THE LIFE OF GEORGE A. MILES
This is an attempt to summarize some of the highlights of my life.
Unfortunately, I never kept a daily diary because I never intended to review my
years in this manner. However, three reasons have urged me on. First, my
daughters would like me to do it. Second, my involvement in the college and its
forerunners for approximately 49 years may add some items of interest to our
history. Third, God's dealing with each of us is a lesson in His ways that
influence others, especially the younger generation.
My father, Lester Daniel Miles, was born June 27,1875, on a farm in West
Olive, MI. His father Charles was one half Dutch. His mother Frances was
English. Charles enlisted at age 18 to serve in the Union Army in the Civil War.
It is known that on two occasions he nearly lost his life. The first occurred while
he was serving in the artillery. He was a horseman whose responsibility it was
to transport the guns from one position to another. At the Battle of Gettysburg,
he left his horses in the charge of another for relief. Soon thereafter, the horses
and his relief were destroyed by a shell. Another time, he was lying behind a
huge boulder when a shell exploded in front of him. His hair was singed but he
The family's 160 acre farm at West Olive was probably a homestead given
to Civil War veterans. It was poor land but they made the best of it. There were
no churches in the area and neither Charles nor Frances reflected any spiritual
influence from a local source. In those days, there were evangelists across
America who traveled from one school house to another holding evangelistic
meetings. When my father was nine or ten, a meeting was being held in the local
school by a man named Jake Mabrey. Charles and some other farmers decided
to go and break up the meeting. God had other plans so Charles, being
captivated by the Word, trusted Christ as his Savior at age 38. When this story
was related to me, my father's younger brother Fred said that Charles was a
completely changed man. He began daily Bible reading and prayer in the home
which he continued until his death at age 75. The effect of this conversion on my
father is unknown except that he seemed to have gained a respect for the Bible in
his home. Frances never went along with her husband's faith and my father
wouldn't have been aware of any changes as he ran away at 14 in order to live
with his Uncle Ben in Rives Junction, MI.
My mother, Susie Rosalin Truax, was born in Wayland, MI on April 30,
1878. Her father, George Albert, was a descendant of Huguenots who had fled
France to escape religious persecution. They came by way of Holland and along
the way changed their name from Detuax to Truax. He found himself in New
York there he met his wife Amelia. After the Civil War, they secured a
homestead in Wisconsin. George moved first and Amelia followed for their
marriage in Grand March, Wisconsin in 1868. (Legend has it, however, that
Amelia met George in a small hotel dining room where he was staying overnight
on his way to Wisconsin. She was his waitress and accepted his proposal of
marriage, later joining him in WI for the marriage.) After a short stay in WI, they
moved to Wayland, MI where they secured a farm. Later, he opened a furniture
store in Wayland and they were known to be well off compared to the farmers in
My father somehow wandered to Wayland and became acquainted with
the Truaxes- and with his future wife Susie. There is some question as to what
was the greatest spiritual influence in their lives. There were a few Methodist
preachers in Wayland who influenced them but Susie's brother Bert seems to
have been the key to her spiritual life as well as to the spiritual life of their sister
Bessie. Bert was closely linked to the Mell Trotter mission in Grand Rapids and
his testimony was strong enough to have affected my father as well.
My grandfather George must have been an interesting challenge for the
traveling evangelists of his day. While not a heavy drinker, he habitually came
home tipsy whenever he would visit town. Nevertheless, all evangelists who
visited the Methodist church in town would find George seated on the front pew.
Everyone pleaded for him to go to the altar but always he refused. But every
opportunity, there he was on the front row. I have often wondered why he
seemed to love the preaching of the Word but would never respond to an
invitation. Perhaps, somewhere he saw profession without possession and
determined never to be a hypocrite. Bessie did ask him whether he believed
when, at the age of 83, he was bed-ridden because of cancer of the hand and arm.
He responded that he did and died two weeks later. Somehow, I think he did
believe unto salvation.
Bessie was the enthusiast and was quite persistent when she put her mind
to it. Since they lived on a farm, new clothes were rare. She wanted a new dress
and begged and begged without results. One day, her dad drove up to a closed
gate and was on top of a load of hay. He called to Bessie to open the gate to
which she replied, "I will when you promise to get me that dress." He became
furious and commanded her to open the gate only to receive the same reply. He
sputtered and finally said, "OK, open the gate." The next day when he drove to
town, she was seated beside him and returned dressed in a new dress.
Lester and Susie eventually made wedding plans. Before their marriage,
however, Dad wanted to make his fortune so he secured a job in the construction
of the continental railroad west of Laramie, Wyoming. Shortly before the
wedding, a typhoid fever epidemic broke out in the construction camp and the
camp was quarantined. Determined not to miss his wedding, Dad and another
fellow decided to walk out at night and snuck back to Laramie carrying their
small trunks on their backs. Lrom there, they caught a train back to Michigan
and Dad and Mother were married on December 26,1900. They were married in
the Methodist church in town and were strong Christians, involved in the
ministry of the local assembly. Mother played the pump organ and sang alto in
the choir. Dad led the singing and sang duets with mother.
After marriage, our parents went to live on a farm near Dorr. Having
been raised on farms, both were farmers at heart. It was at this time that the first
of seven children, Nelson Appleton, was born on May 9,1902. Six inches of
snow and Uncle Bert welcomed Nelson as Bert suggested the name after a
general who directed the Spanish-American War.
In 1903, the young family moved to Wayland. Dad was developing an
urge for the business world and, when I was born on April 28,1904, Dad was
buying and selling eggs. As a result, he was not at home when I put in my
appearance and no doctor was readily available. Fortunately, Grandma Truax
was there and dealt with the situation by running out of the house and up and
down the street screaming. This must have drawn the attention of a doctor who
come and brought peace out of the chaos. Anyhow, I survived the event.
