Testimony & Call
Pat and I were raised in Catholic Schools. She went to the All-Girls school and I went to the All-Boys. Catholicism lost some of its integrity with me while in the 5th or 6th grade. We were leaving a Catechism class where the instructor had taken the whole period to explain Indulgences, when a boy turned and asked me, "Do you believe any of that?" I fired right back, "Not a chance."
From that point, I jumped through the hoops, but was
skeptical of most of the man-made doctrine.
After graduating, Pat and I were married. The priest who officiated was lazy and insincere. After our first child was born, she was Baptized by the same priest. Again, he was not interested and complained a lot. We never went back to church, mostly for reasons of rebellion on our part. Bad preachers and priests can be found in any denomination and we were aware of this. We were just rebellious
As our children grew older, we talked about giving them the same advantage that we had received and put our oldest in a Catholic School.
Between the time we were in school and when our daughter enrolled, the Catholic Church went through Vatican II. The Latin Mass was dropped, eating meat on Friday was no longer sending folks to hell, and many other changes in religious practices.
It all seemed like they were backsliding, changing the rules. Catholic Church integrity slipped even further.
When we saw that our children were growing up and would someday be married, we wanted them to have a church in which to be married. We tried again.
Our attempt was only half hearted. We failed more than the Catholics failed us.
We never have anyone to blame but ourselves.
Just Minding My Own Business
In 1974, Pat was
saved at a city-wide crusade in Victoria, TX. She came home very excited and seemingly walking on air. I had no idea what had happened and she was not able to explain enough to satisfy me.
Immediately, she wanted to go to church and we visited every Baptist Church in town, but I did not hear what she had heard. This lasted for about a year. We even bought Bibles.
She had acquired the book, "The Late Great Planet Earth", which spoke of the end times. All of this was of great interest to both of us, but especially to me, as a lost person.
I began to become very unsatisfied with my life. Since I was 5 years old, I wanted to make a lot of money. I thought by the time I was 30, I would be a millionaire. At this point I was 33 and not even a hundredaire.
It seemed my life was going nowhere and I became very despondent. I just could not shake myself out of the depression and hopelessness.
A psychiatrist was contacted. He gave me some pills. They only seemed to make things worst and he had no advice that seemed pertinent.
I kept searching.
Invited to Church
An engineer at the shop where I worked invited us to the Baptist church of their membership. This was the very first time anyone had made an active attempt to steer us in the right direction. I had never been given a tract or any kind of clear witness.
Since we were not hearing how to get me
saved, we gave up on going to church and just coasted for a while.
The depression seemed better, then all of a sudden things piled on higher than ever before. Then it would ease up again. A cycle of ups and downs, but the ups never got high enough and the downs were steep, dark and cold.
In November, 1975, 2 men came by our house on a Thursday evening and invited us out to Rocky Creek Baptist Church. It was about 4 miles further from town. I told them we couldn't come out, because it was hunting season.
After the first of the year and hunting season over, Pat noticed in the paper the church was having their 3rd Anniversary. We went out and very much enjoyed it. I especially loved the music and singing. Everyone was very friendly. But there was something different and I didn't know what it was.
The preacher went on repeatedly about being
saved. That we needed to be
saved. Couldn't get to heaven unless we were
saved was the most important thing, and on and on.
I thought that since he was making such a big deal about salvation, that there would be some folks
saved. But no one complied to all his preaching.
Pat and I talked about salvation, but we couldn't resolve anything. She was
saved, but did not know any of the jargon.
We went back Sunday evening. There was a lot of singing and the preacher started in on being
saved again. He went on and on, but I still couldn't see anyone get
saved. I wanted to see someone else get it, so I could see what happened when they did.
First Clear-Cut Witness
After the service, Pat and I were still standing at the back pew and talking about this being
saved business. She said, why don't you ask that little girl in front of us what its about. I did and she said, she would get her mother, who in turn got the preacher.
He began to witness to me about Jesus Christ and did so in such a way that I had to agree with him. He asked me to pray and I did, but I did not mean a word of it. I was not antagonistic, just not ready.
All that next week, I thought of nothing but Jesus Christ and what He had done for me.
The next Sunday we went back and it was the same thing all over. Singing and preaching about being
saved. Since I still was not
saved, I still did not know what it was all about. I was very doubtful about it all and had even read in my new Bible some to attempt to disprove all this preaching. I found nothing in the Bible and no help anywhere else.
