My mother had 4 sisters and 3 brothers. Seven of them lived within approximately 15 miles of each other. My grandparents on my mothers side lived in Gray Court. On Sunday afternoon they would all gather at my grandparents house. I was able to play with all my cousins and enjoy all the good food. My job in the summer was to hold the ice cream churn down. A croker sack would be placed over the top and I was perched on top. I can remember my rear end getting so cold. I think I was the weight on the churn because of my wide bottom. My uncles would take turns turning the churn. When they could not turn the crank any more the ice cream was done. My four aunts and one uncle would go on day trips to the mountains in North Carolina. There would be two or three cars traveling along. We would always have fried chicken and would stop on the side of the road where there was picnic tables. One time I remember stopping on the road side up next to a mountain. It was so cold we like to froze eating. My uncle loved to listen to Bob Poole's gospel singing on Sunday mourning's when we were at the lake. It came on about 9:00 am. He would go to Sunday School and Church and I would go with him. I remember going to an all night Bob Poole gospel singing at the Memorial Auditorium in Greenville. We lasted to about 11:30 and came home.
One time our families went to hear Billy Graham when he came to the old Textile Hall in Greenville in February of 1966. We were sitting in a hallway on aluminum bleachers. I remember feeling convicted as he preached. I moved out of the stands and stood where I could see him preaching. He later had an alter call and I went forward and accepted Jesus Christ as my savior. I didn't do a lot for the Lord for several years. I remember always enjoying listening to Missionaries when they would speak at church. We had Miss Martha Franks once and she was so excited telling about her adventures in China. One time we had been invited over to a missionary couples house for dinner. When we showed up and she met us at the door there was a look on her face of WOW I forgot you were coming. She whipped up a meal in a hurry. We loved them very much. Once we went to Erskine College to a Missions Conference. Elizabeth Elliot was speaking. I can still see her speaking. I read her book Thru Gates of Splendor. I would suggest you read this book. As I look back, I can see the Lord molding me into a vessel for his use. I had and still have a lot of flaws that need molding. My prayer is to remain flexible and moldable so God can fill me with all he has plans for me to hold. In order to be complete in Christ we have to continually die to self. This means we have to seek what Christ wants for us to do in front of the things we want to do. Anything you do or put before God is an idol. God has to be first in our lives. I have tried to always put God first, family second and job third. When you're serving God he may or may not move you to another location to serve. God will provide all our needs according to His riches in glory. God made or controls anything and everything on earth in the whole outer space. Remember, it may not always appear that way, but nothing is done or can be done without his permission.
As I have grown older and realized that there are not many " good " years left as there used to be. I tell people that a life time warranty doesn't mean as much as it use to. We first served in the Ora Associate Reformed Presbyterian. I realized that I was a pew warmer. After Linda and I married I was asked by our preacher Guy Smith to teach a youth ( 13 to 18 years old ).It would be for 4 Sunday nights. He started early working on me to do the class. I kept giving excuses but he kept asking. I finally said I would do it if he would help me get material. He suggested the Ten Commandments and so I proceeded. It was April and cool the first night. When it came time to start we were all ( 6 - 8) sitting around a table. Well I was actually sweating profusely. I was trying to teach and wiping sweat. They realized what condition I was in and finally we all laughed and we were off to the races. Shortly there after the pastor asked if I would teach Y.P.C.U ( Young Peoples Christian Union ) and I accepted. There were a lot of ARP missionaries that spoke at church and we became interested in the Mexican missionary field. We went on a short - term missionary trip for approximately 2 weeks with a ARP group from North Carolina. We mixed pleasure with work and really enjoyed the trip. When we returned home the youth group was excited about what we had done and they also wanted to go. We told them that if they earned the money we would take them. We schedule work outings cooked and server meals at the church. People also donated monies toward the trip. When all was said and done, the monies were there to go on the trip. They all enjoyed it and did presentation for the church. A few years later we carried more youth to visit to mission field in Mexico. I grew a lot in the lord while working with the youth. I/we enjoyed all the weekend retreats and week long summer camps at Bonclarken. Bonclarken was the retreat or campground for the ARP denomination. I basically became one the kids. One summer Sr. high camp there was an after hour shaving cream fight. After it was over I was in the cabin shower bathing and singing and the Erskine College Chaplin look in. When he saw that I was an " adult " he just shook his head and walked out. I think he was going to bust some youth for being out after hours. The Youth were responsible for the Community Christmas party at the ORA schoolhouse. It was really fun planning and pulling them off.
