. He was fitted for the mission.
I then accepted an offer to help a pastor and his small congregation back in Ohio. This church was able to give me a small salary, but it was not enough to support the family. I found several part-time jobs, and then finally a full-time job at a local junior high school. (This was where I saw the ghost, George, mentioned previously)
My mother-in-law had helped us to finance an older house by loaning us the down payment. We had owned a small house before going to college, and had sold it on land contract. This was the second home we would own. It was located next to the Mayor’s house, so we tried to be good neighbors and make sure the yard was mowed and everything kept neat and trimmed. lol
I loved this church and always felt that I was supposed to be the Pastor one day. It was a small congregation of around one hundred in attendance. The people were warm and friendly and knew how to worship and pray. They took my small family in and just surrounded us with their love. My staying as their Pastor was not to be. I will tell about this scenario the next time.
I had hurt my back at one of my part-time jobs. One service as I was leading the worship, I stopped to ask the church and the Pastor to pray for my back. As they were praying, I felt the power of God’s Spirit come over me, and a ‘warmth’ flow down my back. I immediately said, “I believe I was just healed!” I described what I felt during their prayers, and we all gave thanks and went back to singing. You know, I never had any more pain or problems with my back, until just a few years ago. (I slipped on the ice and now have four pinched nerves) That was my first time experiencing God’s healing power in my life.
My number one son was born while we were ministering in this church. The Pastor had two young girls, and when he found out that we were expecting a baby boy, you could see the ‘envy’ in his eyes. So, I enjoyed making the call to him from the hospital, telling him that my new son had just made his appearance! I know, bad…fun though!
My number one son and my number one daughter had lots of attention from the members of this congregation. They brought a lot of joy to everyone, even to the Pastor.
Part Five will start with how I did not come to be the Pastor of this church…