Went back to church on Sunday night and sure enough, the preacher started in again on being
saved. We all stood up for the invitation. I was still wondering if it was all true and could not figure out how to prove if it was or was not.
As I stood there, I said to myself, "If he is right about salvation, I am going to hell for sure. If he is not right about salvation and I try it and it does not work, the worst that could happen is I would be a little embarrassed." Then I said something to myself that is not theologically correct, "I am going to call God's bluff" and see if it is true. I am not going to try it, like I did the last Sunday and failed. I am going to jump in with both feet and see if God will catch me.
Everyone shook my hand several times. Some were crying, some were laughing, but everyone had a joy. I even felt like a new person.
As we drove home after the service, Pat and talked about what took place. One of us (don't remember which one) asked about tithing. We had always heard that you were supposed to tithe. We said right then that we would, although we did not know exactly what it was. After finding out, we began to tithe and have to this day. The windows of heaven have truly been opened to us.
The next morning I woke up and couldn't cuss any more. It was completely gone. If someone had wrote a cuss word on a piece of paper, I couldn't have signed my name to it. Everyone said that I was a
changed person and I knew it and loved it.
All of my problems became very trivial.
Not Just Saved, But Assured, Too
I did not get assurance of salvation for several months, until someone showed me Eph 2:8-9. All of a sudden it dawned on me. I was not just
saved in January, 1976, but I was
saved forever. Jesus paid for all my sins, past and FUTURE, and as a born-again person I have received that blood payment. Never doubted it since.
The first Easter, after being
saved, Pat and I and both of the kids were Baptized. They had made a profession of faith, too.
This is how I know that Baptism does not save. When I made a sincere profession of faith in Christ, I was a
changed person. The Lord came to me and I to Him. Then a few months later, I was Baptized. The
change was already made months before. Baptism added nothing.
Surrender to the Ministry
Not long after being
saved, I felt that the Lord called me to the ministry. Pastor told me that everyone who gets
saved later in life thinks they are a preacher, so I dismissed it for a while. A year later it came back on me again and for the next 5 years. Each time the preacher did not give me much encouragement. He was wise in doing so in my case.
In 1982 I knew the Lord had called me to something, so I surrendered to His will not knowing how or if he would use me. In less than a year, we were in Bible College. By 1986 I was pastoring the great Heritage Baptist Church in Post Falls, Idaho.
We stayed in Idaho for 14 years, but it would take 114 years to relate all that the Lord did.
The church grew from about 37 (bus kids, nursery and all) to about 140 at the highest average.
The Lord gave us many to which we could witness and a wonderful group of people to do it with.
We averaged Baptizing about 1+ per month.
During our last year, we had an institute, where almost all our people were involved. This was some of the most blessed times. It seemed our people really grew in the Lord.
(Must cut off at this part, because we have gotten ahead of our chronological time line. The Surrender to the Ministry covers time from 1977 to 2000. The following reverts back to 1979 to pickup where our public ministry began.
While still in Texas and only 2 years after being
saved, we went to the Victoria Live Stock Show and Rodeo. We noticed there were churches with
booths and had literature available. Not sure if they were tracts. Just seemed like brochures. We decided that this would be a good opportunity for our church to get out some tracts.
The next year, 1979, we bought 1000's of tracts, had a sign painted and set up a table at the stock show. We had no intention of winning anyone. Pat and I had only won one person each and those occasions were in the last few weeks. We had no intention of even handing out tracts. The tracts were going to be placed on the table and if anyone wanted one they could take them. But God had other ideas. He was going to show us how the lost will come to us and that they truly would like to hear how to be
At noon on the first day of the 4 day event, all the schools let out. They came down through that big building and just about cleaned off our table.
God Had a Plan
In a little while, one of the kids came back and asked if the tract was true, or was it a fable. Pat won him to the Lord. He left and came back with his sister. They left and came back with others and so on. After a while, there were 6-7 standing in line on each side of the
booth. We were in business.
The whole church got involved and we were all so excited that the puniest young girl could tear a Houston Phone Directory in half and any of us could shout down a train whistle.
After the stock show was over, I said to myself, I can't wait until next February to do this again and started looking for other events in our area.