The business idea was in full force by this time for my father so we moved
to Grand Rapids where he operated a meat market. Nelson had also caught the
business bug and made his first significant deal of many in his long career as a
lawyer. Apparently, he had been given a new sled for Christmas and was out
playing when a Polish boy came along with a ball and offered a trade. Nelson
considered this an even swap and the deal was made. Our parents, of course,
did not agree but the other boy was nowhere to be found. To this day, Nelson is
trying to bring legal action against every Pole in Grand Rapids. It was also
during this time that Charles Frederick was born on January 29,1906.
The meat business was not much more successful for Dad, so we moved
back to Wayland in 1907 o Grandpa Truax's 160 acre farm, three miles west of
town. We had over 20 cows to be milked by hand and all activity focused
around those animals. Mother shared in the milking. She was up in the morning
at 4:30 and the milking went until 8:00. The daily routine consisted of carrying
the three boys to the barn and putting them in a big box so they wouldn't wander
and then carrying us back to the house twice a day. Sometimes I wonder how
she ever survived.
Ruth Almira was born December 20,1907 and it was about this time that I
begin to remember things that were happening on the farm. One of the most
vivid memories was the butchering days and the squealing of the hogs.
Butchering was a community event as a scalding kettle was readied with a fire
under it. After slaughtering, the hogs would be put in the scalding water after
which the hair would be scraped off and the hogs would be cut up. I also
remember the threshing days. We would run down to the road and watch the
threshing machine approach, then find a place where we could watch. The
wheat bundles were pitched into the separator and the golden streams of wheat,
to our amazement, came out the other end.
One time I could not be found. My parents searched the pig pen, the barn
yard where the bull was and even lifted the big stone from the cover of the water
tank that fed the water to the cows and horses. No Georgie! Finally, Dad
remembered the cat and her kittens and how much I loved to play with them. I
had rolled under the door to the machine shed. The stored scalding kettle was
propped up about 12 inches and under the kettle they found our cat, her kittens,
and me curled up and asleep.
I also enjoyed filling silos. Several neighbors would help as an engine was
used to chop the corn and blow it up a pipe into the top. I have never figured
out why cows like that vile smelling stuff. And I always pitied people who grew
up in the city. Have you ever followed your father plowing and walk in that
fresh furrow with bare feet? Or follow the dog when he went to get the cows?
How about picking apples in your own orchard or hickory nuts and walnuts?
They were saved for winter nights when we had popcorn. I also loved being in
the hay mow and trampling down the hay or riding our old horse Jim to the
barn. Some folks just don't know what fun is.
Winters were harsh in Michigan. The snow banks were higher than our
heads. That didn't change the fact that we had to go to school and Nelson and I
used to walk the half mile to the schoolhouse. We went barefoot most of the time
and one day we had to stop in a friend's house halfway home as our feet could
no longer take the cold from the snow. Dad came and picked us up. The other
big memory from our early school days was the outdoor toilets. The older boys
had to scrub down the boys' toilet and I've always held a grudge against our
woman teacher for that chore. I remember the big stone we used to pass, the
knapsack song book, and our slates on which we would write. That old one
room school has been gone for some time.
Dad had finally given up on the business dream and instead wanted his
own farm. So, he acquired the "farm on the hill" in 1910 about three miles south
east of Wayland. Tressie Delphine was born there on June 21,1912. Nelson also
experienced two severe threats to his life. He stepped on a plank with two spikes
sticking up. It pierced his foot from the instep to the top. Pneumonia also
overtook him and our parents were up all night with hot compresses until the
fever broke about 4 in the morning. In case that weren't enough trauma for one
childhood, Ruth tried to kill him by dropping a large rock on his head.
The farm offered several opportunities for exposure to animals. Mother
asked Nelson and me to kill our first chicken for dinner. I held the chicken's
head on the block and Nelson swung the ax. He partly severed the head and I
immediately dropped the squawking chicken. Death came slowly and the poor
thing finally expired after covering the entire back yard with blood. Our dad
then gave us a pet lamb. We tied it to a tree while we went to church, only to
return to a strangled animal laying on the ground. The second pet lamb
experienced the same fate.
I had an early lesson in choosing good company. We had a neighbor aged
11 with whom we used to spend time. Nelson was 9 at the time and Chuck and I
were younger. One day, we were all down in the woods and the neighbor boy
showed us how to smoke grapevine. We did not let Chuck try it but we
promised him a wagon for Christmas if he would not tell. Anxiously, we started
home when Chuck took off and arrived before us. When we pulled in, Dad
knew all the details and we were met at the door with the razor strap, the chief
punishing weapon. We bawled before and quite a while after the treatment. I
admit that one experience cured me from smoking for life.
Winter arrived and we had a Sunday School outing at our farm. Dad
made a big sled and plowed a nice hill for sliding. After the guests had left, Dad
took Mother to the hill to give her the fun of a nice sled ride. She got on. Dad
shoved her down the hill where the sled hit a big rock and threw Mother
through the air. he landed on her back and was badly hurt. It caused her to be
in bed for a time and her back troubled her the rest of her life.
We traveled to and from church in the sleigh in the winter. Dad would
carry his shot gun on moon bright nights and shoot rabbits along the way. In the
summer, the wildlife of choice was snakes and our dog loved to hunt rattlers. He
killed quite a few and Dad had a can full of their tails. Nelson and I were
responsible for moving the sheep to another pasture when we encountered a big
blue racer. I am sure it went between our legs and into a brush pile. We were
barefoot and had to be careful so we ran and told Dad. He came with the shot
gun, jumped on top of the brush pile and startled the snake into giving up his
hiding place. That huge snake had a short life from that point on as Dad was a
good shot. Dad also fished on the lake behind the farm and we had fish on the
table with regularity.
Summers included playing in the hay mound, straw stack and climbing
trees. We also used to play with a discarded buggy frame which had wheels
with part of the rim broken on one wheel. Never mind the danger, we used to
belly flop this on the hills. We also saw Haley's comet when it lit up the night
Food was great on the farm. We loved coming home form school for cold,
leftover pancakes. With a little butter and brown sugar, these were a great snack.
Sunday nights always feature corn meal mush, coated with butter and sugar.
Dad tapped maple trees for maple syrup and sugar and we learned early to hand
churn cream for our butter supply. One year, Dad had a terrific crop of potatoes-
only to be wasted on pigs because there was no ready market.