Some time during this time frame the Lord was working on me. I laid down beside our bed and prayed for Him to use me. In the next few weeks our church bulletin had an insert in it about thinks that were going on in the world. I read it and it had a 2 or 3 sentenance excerpt about Prison Fellowship. This was a ministry started by Chuck Colson. When I read this I knew this was what I was supposed to do. I called the number in Washington and the put me in touch with the state director. He gave me a name of someone local that had been going in. I got in touch with the guy and he was planning to go in and show The Cross and the Switchblade film in a few weeks. I went in with him and as we were coming out I asked him when he was going in again. He said that he didn't know. I called the Prison Fellowship director back and asked him when I could go in again. He said anytime I wanted to that I was now the Prison Fellowship Coordinator for The Dutchman Prison. Wow, how fast things can happen. Over the years we grew up to 8 -10 volunteers going in for bible study with 50 - 90 inmates. The prison just had a security fence around it and was minimum security when I started. It finally two high fences with razor wire between and on the two fences. Prison Fellowship believed in leaving your denominational views at the gate and just teaching Jesus Christ born, died and resurrected. Amen ! I grew in the lord a lot talking with volunteers from different denominations and also from participating in Prison Fellowship functions. I had the opportunity to go to a conference in Washington DC. I also met Chuck Colson. He was a Class Act. We also went to several week end state training with other PF volunteers. It was held at the Sled Training Center in Columbia, S.C. We were in the prison ministry for over 25 Years. I say we because Linda was involved with PF Angel Tree and also having early meals on Thursday nights. the last few years inmate attendance was really low and I was the only volunteer. There was a preaching service and it had good attendance. Three guys came regular and we had good personal bible studies. Sometimes one of them had a personal problem. We addressed the issue scripturally. I always believed in being flexible. When someone is hurting Jesus stopped to help them.
At times I was the only in my class. I would read my bible. I began to wonder if God wanted me to stop or quit the bible study. I think it was a time for me to go and study when no one came. It's hard to stop something you know God called you into. I would go 3 or 4 times and no one would come. I believe that Jesus would have came and died for just one person. I would say to myself, if no one comes in seven weeks I will know to get out. about the 5 th or 6 th week some one would come. they may come with a problem or just want to talk with someone. It went on for maybe 2 or 3 years this way. I'm not really sure, I don't keep up with time. One day the Chaplin called and told me that the Federal Government was getting into the requirements for volunteers that go into prisons. He said that they had lost my volunteer information and that I needed to resubmit again. I have had to do this before. He said that he would call me when I was approved. The call never came so I took it as God's way of removing me from my prison ministry. After serving as youth leaders at Ora we felt it was time to give up the position. Along the way we felt God leading us to help the youth of Laurens. There was a lot of publicity of teen hanging out on the square and leaving a lot of trash when they left. We felt God's leading to do something. We searched and found several Christian Coffee Houses. We visited several but they didn't seem like something we want to become involved with. We searched the building around the square but none seem to be ? The Lord lifted the burden to pursue this interest.
I/we were wanting to become more evangelistic. We were invited by a Gideon to come and hear him speak. He was a Prison Fellowship Volunteer I had become very close to. He said he was going to speak at the Laurens Wesleyan Church. I had driven past it all my life but hadn't recognized it as a church. Our family went and heard him speak. the minister and people made us feel welcome. The pastor apologized for not preaching but I explained that we had come to hear our friend preach. He talked briefly about the Gideon's then preached a sermon. We felt lead to go back and visit again. Eventually we decided to join. It was very difficult leaving Ora. My mother was going there, my daddy and his parents and kin were buried there. We had a lot of friends there. Let's just say it was one of the most difficult things I/we had ever done. Some time after we joined the Laurens Wesleyan Church I was asked to substitute " once " for a lady in the young adult class. Before I could turn around, I was the fully time teacher. I still don't know what happened.
The church had a vivid youth bus ministry. We became teachers. Some of the kids didn't act like the church kids we were used to. Any kid who wanted to get on the bus would come. I remember having to physically restrain a youth while his sister was kicking the tar our of my shins. We didn't realize it at the time but the Lord was molding us for our duty at Straight Street. I don't remember all the circumstances, but a rather vibrant youth missed the bus and rode his bike. After the service the bus pulled out of the parking lot. this youth ran along beside the bus and some one pulled him into the window. I don't think the driver saw it happen. This youth was later hit by a car and killed while walking the street. I wonder if he had accepted Jesus Christ as his savior. We enjoyed our education with the youth. Looking back, God was giving us a sample or exposing us to the same type of youth that we would be seeing at Straight Street. We would have never had this experience in our old church.