The SWAT Team
For 4 years, about once a month, we took who ever wanted to go to small one-day events around Victoria from February to October. This was one of the most exciting times in our lives. I cannot explain the joy of it all.
Pastor Howard Pierce named us the SWAT Team. SWAT was an acronym for Soul Winning And Tracts.
"Don't Let Them Talk You Out of It"
During the first 2 years, our pastor's pastor came to preach a revival for us. He wanted to know what we were doing
at these Public Events, every detail.
Afterwards he said, "Good! Keep up the good work and don't let anyone talk you out of it."
I told him, "I don't think anyone is going to try to talk us out of it."
He said, "Oh, yes, and I will tell you who. It will be a Baptist preacher."
You cannot imagine how prophetic that was. Every where we turned, preachers were asking, "How may of these people are really getting
saved?" "What are you doing to follow-up and get these people in church?" "How many are getting Baptized?" Only a few rejoiced with us even over the prospect of just one being
After 4 years, I let it get to me and was ready to abandon the project. But the Lord had already accomplished what He was after. We had help train over half the people in the church to win the lost out in public places. Bold, but not obnoxious. These people began to win their friends, neighbors, workmates, schoolmates, etc., and the church sprang forth. There were many other considerations which helped in the church explosion and the Lord had everything to do with all of them.
Later we attempted to do this type of work in Idaho, where the Lord had called us to pastor Heritage Baptist Church. There were too few events and most occurred at the same time, during the short "good weather" period. So public events played a small part of our work in Idaho. Our church did work in the local fair and distributed tracts in the parades. Everyone loved those events.
Amazing Grace Mission
In 2000, Dr. Jim Gardner, called and asked if he could come by and tell us about their Fair Ministry. I told him, sure, that we loved that sort of thing.
But I was supposed to preach in a camp meeting in West Virginia that week. The Lord put the man handling the camp meeting in a church as pastor and the meeting was canceled.
In the mean time, one of our members, Bro. Hodge, was preparing to make arrangements for a
booth in the fair for 2000. When he called the fair grounds, they told him Amazing Grace Mission had rented a space. We decided to help them.
Bro. Gardner came to the church and told us about the mission and its work. He also scheduled a lot of us to come work in their space. Our people loved the way they operated the
booth. Our work was just not as effective as theirs.
During the course of the fair, Bro. Gardner asked if Pat and I would come and go with them and work full time at public events.
We prayed about it for a month. Dr. Gardner would call about once a week and ask if I had any news from heaven.
Then he called and asked if we would go to Yakima, WA, and help them get started in their fair.
Pat, our daughter, Lisa and grand daughter, Gwen and I went and worked all day Saturday. The crowd was huge and we had people standing in line to hear the Gospel. I knew from that experience that the Lord was putting us in the ministry. It seemed as though nothing else amounted to much at all. People were wanting to hear and someone should be helping the churches reach them.
In 3 months, we had bought a truck and trailer, Tim Haveman took our place as pastor and we were down the road, never looking back.
At this writing we have been at it for over 5 years and still not looking back.
The Lord has given us as many as 2800 professions of faith per year, while distributing over
90,000 tracts each year. The joy and the blessings have been innumerable. We are looking forward to 10 to 15 more years. The way the last 5 have gone by, it will not take but a few months to work through each year.
During this whole narrative, references to we, us, our, etc., refers to Pat as well as me on every occasion and sometimes to others who worked with us. But, in every endeavor, Pat has been my constant helper, encourager, cheerleader, nurse, and unwavering companion. Of course at the same time, she was all of this and more to
every member of our family, all of our church members and even somewhat to those with whom we have done missionary work.
At this point, 2009, we have been inseparable for 48 years. Many of our friends and most of our relatives, do not ever remember seeing one of us without the other. This is certainly the case with 10's of 1000's of lost people at public events, looking for a glimpse of the Saviour.
Having preached in over 300 churches, she was there every time. Sometimes
hearing the same sermon for the "umpteenth" occasion.
The Lord has given us opportunities in events, which we managed, to place over 1/2 of a million tracts in eager hands as of
January, 2009. At these same events there have been over 12,000 professions of faith and many times this number warned of the judgment to come.
Thank you for your patience. As we go forward, we covet your prayers. Let us know how we can help you or your church become a better tract distributor, soul winner or manage
booths at public events.