Mother got her first man powered washing machine while we lived on the
hill. We still took our Saturday night bath in the wash tub and mother would
hang our long-john fleece-lined underclothes out to dry in freezing weather.
They got stiff but they were dry.
Dad was going through another transformation. He was becoming a
Christian example in the church at Wayland and was also becoming a good Bible
teacher. Our home was full of songs of Zion. We children loved to sing choruses
and memorized the Golden text each week. Dad also began to do a little
preaching. God used an incident on the farm to challenge Dad. Dad drove his
prize horse to Wayland. On the way home the horse died of a heart attack. I can
still see Dad, dejected, walking home with the bridle on his arm. I believe this
was God's way of speaking to him about the ministry.
In late 1911, we moved off the farm to Wayland again where Dad worked
with Uncle Bert and Mr. Clark in building houses. Avis Frances was born here
on December 5,1912. In 1912, Mr. Clark asked Dad to run his lumber and coal
company for him. This business was Dad's vocation until he entered the
ministry full-time in 1916. The move to Wayland also allowed for more
involvement in the church. Dad was teaching more and also began to preach in
churches to supply empty pulpits. The lumber company was prospering and
Mother was able acquire some things she always wanted: a piano, some
overstuffed furniture, and a beautiful new home.
Dad was teaching us to work and to play. We helped around the lumber
yard, had jobs weeding onions, picked cucumbers, worked in the garden -and
then went fishing. Our favorite sport was baseball. I learned to make the balls
out of string with a small rubber ball center.
At the age of ten, two things happened to me physically. First, I got my
first pair of glasses which I used mostly for reading. I also had my first attack of
pleurisy. Both of these weaknesses were to follow me all my life.
We had animals even though we lived in town. The day our dear dog
Ringer died, we had an official burial with the girls shedding most of the tears.
We also had a cow and chickens. It was Nelson's job to take the cow to pasture.
One evening while bringing the cow home, another boy with his cow ahead
started running to cross the Interurban tracks ahead of an approaching car. Or
cow followed and started to run. While the other boy crossed safely, our cow
dragged Nelson who let go just as the car hit and killed the cow. Uncle Fred
sued but lost the case to the company.
Chuck loved our delivery horse Frank, who had been trained as a fire
station horse. Chuck loved to go to the barn and bring Frank our and hitch him
to the wagon for Dad. One day, the horse had his head in the hay and when
Chuck touched him he kicked. Dad found Chuck crying and laying under
Frank's feet with the horse looking down as if to say, "It was an accident". Frank
also had a run in with Mother. She had a little garden near the well where Frank
got his water. One noon when he had his bridle off, the became foxy, began to
prance and got in Mother's garden. He ripped it to pieces, just having fun.
We went to church together and filled the pew. Whispering and touching
each other was strictly forbidden. All it took was a look from Dad because his
punishment was quick and severe. We also enjoyed Sunday school. There were
two types of boys in town: those who went to Sunday school and those who did
not. The record is that every one of those who did not attend Sunday school
ended up in the penitentiary while none who attended found themselves in a
similar state. A good lesson.
Rabbit river, a little creek on the edge of town, was both our swimming
hole and fishing pond. For Nelson, it was something else as he built a canoe
from scratch, sent it on its maiden voyage and navigated that little river. His
canoe also took its fatal plunge there.
When we were each 11 and 12, Nelson, Chuck and I went to spend two
summers at the farm with Grandpa and Grandma Miles. Grandpa died the last
summer Chuck was there. We loved it because we learned how to drive the
horses, churn the butter, pick blackberries and follow Grandpa everywhere. One
summer, I committed a great sin. I loved to drive the team of horses. Grandpa
had harvested a field of wheat but wanted to rake it and save the stray straw. He
permitted me to do the job. A two wheel rake is a very unstable vehicle. I had
finished the field except for one strip between two trees. I was sure the rake
would go between them but when I attempted it a wheel caught a tree and the
tongue broke. I stopped the horses and freed the wheel, then mounted the rake
and attempted to drive it with a broken tongue. Since i was unstable on the seat,
I slipped down off the seat to operate the trip. As soon as the horses started, the
broken butt of the tongue attached to the rake went up in the air and came down
on the back of one horse. Immediately the horses were scared and
uncontrollable so they bolted. I was thrown forward and became entangled in
the rake tines. Eventually, the tines bounded up and set me free. The horses
ended up in a barbed wire fence and I went bawling toward the house. Grandpa
came running and asked, "What happened?" My big lie was, "I don't know!" I
escaped with cuts and torn clothes, but all that summer I continued that lie of
feigned ignorance. Grandpa died never hearing the truth from me. That lie
produced a whole family of lies and was a snare to me. The night I came to the
Lord at age 26, the first thing I asked the Lord was for forgiveness for that lie and
deliverance from a lying tongue.
Across the road from us lived a man the boys did not like. Halloween was
the time to get his wagon and make it hard for him to get. Sometimes it would
take the boys all night but they always seemed to succeed. The other significance
of that night was that everyone's outdoor toilets got turned over.
Nelson and I joined the boy scouts and our first experience in camping
was the Boy Scout Camp at Gun Lake. While there, John was born and Grandpa
drove down to take us home. I guess we were supposed to celebrate John's
arrival but it ruined our camping experience. John was born July 1,1916, the last
of seven children.
While preparing for a Lourth of July parade in town, Nelson and I went to
the park to get some pretty leaves to decorate our little wagon. Nelson climbed a
tree to reach the best but fell and landed on a small tub breaking both arms and
nearly both legs. He was out of commission for several weeks.
Before we left Wayland, both Nelson and I had acquired musical
instruments. Nelson had a cornet and I an alto horn. The objective of these two
particular instruments was that we would play duets. I don't remember ever
taking a lesson but somehow we learned to read music a little and develop some
ability. I guess we thought we could play these horns without any instructor and
eventually we did. However, when we arrived in Stevensville, there was a band
of German immigrants who welcomed us into their band and taught us to do
very well, the me practiced a while then smoked their pipes a while before
resuming practice. The band gave concerts on the main street of town and we
thought we were big stuff.
