This Was a Move I Had Never Expected to Make
Lord called me to preach in November before I was 15 years old. A
while after that, Daddy accepted a call to preach on his life. Sunday,
May 18, 1952, our pastor, Rev. Ray Altaffer gave me an exhorters
license to preach. Soon I was being asked to speak at local Cottage
Prayer Meetings and then to supply the Pulpit for a near by Church whose
pastor was on vacation. I certainly didn't preach every month, but the
opportunities came. A near by Congregation asked me to preach a
Week-end Youth Revival. By the time I was in college I was invited to
speak quiet often. By the time I'd graduated from collage, I had been
preaching 10 years.
In October 1961 I took my first
pastorate at the small congregation of the Church of the Nazarene in Red
Oak, Iowa. While there our twins were born. The Congregation grew and
we sold our small building and bought a beautiful old Church with a
five bedroom parsonage. It met the growing need of the Congregation for
several years. After five years we moved to the West Des Moines
Church of the Nazarene, next door to the beautiful Camp Grounds of the
Church of the Nazarene in the State of Iowa. Our third and forth
children were born while we pastored the West Des Moines Church of the Nazarene. Two and a half years latter we moved to Mount Pleasant, Iowa Church of the Nazarene.
seven and a half years in Mt. Pleasant were years of joy and
fulfillment. Our last child was born there, giving us two boys and
three girls. There was a good moving of the Spirit of God in our
midst. Several College age people became a part of the Congregation.
During one period the young people became convicted by the Holy Spirit
and ask if they could burn books, pictures, drugs and many items deemed
to not be part of a Christian's life. We had a huge bonfire in the space behind the Church and
many participants sang hymns and songs as they rejoiced over the new victory in their lives.
the last year or year and a half of those seven and a half, I had
begun studying God's instructions to Moses for the Israelites to plan a Sabbacital year for their lands every seventh year. As I began to contemplate these passages, it occured
to me that I had no land. Was I responsible for some kind of seventh
year? As the months of prayer passed, I began to understand that my
mind was the place where I produced my sermons
and so my income. I prayed with concern about making such a move.
Lilly and I now had five children. Four were in school and the last
would began kindergarten in the fall. I didn't have enough money to
support such a decission.
I did have some job skills, but... so many questions. In my
experience, or at least I thought, a pastor would seem threatened by a
pastor suddenly moving into his congregation.
last three years I had been invited by our good friends, Rev. and Mrs.
Stewart Able to preach a couple Revival Meetings in their Congregation.
It would not have occured
to me to move there. But in earnest pray I felt confident the Lord was
directing me to move our family to Oregon, Illinois and attend
Stewart's Church. I had not told anyone yet about my thoughts and
prayers. I put two propositions before the Lord. First: Stewart
should call and ask me to come. Second: He would agree that he had no
plans to leave or move from the Oregon Congregation during that next 12
months. I thought my Sabbatical would be over in one year.
24 hours of my prayer to God in which I believed He had directed me to
move to Oregon, Stewart called me. He said he had heard that I was
planning to go on a Sabbatical. If so, he wanted to invite us to move
to Oregon and become a part of the Congregation. Steward was Canadian
and had pastored
in Iowa and now in Illinois at least a total of 20 years. He was
nearing retirement and now he was sure that he would not be making any
moves during the next twelve months. I accepted this as a clear sign to
leave Iowa and move out into the unknown.
After all bills had been paid, all good byes given, the gas tank filled, and Sabert
Smith's moving van was loaded with our belongings, we were on our
way. I had 47 cents in my pocket. It was a tough move. We had always
made so many friends in each pastorate. Now, again we were saying good bye.
Arriving in Oregon, Illinois at the Church of the Nazarene, Pastor Able and friends helped unload our furniature
and "things" into an unused Sunday School room in the Church basement.