We were invited to attend the wedding of a youth in Lynchburg Virginia. He had been up there and been to some youth center. He had been volunteering there. He told several times about the center and that we ought to visit it. I just kind listened politely. When we went up there we had a spare evening he wanted to takes us over there. It was called Straight Street and the decor was like a street. There was a Volkswagen car coming out of the wall. The kids were having fun playing games and just hanging around. The leader, Rick Ouimet stopped the activities and brought all the youth into one room. He then proceeded to have a devotional. He called it Straight Talk. He told us later than he covered a lot of topics that the youth were exposed to. Rick was saved and followed the Lords leading in starting the first Straight Street. Rick did a lot of trial and error with things at the youth center. He actually wrote a manual to help with others that wanted to start a Straight Street. We were sitting at a table that night a girl came and sat with us. We talked to her about the youth center and ask a lot of questions. We asked her if she thought we should open one in our town and she said yes. For the next several years the lord brought my thoughts to the youth center and showed me all the time that would be involved. I just kind of cooked or stewed for the next few years. One day Rick called me and we discussed the youth center. I remember him saying to me, " if you are ever going to do it now is the time ". I told him that we would proceed. We followed Rick direction and advise. We scheduled four couples along with Rick for a meeting at our house. Rick presented the Straight Street program. It was a cold snowy afternoon. Rick suggested we schedule a meeting at the library and invite the local leaders of the community. We did this and Rick presented what we wanted to do. Rick suggested that we get another couple to commit also with us to start the venture. We are thankful that David and Judy Humphries accepted the call. Straight Street would not have happened if it had not been for the dedication of them to the cause.
I have worked where I am for 45 years. There have been good time and bad times. You have to do what the Lord wants you to do. It doesn't matter whether it's a ministry to go into or where you work. At one time I tried to find a job elsewhere. I was sick and tired of who I was working for. To make a long story short, the Lord was disciplining me because I had acquired a nasty attitude. When the Lord showed me that I needed to pray for the person or persons that my attitude was centered on. The Lord gave me peace. Looking back, I can see why the Lord wanted me to stay where I was. The last few years I have been wondering what or if I should retire from my public job.
We have been financially supporting several ministries over the years. One very good one We support is Gospel For Asia. I was listening to the radio during lunch and Toccoa Falls Christian radio station was talking about them. I looked at their website and read almost all of their articles. I think I viewed all of K.P. Yohannen's videos. I read his books, No Longer A Slumdog and Revolution in World Missions. I would recommend all Christians read these books. I decided to place the books on out table at the gourd shows we go to. We distributed a good many books to people. I read on their website where people doing volunteer work with their organization. I talked with them about becoming a volunteer but the Lord had another direction.
A New Venture
We have also been supporting another Christian organization called JAARS. We visited the JAARS center in Waxhaw North Carolina about 25 years ago. They have JAARS's Days where you can see what their organization is doing. You can also ride in a helicopter or small plane for a small cost. We had two daughters with us then. Linda flew with Mary in a small plane and Lorie and I flew in a helicopter. We receives JAARS newsletters and in one letter the said that they were planning to reach all the language groups that did not have the Gospel in their language by 2025. In one correspondence they said they were trying to raise xx dollars and xx people for the ministry. I thought about the letter for some time. I could see how they could raise money but how do you raise people up. I made a donation and enclosed a note stating, " I could see how you could raise money but how do you raise people up". I received a call from one person that said so and so was out but she would have them contact me when they returned. When I talked with this lady she told me about their Advocates program and what they were trying to do. She volunteered to send some material pertaining to this and I accepted. I read the material and decided I would like for Linda and I to visit the JAARS center. It was about a month or two before I asked Linda if she wanted to go. She said yes so we planned to drive up one afternoon, visit the next day and then drive to Charleston South Carolina for the weekend. We generally go to Charleston every on our anniversary. I broke the news about what I was considering doing. She told me that she wasn't looking for another job. Linda has kept our local grandchildren and is currently keeping one. On top of that she also does the washing, boxing and shipping of gourds that we sell.
I will be 66 years old this summer. In my thoughts I have a few " good " or what I would consider productive years left. To me , productive years are when you still have your capacity to function, make rational decisions and live a " productive " life. You'll notice good and productive are in parenthesis. Being good and productive changes to different levels as you body grows older. I would also like to say, you can be the most productive anyone can ever be when your are incapacitated, can't speak but are praying to God for other people.
I am an Advocate for JAARS. As a JAARS Advocate, I am really an Advocate for the people of the world that do not have God's word in the language. JAARS is an organization that helps missionaries that live with people and compose the God's Word into their language. It supports them from transportation to linguistic training. JAARS helps missionaries translate God's word to the people who don't have the resources to have it.
When I meet Jesus, I would not want to stand before Him or the throne of God giving an account of myself if I had not done all that God called me to do. I would like to spend the active years I have left devoting more time to serving God. Serving as a JAARS Advocate is what I believe God has call me to do. I am preparing by learning all I can about JAARS, Wycliffe Global and SIL ( Summer Institute of Linguistics ).
Psalm 84:10 B
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
Matthew 20: 28
just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
I want to be a servant of Jesus Christ.
I have included contact information on JAARS along with other useful information. I encourage you to search JAARS website at www.jaars.org . Pray and seek how you can come along and help those without the Word attain the Word.
I am also available to help you in any way I can. Please call or email me. My phone # is 864-682-5251 and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well, I now know how JAARS is going to raise the people up.