One of our favorite Sunday school socials was the box social in which the
girls prepared a box lunch for two and decorated it. These boxes were then sold
to the highest bidder. Somehow, and somewhat too often, the girls let it be
known to their boyfriends which was their box. So they would try to out bid
everyone else on that box. The other fellows would continue to bid until he
would go bankrupt. All proceeds went to the church.
Uncle Ed, Bessie's husband, was the first to own an automobile, a 1912
Buick Roadster. It was the talk of the town. Grandpa George was the second
member of our family to own a car. He got a Model T Ford in 1916. With gravel
roads, the top speed was 25 MPH and he hung on the steering wheel as if he was
scared to death that it would get away from him. When he got it going,
sometimes he would forget how to stop it and end up in a ditch. Moving at such
speed was very exciting.
In 1913,1 saw my first aeroplane. It landed in a cow pasture on the edge
of town and had a terrible time getting back in the air. The runway had a few
cow tracks and other cow stuff and they could not get up to flight speed. It was
fun to watch nevertheless.
TO STEVENSVILLE AND TO HIGH SCHOOL
Dad was talking and praying about the ministry with his pastor. Rev.
Gray was encouraging, but Mother was resisting. One day about that time I
entered the house and Pastor Gray was speaking with Mother. She was
weeping. I heard him say, "Susie, if God should take one of your children,
would you go?" She replied, "God does not need to take any of my children. I
will go." Within four months, we were packed and we moved to Dad's first full¬
time ministry. The date was September 1916 when we moved to Stevensville.
This was the turning point in our parents' lives. No man had a greater
desire to preach and serve God than Dad and he gave himself without reserve.
Mother's dedication equaled or surpassed even his. While both had very limited
education and no formal training for the ministry, they were successful because
of complete surrender of their bodies, unquestioned dedication to the Savior,
faithfulness in prayer, happiness in spirit, love of people, belief in the Bible,
separation from the world and holiness in life. They began evangelism by
holding prayer meetings in the home of the unsaved.
Dad's salary at Stevensville was $650 a year. He owned a Model T and
raised a family of nine on that salary. The boys picked fruit and saved our
money for clothes and college. Stevensville was in the heart of fruit country and
we picked strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, grapes, peaches and apples. In
the winter, we worked in a crate factory, making containers for the fruit. Mother
canned fruit and vegetables and we had a garden. People were generous and
showered us with all kinds of produce as God's provision. We were allowed to
pick the berry patches after the profitable season was over. One of Dad's
churches sent us a wagon load of meat and vegetables in the fall. Even our
bicycles were made of discarded parts and we instituted anything that could be
used to build a workable machine.
At Stevensville, life took on a new dimension. I was 12 and we were now
preacher's kids, learning that carried responsibility and occasional "persecution."
Our public school was small. Survival of the fittest was the rule. Nelson made
his mark in football. He was very daring and I always admired his courage, but
this caused him to flirt with trouble. During our teen years, Nelson and Chuck
formed a coalition against me. They slept together and made me fight for every
inch of ground.
It was perhaps the greatest privilege God granted to me and to my
brothers and sisters to be born into a home where both father and mother were
devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ and looked upon their children as gifts from
God. They tenderly nurtured us in the fear of the Lord and sought to bring us to
a saving faith as well as a yielded heart to the will of God. After I came to know
the Lord in 1931, my mother became my spiritual companion and we had many
occasions together sharing our relationships to Christ. On one occasion she said
to me, "I gave you to the Lord before you were born." She indicated to me that
she desired her children to serve the Lord and wanted her boys to be preachers.
The discipline and teaching of our home built our character. Obedience
was number one with punishment swift and corrective. Daily family altar left a
lifetime pattern. Memorizing Scripture was a constant sanctifying power. With
seven children, there was ample opportunity for us to interact, building
responsibility to each other and the family unit. We had regular responsibilities
and learned to save and use our money wisely.
We never had a lot of money so by present standards, we were very poor.
However, so were most of our relatives and friends so fortunately we were not
all that aware of our poverty. We always had enough to eat and never took a
meal without thanksgiving to God or the family altar, which left a permanent
mark on our lives.
Some of the characteristics of Mother and Dad make it easier to evaluate
things that happened later in my own life. The older I become, the more I
understand the saying, "Like father, like son." Dad was the oldest of five
children. In those days, it was understood that the oldest child would be needed
to support the younger children and he became the right arm of his father in
executing the duties entailed on the farm. As a result, formal education was
limited to those times when farm duties were not so heavy. The essentials,
reading, writing and arithmetic, constituted education and the aptitude of the
child determined the amount. The development of knowledge was limited to
the few books available for borrowing for, apart from the Bible, few books were
ever purchased. New was gathered by the weekly visit to town where gossip ran
wild. Farmers talked over the fence while resting their horses and there were no
telephones, radios and rarely a newspaper.
For two people with a very elementary education, limited economic
opportunity, originating in poor farmer families, I think our parents were the
greatest parents anyone could ever have. They gave us a simple lifestyle, a
spiritual heritage, and moral biblical values. They modeled before us their
dedication to Christ. We have been blessed above measure and shall never cease
to thank God for such a great heritage. Both Dad and Mother considered full
time Christian service the greatest place to serve God.
Dad was a man of action. Mother also was a terrific worker but she was a
woman of prayer and the spiritual force. She was devout and dependent on the
Lord, anxious for heaven, living for her children and concerned for the lost. As
such, she was a great supporter of Dad. She spent much time reading her Bible.
I have known some great givers, but none surpassed our mother.
Our father was an open, friendly man, very industrious, aggressive, and a
good worker with his hands. He was honest to the penny and he taught us to
tithe. He would bring his pay home, spread it out on the table and then take ten
percent for the Lord. He kept it in a baking powder can on the pantry shelf.
When I earned a dime, I asked Mother for a baking powder can and put one
penny in it. The can then went up on the pantry shelf by my father's. I
maintained this practice until I went away to college.