It was early in the month of June 1976. In those fifteen years of pastoring Churches, our only vacations had been to Lilly's parents in Indianapolis, Indiana or to my parents in the mountains of north west Arkansas about thirty miles north east of Fort Smith.
plan had been to drive with our children to visit our parents and see
where the Lord might lead us in our hope to introduce our family to
lots and lots of relatives they had never meet. After our few days with
and the Sunday Service, we loaded back into our still relatively new
Voyager Van. We were ready on Monday morning to head out for Noblesville,
Indiana were my brother Ray was pastor. Stewart wanted to check the
oil in my van motor and he handed me his credit card for gas in the
event we might need it. He said," I'm just afraid you won't have enough
money." A small delay. Everything under the hood was in order. I got
in my side of the van and there swirling around the corner of the
Church and screeching to a dusty halt was Nancy. In a near panic, she
leaped out of her car and handed into our drivers window a small brown
paper sack. It felt rather heavy. Nancy said, "I've been throwing
pennies in for a while. I have no idea how many are there. But I felt
the Lord told me to bring them. And I was afraid I might miss you." We
thanked her and praised the Lord.
As we drove away
waving good bye to wonderful friends, I still had the forty seven cents
in my pocket. While we drove along toward De Kalb, Illinois, Lilly
counted those pennies. There were thirteen dollars. At a Mac Donald's
in De Kalb we gave each of the children their alotment
and all went and bought our breakfast and drinks. When we started
away, everybody had what they wanted, the pennies were all gone and I
still had that forty seven cents.
About 5:00 that Monday afternoon we were driving into the west edge of Noblesville
and there coming down the highway toward us was Ray and his family. We
waved, they pulled over, we chatted. We were passing through, they
were going to a Church board supper. He had been doing some carpentry
work for a Church family and would be hiring help the next day. Could I
help? Yes I could. We drove on to Lilly's Mom and we stayed the
week. I drove every morning to work with Ray, we had great fellowship
during the day and the Lord had arranged to supply our need. Sunday we
went to Church with Grandma Owens and Monday started the long drive to
Arriving at my Parents in Arkansas, my Dad
was happy to announce all the jobs he had lined up. There were two or
three houses to roof. Mrs. Bruce had ask him to build a goat barn with
five or six stalls. Each would hold the doe and her kids. So this was
something of a major job, though not like building a new house. We
would be there seven weeks, then Lilly and I with family would drive to
my home town where Lilly and our girls would stay with my Grandmother Shumaker. As we drove through Oklahoma
City we stopped to see my sister, Linda and family. Driving west from
the City on I-40 I began looking for a place to refill the gas tank.
President Nixon had put a closing time on gas station by 6:00pm. So the
farther we went closing time got closer. We turned south toward Altus
our county seat, 60 miles away. We prayed and drove, then drove and
prayed. The gas guage stopped going lower and we kept going and
praying. Finally we drove into the small town of Blare, Oklahoma
thirteen miles north of Altus. There was a filling station with its
lights on. We pulled up to the pump and a young man came out to fill
the tank. Finally he had it filled. He said, "You must have been
running on fumes. This tank only holds 23.5 gallons and that's how much
I put in." And then he said, "My boss left this morning for Wichita
Falls and took the keys with him. If he doesn't get back I'll be open
all night." We drove on praising the Lord, our God.
Lilly and our girls would visit my Easley
Grandparents and several other aunts, uncles and cousins while the boys
and I would drive on to Denver City, Texas where we'd meet Daddy and my
four brothers. We were there to build a new bedroom onto my cousin
Edwin's house. I don't remember how many days we were there. On
Saturday night we all drove to Clovis, New Mexico to see a fabulous
Rodeo. Sunday morning we attended their morning Church service. Edwin
paid us well. Our boys had lots of fun getting to know Edwin's boy.
When I dropped Lilly and the girls off at Eldorado, my Aunt Kathryn asked, if I could re-roof
her house when I got back from Texas? Her son Carroll could help when
he got home from school each day. The Lord kept providing funds without
my asking anybody for work. And I still had forty-seven cents in my
pocket. From Eldorado
we drove up through the panhandle of Texas to stay over night with my
cousin Yvonne and her family at Johnson, Kansas. Next morning we drove
on the Saint Louis area to stay the week-end with our dear friends, Rev.
Les and Doyle Ray Jeeter.
Monday was Labor Day. We drove home to Oregon, Illinois that day,
Sept. 6, 1976. And just knew, and then found out for sure that the
Great God of Eternity had us and His plans for us, firmly in the palm of