There were other demonic deliverances, as well as miracles of healing, but I won’t list all of them at this time, I’ll just say that we saw some miraculous things take place during the seven years at this location. If you read the Book of Acts, you will see that it is full of supernatural events happening by the hands of the Apostles. Jesus told His twelve disciples that they would do greater works than even He did, after the power of the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost. The scriptures teach us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He certainly answered many prayers when we asked in His name. The devil hates the Name of Jesus Christ.
We eventually were able to find an old Methodist Church building that was vacant. When I inquired about it, I was invited to meet with the Methodist Pastor who had built a new and larger building for his flock. He took a liking to me and allowed me to buy the old building on land contract with small payments monthly. This was the break that we needed, and we ran with it. We wrote articles for the local paper and put announcements on the radio inviting people to our meetings. A minister friend donated his old padded theater seats, a sister in the church was gifted and able to paint a beautiful mural on the wall, Dad helped me enclose the baptism tank, everyone helped paint the inside and outside of the church, and others donated supplies for the Sunday School rooms. We were the talk of the town and drew a lot of people to the meetings. This is where the church established itself. Years later they were able to sell this building and buy a another one.
In the process of knocking on doors and inviting people to the services, I ran into a lot of people who were addicted to alcohol, or drugs, or who were just suffering from lack of money and love. Some came to our services and were changed. Others never came, but I always tried to visit them from time to time, to let them know that I was praying for them, and to slip them some money, clothes or groceries when I felt it was needed and wise to do so. Sometimes I think those people were more of a blessing to me than the ones who came to church. I saw them at their worst and in their untidy surroundings, and was still able to show them love and concern with prayer. I believe these experiences gave me a deeper appreciation for those who are on the outside of the church walls. Jesus said when you have done kindness to the least of these, you have done it to Him.
I used to hear people tell me all the time, “Well, I don’t have anything to wear to church.” I would say, “You just come as you are.” Today, when I walk into a church, I see people in their pajamas or half clothed! How times have changed! I think we have become too casual and have lost our respect for things that should be holy and set apart from every day life.
I was taught that there were three things that caused preachers to fail. ‘Women’, ‘Power’, and ‘Money’. I can listen to a preacher, and most of the time, tell you which one of these he has a problem with. There are very few men who can stay humble with success. It is always refreshing when you find them.
Somehow women are drawn to preachers, especially when they are preaching under the anointing. You have seen women go crazy over rock stars and celebrities. They seem to be drawn to men who are in uniform or in authority. I have seen women sit on the front pew and flash the preacher. I have seen them get as close to him as they could, supposedly to ask a question. I have seen them come to the door in very revealing clothing, when they knew that I was a preacher. Preaching is a very dangerous profession. It was said that Billy Graham never rode the elevator alone with a woman. He waited or made sure that there was another male with him.
I saw a lot of preachers hungry for power and fame. They were always working the system to get a better position in the district or the larger congregation. I saw preachers who lived very wealthy lifestyles while their members were struggling to support them. I have seen it all at one time or another.
Preachers are human beings just like everyone else. They have their faults and shortcomings. Sometimes they start out as genuine, humble men of God, and then they allow certain things to give them a spirit of pride. You can see it in a lot of TV preachers today. Popularity changes the way a man presents himself.
You need to pray for preachers, pastors and missionaries instead of giving them a difficult time. They carry their own personal problems, the problems of their family, the problems of each individual and the problems of each family in their congregation. They even carry a burden for those outside their church. It can be a very heavy load. The Bible says that they are worthy of your respect and support. Jesus refers to them as the ‘Angel’ of their church. It is a ‘spiritual’ position and calling.
I attended a national conference one year where the issue of preaching on TV was before the ministers for a vote. There were preachers who spoke for and those who spoke against, and those who wanted more time to pray about it. It was a heated topic.
There were successful preachers of large congregations preaching on television. There was one man who had started many churches for the organization, who was preaching on TV. The issue needed more time before it was put to a vote. The general superintendent became angry and took control, bypassing Roberts Rules of Order, and called for the vote. The by-law forbidding preaching or advertising on TV was railroaded into the Manual.
I went home sick to my stomach from this conference, ready to leave the organization. When I arrived home, I made some calls to some older minister friends asking for advice as to what I should do. They advised me to ‘hang in there’ and ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bath water’…..so I stayed and tucked this experience down inside with the other disappointments with my elders. A really dark cloud was forming.
I also had a couple of other disagreements with the district superintendent. Somehow he felt that he had more authority over my congregation than I did, and he scolded me a couple of times for something that was none of his business. I had to stand up to him and remind him of the by-laws, which he should have already known as a leader. I remember getting a call from another minister, telling me confidentially that this superintendent had called another district superintendent about this matter, and was told just that….to mind his own business and allow me to pastor my church. Somehow I seemed to be a threat to this man and his authority.
I was always taught that if you have to tell people that you are in charge, then you were never in charge in the first place. Respect for those who follow you reaps their respect for your leadership. The Bible says a man’s gift will make room for himself. There is no need to advertise it.
So, when I felt God ‘calling’ me to Africa, I was uncertain how this would go with my superintendent. I had to be approved by the district board first, before I could appear before the national foreign missions board. There were a lot of steps to go through including securing many reference letters, in addition to meeting these two boards. It was a long process.
I made the initial application, and was sent the paperwork to start the process with the local district. If it had not been for a certain friend of mine sitting on this district board, I don’t believe I would have been approved. As it turned out, the district superintendent congratulated me with some reservations. He was probably glad to be rid of me. Lol
I remember the general conference where I received the call. It was held in Louisville, Ky. I was sitting way up in the balcony among a crowd of thousands of ministers and saints. During the Foreign Missions Service, I felt the Lord dealing with my heart about answering the call. When the altar call was given, I found myself grabbing the wife’s hand and saying, “Let’s go”. She didn’t say a word, but followed me to the altar. It was a long walk down and I was literally shaking with God’s presence on me. I finally made it to the altar and knelt and just burst into tears as I began to tell God that I would go. When I surrendered my will to His, I felt His peace and assurance that this is what He wanted me to do.
I was excited and yet afraid. If you remember, I had read several books about missionaries and the sacrifices that they had made in fulfilling their ‘call’….I did not know what my ‘call’ would entail, or if I would able to make the sacrifices like they had. I was nervous, but at peace.
To be continued…