My father might have been a great preacher if he had pursued an
education for he had an excellent mind. He was a true disciple willing to give all
to the Lord. He was used early as a song leader and allowed the Lord to use his
willingness to teach and preach. I see him as a good father. In reflection, it was
Dad's discipline that fashioned our character. No excuses were accepted and
Dad never asked his children to do anything twice. When Dad said, "Get up
boys!", three pairs of feet hit the floor in unison. No whining was tolerated. But,
our parents were fun and the house was always filled with laughter and singing.
As I have already mentioned, one of the most vivid memories of my youth
was the family altar. For eighteen years it emphasized to me the importance of
daily Bible reading and prayer. Mother's praying was always accompanied by
earnest pleading, emotional prayers from the heart. Dad often wept in prayer
and while preaching, teaching us to weep with those who weep and rejoice with
those who rejoice. My parents were friendly, loving and concerned about the
needs of others. Limited in the knowledge of the Scriptures, they still knew the
importance of godly living.
As a leader, Dad drew upon his basic common sense. Since his
congregations were farmers, his formal education was not considered highly
important. He had scriptural goals and directed his churches in evangelism,
sanctification and biblical principles of holy living. He believed the home to be
God's place of instruction for children. The church provided a social life that
encompassed the whole family.
In the pulpit, Dad was a personality. He was not a student, though he
could have been. His world was the outdoors. He loved fishing and hunting,
was a talented carpenter and builder, and he was intelligent, witty and honest-
but not a student. If it had not been for his set of Spurgeon's notes and sermons,
he would have had little to say in the pulpit. However, deep convictions showed
in every public utterance. He may have repeated much, but the truth from his
lips stuck. He loved evangelism because all he needed was a text. It became a
pretext for the same sermon with slightly adjusted Spurgeon outline. He did not
seek to entertain but to convict people of sin. He knew that when truth became a
reality, a person was prepared to listen to what Christ could do. The following
two incidents testify to his tender conscience and character.
When he moved to Delton, Dad took over three churches. He soon
discovered that the business community did not have much respect for
preachers. The former pastor left unpaid personal accounts at several places of
business. He had claimed that the churches owed him money and was therefore
responsible for these accounts. The businesses, however, simply viewed him as a
cheat. As long as these debts remained unpaid, Dad felt he could not effectively
preach in town. Money was scarce during the depression so Dad wrote me
explaining the situation and asking me to loan him the money to pay off the
debts. I was glad to comply and he wrote back that he could now preach
unashamed. In time, he was able to repay the money.
When living in Delton, he was fishing through the ice on January 5. The
bass season ended December 31, but this day he caught a five pound bass. He
put it in his pail and started across the ice for home. The further he progressed,
the greater became the conviction in his heart for breaking the law. Finally, upon
reaching the shore, he could stand it no longer. He quickly returned to the hole
and, as he pushed the bass back in the lake, he breathed a sigh of relief and said,
"Get back in there." On Sunday morning, the reminded the people that he could
never have stood in the pulpit if he had kept that bass. He had to be right with
God to be God's messenger. When he moved to Delton, Dad took over three
churches. He soon discovered that the business community did not have much
respect for preachers. The former pastor left unpaid personal accounts at several
places of business. He had claimed that the churches owed him money and was
therefore responsible for these accounts. The businesses, however, simply
viewed him as a cheat. As long as these debts remained unpaid, Dad felt he
could not effectively preach in town. Money was scarce during the depression so
Dad wrote me explaining the situation and asking me to loan him the money to
pay off the debts. I was glad to comply and he wrote back that he could now
preach unashamed. In time, he was able to repay the money.
Perhaps sharing his weaknesses is not fair. Yet every one of us is beset
with areas of weakness. Dad's determination to obey God was great. His
success was obvious when it is pointed out that he rebuilt and enlarged every
church in which he preached. He turned woodsheds into vibrant Sunday
schools, filled with people. His weakness, however, lay in this same success. He
could have been a good Bible student, but he could not discipline himself to
study. He would drive himself to preach, but not to prepare. He would rather
have the art of oratory than the discipline of study. His other weakness was
neglect of ministerial duties such as visitation and personal witness. His
philosophy of the ministry was too much influenced by men he admired, men
who were specialists in the pulpit. He would give every ounce of his strength to
alter and build churches. On the whole, my dad achieved more with his assets
than most of us and I am very thankful for my godly parents.
Mother was praying that her boys would be preachers. However,
materialism began to influence our lives. High school taught us that we were
being prepared for one of the professions. The crisis in my life came when I was
16 or 17, the spring before graduating from high school. The Methodist churches
in SW Michigan planned a youth rally in a large church in Benton Harbor. We
went along with the young people from church and sat on the main floor while
our parents watched from the balcony. A bishop delivered a challenging address
on giving our lives to Christ with the invitation, "Are you willing to go where
God wants you to go, be what God wants you to be and say what God wants you
today? If so, please come forward." 200 young people went forward and I joined
them. My motivation was tarnished and I thought, "What will my folks think of
me if I don't go?" I had been a good boy, baptized at age 7, obedient always and
I loved them and never wanted to hurt them. As I went down the aisle, I was
saying on the inside, "I will be what God wants me to be, go where He wants me
to go and say what He wants me to say but I am going to be an engineer." There
was no peace in my heart, but I was determined. I thought I was a Christian but
I had no relationship with Christ.
The ages of 16 to 18 are exciting to all young men because this is the
period of physical development into manhood. We are all molded by
competition and seeking ways to excel. Pride and self-ambition played a magical
role as we daily developed our skills, moving up the ladder to excellence. This is
also the critical age of mental development. Few of us realized that this period
would determine our degree of success in the business arena more than any
other. Academic discipline was equally important as that required for sports.
Our instructors were fully aware of this and I am ever grateful to those who
encouraged us to excel. They sought to employ every strategy to enable us to
exercise our mental capacity. Some responded and gained the prize while the
majority saw little value in the effort and joined the crowd that focused on the
physical and despised the intellectual. They chose to live for the pleasure of the
life not realizing their limitation would consign them to a slavery in which they
would for life be entrapped.
A more critical area of development, however, is the spiritual. There
home and family leadership made the difference. As the decades of the
twentieth century have slipped by, the spiritual influence of the family has
gradually diminished and the moral values necessary for society to survive have
bypassed an ever increasing percentage of the population. However, in our
home of seven children, moral strength was maintained by strict discipline.
Certain things were evil such as theater attendance, playing cards, dancing,
gambling, smoking, drinking, and swearing or using indiscreet language. We
were taught to be courteous, pleasant and thankful.
The effect of Dad's ministry on our lives can never be fully realized. The
church and what it stood for fashioned our lives both in activity and purpose.
Everything else took a secondary place. I grew through my teen years with my
father as my pastor and always saw him building. We learned to handle tools as
mature men and helped Dad rebuild all three churches and build a few houses.
Our family became a team, each shouldering their own responsibility. The older
boys protected the girls and respected them, helping us develop into young men.
But our family unit was spiritual which was necessary because of the importance
of separation from the world in our teaching. The other church in town was
German Lutheran and they could not understand our strict lifestyle, so we did
not have much in common with them.
Obviously, knowledge of and adherence to right and wrong made a
distinct social barrier. On the Lord's day, we were not permitted to engage in
sports. This reflected on the church and Dad's ministry, and it built a respect for
the Lord's day. To this day, these standards have had a strong influence on my
manner of life, especially since my conversion. As a youth, I was not strong on
conviction but I was long on obedience.
We lived within three miles of Lake Michigan and it made us enjoy
swimming and fishing. Winters were also different. There was a large inlet lake
between us and Lake Michigan which would freeze 10 to 16 inches thick every
winter. We would fill up the ice storage from there by taking hand saws and cut
the ice into three foot square sections. The horses then pulled the ice up a sluice
into the storage place and the ice was covered with sawdust. Ice boxes in homes
then had the ice delivered daily for cooling.
Mother prepared for winter by canning all the fruit and vegetables in the
area. Seldom did a meal go by without opening two or more cans of something
to feed the nine hungry people. We had lots of fresh baked bread, potatoes and
cabbage but very little meat because of the expense. The winter of 1917-18 was
terribly cold and snowy. Asiatic flu was also epidemic so our doctor was
exhausted and Dad volunteered to drive him around in our Model T.
Amazingly, not one of our doctor's patients died that year.
World War I brought lots of rallies and other patriotic activities to our
town. I was the soloist on such famous songs as "Over There". We were all
urged to knit mittens, sweaters and socks for our troops so that even I became a
pretty good knitter.
High school was drawing to a close and since my favorite subject was
math, I looked forward to becoming a structural engineer. I played on the high
school baseball and basketball teams and enjoyed playing ice hockey on a small
stream in town that froze over in the winter. I wanted to graduate and attend
college or university so I worked at every opportunity to save money with this in
mind. My parents, who never had a chance for education, encouraged all of their
children to pursue college. Since the high school in Stevensville was not
accredited by the university, the five men on the basketball team went to St. Joe
High our senior year in order to be qualified to enter college.
I chose to go to Albion College, a Methodist school where my parents
assumed that I would be fed with the Bible and pursue spiritual goals. They
were sadly ignorant of the facts. Nelson went there for a year and then dropped
out before I enrolled in 1922. I had very little money, but was determined to
make it and soon discovered that most freshmen were as fearful of this new
world as I was. The Zetelethian fraternity pledged me because Nelson had been
a member. I had a small room in the frat house with a gas stove where I cooked
my own meals. Before long, I smelled up the house and was put out of the
cooking business so I had to mop floors at the college cafeteria for my meals.
With a little help from Nelson and from Dad, in addition to working day
and night, I finished Albion in four years. I worked hard to earn money to go to
college and saved every penny possible, spending very little on myself. My
biggest problem was clothes. I had clothed myself with my own earnings from
the age of twelve. Except for the two years at the University of Michigan, I never
borrowed money for education. Uncle Fred loaned me a thousand dollars which
I paid back the first year out of college. My folks were very encouraging but had
limited funds and were not able to help very much. I mailed my laundry home
where Mother did it for me. Dad always had a building job for me during
vacations. Chuck and I worked together nailing roofing boards and mixing
concrete by hand. We also dug ditches and foundations, making our muscles
and backs like steel. We were strong and hard like Dad but Nelson was more
suited to the white collar world and worked in the local bank. Nelson was
nevertheless very interested in my welfare and often shared with me,
occasionally offering a short term loan. He also got me started on a life insurance
policy which I still carry.
For the first two years of college, I was an average student but my
motivation changed and I joined the honor roll my final two. I also played
basketball and baseball on the varsity teams. Fraternity pride was of some help.
Unfortunately, at college I also learned to do things that our parents taught us
were sin and displeasing to God. However, since the crowd was dancing,
playing cards and going to the theater, I soon joined them- but always with a
tinge of guilt. I never was involved with smoking or drinking, bad language or
sex. My home training was so strong on these issues that I never swerved from
the standards set by my parents. I saw these things as ungodly and destructive.
One day, mother reminded me again that she had dedicated me to the
Lord before I was born. That fact always haunted me and often disturbed me
when I thought about God. On another occasion, mother could see my worldly
ways and she wanted to share with me. She captured me and sat me down at the
dining room table for a talk. I don't really remember all she said to me at that
time, but I discovered for the first time that because my parents were not highly
educated that they were inferior to the university and college professors. All of
the training restrained my living, but I cannot recall that either Father or Mother
ever challenged me to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I could never
say with assurance "I am saved", even though I always thought of myself as a
I always honored the Bible, made brief prayers and read the Scriptures out
of the habits formed the first eighteen years of my life. I attended church
regularly, joined churches, and attended youth groups wherever I was but
always within the Methodist church. I don't think that any church I have
attended had a more friendly attitude towards Christians in other denominations
and others were always welcome in our assemblies.
My contact with the opposite sex was never very prominent while in
school. My first date was forced on me by my fraternity as a freshman. I can
remember the fear of that evening. I wondered what one did on a date, what
they talked about, and how you were supposed to say good night. Every time I
thought about it, I wanted to back out. I eventually invited the girl who sat next
to me in English and soon discovered that she was greener than even I was. She
shocked me when she consented to escort me. After that disaster, I dated only
when the fraternity had parties. First of all, it was too expensive for my limited
resources. Secondly, I had determined that nothing would stand in the way of
After a year, our fraternity joined the national fraternity, TKE. Although
the fraternity caused me to take on some worldly practices, there were some men
there with good moral and spiritual values. One of my roommates was Harold
McCracken, a conservative man with deep convictions concerning a righteous
life. I admired his convictions and he was a great stabilizing factor while I was at
Albion. This was in contrast with my textbooks which taught the Bible was full
of contradictions and undermined its authority. I maintained infrequent
correspondence with him until his death in 1985.
Another fraternity brother who brought stability to my college life was
Harold Bowers. Harold was "quite vexed by the filthy conversation" of the
brothers. We looked upon him as an ultra-conservative but his steadfast
convictions did much to stabilize our lives and restrain us from foolishness. I
was in the "middle-of-the-road clique" headed by Victor Boyer. Nothing was too
bad if you didn't get too deeply involved. A person must have some fun in life.
Nevertheless, I found myself taking a stand against some evil habits. My parents
were greatly opposed to the dancing, cards and theater but I compromised
because it was a way of life for college students. So, my peers dictated my way
of life even thought there was continual guilt that I could not shake.
The Lord never left me alone. I would awaken at night and repeat that
experience at Peace Temple where my stubborn will refused to consider God's
will. I would often be under great conviction and break our in perspiration and
defiantly say, "I am not going to be a preacher or a missionary; I am going to be
an engineer." My later conclusion was that I had never been saved for that
assurance never came until January, 1931. I cannot recall anyone challenging me
about personal salvation through my college and university days. However, the
underlying influence of my home never left me during those years.
Baseball was my love and I excelled in hitting and stealing bases. If I
failed to score after reaching first base by a walk or hit, the coach would chide me
that Ty Cobb was never left on base. At times he would have me steal three
bases on consecutive pitches in order to score.
I also had a love for music, something gained from my parents. At
Albion, I decided to take voice lessons. The cost was above my means, but my
teacher seemed to think I had some natural ability and therefore encouraged me.
When I was financially able after college, I studied voice for five years. The Lord
used this and my trombone greatly after I was saved. Because no one else was
available, I played the bass horn in the college marching band for the home
football games. This experience developed my ability to read music and kept me
involved in music. Fraternity life contributed to my development in
communication and desire to succeed and be my best academically.
After graduation from Albion, I enrolled in the University of Michigan in
order to complete my education towards a structural engineering degree. I
completed the five year course for my BS in Civil Engineering in one and a half
years then went to graduate school for one semester. In all, I completed two
years at Michigan, graduating in June, 1928.
While at Michigan, another influence in my life appeared. I attended the
First M. E. Church in Ann Arbor. The preacher there left me with the impression
that the Bible was just another human book. He must have been a modernist.
His influence began the first doubts I had ever had about the Bible. At the
University, I came face to face with evolution in the study of geology. Even in
astronomy at Albion, we ignored creation and explored theories of how the
heavens came into being without God. I started to think that my parents were
just not too bright.
I have little understanding of why unbelieving preachers find it necessary
to destroy whatever confidence our young people have in the Word of God on
college campuses. There seems to be little or no opposition to their effort to
destroy faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As lacking as Albion was on the subject of
personal salvation, I do not recall any attacks on the person of Christ. I took a
Bible course under a Dr. Goodrich and I came to regard him highly as a scholar,
but I have no lingering memory of him challenging his students to salvation and
I was not brought under conviction of sin.
Eventually, I began to be interested in girls, especially as I neared the end
of school. When my parents moved to West Burton St. in Grand Rapids, I met
Mildred Champion, the organist of Burton Heights M. E. Church. We dated and
she attended my graduation from Michigan.
Upon graduation, I accepted a position with the Wayne County Highway
Commission in Detroit. I was a civil engineer and surveyor and remained with
them for about a year. I enjoyed this and the year of experience developed my
knowledge greatly. My single purpose for this first year on the job was to return
to Uncle Fred the money he had lent me for school. I had lived in the Highland
Park YMCA because I had worked as a materials inspector for the Michigan State
Highway near Birmingham the summer before and loved to play on their
baseball and basketball teams. I also attended a Methodist church nearby and
had made friends with twin boys who seemed quite religious and had high
standards of morality.
At the end of a year, I was dissatisfied with my raise in salary and took a
position with Detroit Edison in their steel department as a steel detailer. I
wanted this experience to lead to a structural engineering position. Due to my
mathematics training, I was given the most difficult jobs available. However, in
five months my Aunt Bessie persuaded me to go to California with her and her
cousin Rosamond. My movement was because of personal antipathy with not
feeling I was doing anything worthwhile or of a permanent nature. On
reflection, the reason was that I did not have the direction of God in my life and
nothing satisfied me.
I did not feel I should get married until I had a position that would give
me a stable income. Mildred and I were quite serious by this time. In August,
1929 I purchased a Model A Ford and drove Aunt Bessie an Rosamond to
Southern California. Jobs were very difficult to find but I had located a position
with the California State Highway Commission in San Bernardino within a few
months. It was a good experience but, again I was very restless and took the
Civil Service exam for engineers in the US Government.
I lived in San Bernardino, fifty-five miles from Aunt Bessie in Pasadena.
Every Thursday night i drove to Pasadena and took Aunt Bessie and Rosie to
Angeles Temple in Los Angeles for the healing service conducted by Amy
Sample McPherson. The place was always packed with over five thousand
people. The music and singing were terrific and then Amy would appear, be
given a bouquet of roses, come to the stage and preach. All of this led the
healing service. This was a new world for me and it all seemed very real and
truthful. All kinds of people were prayed for as Amy put her hands on their
heads and declared them healed. Some walked off the stage, head high praising
God, as the audience responded with applause. We would go home greatly
marveling at the power of God.
On Saturday, I would drive back to Pasadena, spend Sunday attending
the Methodist church and then drive back to San Bernardino. I had a Sunday
school teacher whom I am now convinced was a real believer. He had us
memorizing scripture and I memorized Psalm 91.
We went to Yosemite, saw the Rose parade and Rose Bowl game and I
played sports at the San Bernardino YMCA. This time, in addition to baseball
and basketball, I played fast pitch softball with Colton and we won 25 of 26
games, winning the Southern California Championship.
TO WASHINGTON DC
In April, 1930,1 received a government appointment for a position in
Washington, DC. Aunt Bessie tried to discourage me but I had had enough of
California. Spiritually, I was bankrupt and nothing satisfied me. So, I sold my
car and headed east with a lady who had put an advertisement in the paper to
have someone drive her and her Cadillac to Chicago. On the last day of June I
arrived at my home in Grand Rapids. I spent as much time with Mildred as
possible as we were making plans for marriage and I had to report to my new job
by July 19.
I had been assigned to a civil engineering position in the government but
this was not exactly what I wanted. In less than six months, though, I was
assigned to a structural engineering job in the Supervising Architects Office. I
stayed here the rest of my government service.
The first Sunday night I was in Washington, I attended Metropolitan
Methodist Church. The chaplain of the House of Representatives, Dr.
Montgomery, was the pastor. Immediately, I met a very pleasant young man
named Eugene Scheele who asked me to assist in taking the offering. He also
invited me to a youth meeting that met on Tuesday night on the ground level of
the church. I told him I would come and on Monday night, I received a one cent
post card at my room at the Y from Gene telling me that he would be expecting
me Tuesday night. Any doubts I had about attending vanished.
Often when I give my testimony, I refer to that post card from Gene. I
believe that was the turning point in my life. It has been said that God has his
man at the right place at the right time to reach some soul with the Gospel. He
wants to use us all in his great plan to reach the lost. All He needs is a yielded
vessel. On Tuesday night, I met about fifty young people singing hymns,
choruses and giving vibrant personal testimonies. It had been quite some time
since I had been in such a group but I knew I was in the right place and
immediately felt welcome. I was drawn to Gene and others in whom I, for the
first time, saw a reality which I longed for.
In September, I registered for the Bible class taught by Ethel Vance in the
Gospel of John. John 20:31 began to burn into my thinking. I soon found myself
leading the singing at the meetings where there were testimonies from new and
old converts- but not from me. I decided that I needed a testimony, so I
memorized Romans 8:28 and rose and recited it at an opportune time. An
elderly woman stood, looked at me and said, "Young man, you have no idea
what that verse means." I felt adequately rebuked and that was my last attempt
at a testimony.
I was still very involved and soon was singing in a newly formed quartet.
We began going to various churches on Sunday nights to sing with one of the
members of the quartet bringing a gospel message. Glenn Wagner was in the
quartet and he was the main speaker.
One Sunday night in January, the quartet sang at a meeting in DC and
Glenn spoke. After singing, Glenn asked me to stand and give a testimony. I
stood up but do not remember a word I said. This was the first time I had been
challenged and I sat down with one word ringing in my head: hypocrite. As I
returned to my room at the Y that evening, every step seemed to echo
"hypocrite". I opened the door to my room and without turning on the light, I
knelt by the bed an acknowledged for the first time in my life that I was not only
a hypocrite playing Christian, but a sinner needing a savior. At that moment, the
joy of the Lord flooded my heart and the burden of guilt was lifted.
I could hardly wait until Tuesday night to tell the others what had
happened to me. Hanging on to the chair in front of me, I rose to my feet and
confessed Jesus Christ as Savior. From that moment on, I was fully yielded to the
Lord and began to spread abroad the good news of salvation. I wrote to my
parents and told them what had happened and they were overjoyed for I was the
first of their seven children to make an open profession of Christ. I also shared
my experience with Mildred. She seemed glad but was not too enthusiastic
about it. She may have thought that I had gone off my rocker.
Like many new converts, I had my problem with the world. The first time
I went home to Grand Rapids after my conversion, my fiancee said she wanted
to go to the theater and see a certain picture. I tried to dissuade her but to no
avail. The movie was quite funny but I soon realized that I was watching
something not Christ like. I became very nervous and the thought taunted me:
"Suppose the Lord should return tonight and find me here." I began to perspire
and I could hardly breathe so I grabbed Mildred and said, "I must get out of
here!" When we reached the door, I realized the Lord had not come and I told
the Lord I would never again enter a theater. To this day, I have never desired to
enter another such place.
I had several old friends from the university who were in Washington and
with whom I spent a considerable amount of time. One day, one fellow asked
me to go to a bridge party with him. I needed to have a girl accompany me but,
since I was new in DC, I didn't know anyone whom I could invite. He lined one
up for me and we went in his car to pick my blind date up. As she got in, she
offered me a cigarette and I knew I was in for a bad evening.
About 100 people were in a lodge hall. I was probably the worse bridge
player there but, as the Lord would have it, I could not lose that evening and
won the first prize. When the prize was presented, it was a beautiful polished
brass smoking stand. I obviously had no use for it, so I donated it to my date. I
don't recall giving a Christian witness to anyone that evening. My misery was
overwhelming and I confessed my sin to the Lord that evening and covenanted
to never again touch a deck of cards.
Not surprisingly, Mildred gradually became interested in a very fine man
and gave my ring back. Strangely enough, I felt the greatest relief and I decided
never to marry for a wife would limit my service to the Lord.
My government job in DC allowed me to be a support to my family. The
depression had begun in 1930, so I was about the only one with a fixed income
during those years. In a small way, I was able to help the younger members of
the family with their education and help my folks a little during some of the lean
years. Nelson and Chuck were also very generous and assisted our family when
the need arose. I saw the lives of our wonderful parents being relived in their
children as all were hard workers. We all had initiative and knew the value of
work and money.
My job was giving me the structural engineering experience that I had
always craved. It consisted of designing post offices and other government
buildings. I developed a specialty in foundations. The Internal Revenue Service
building on Pennsylvania Avenue was a particular challenge as it was built over
an old canal that once ran along the street.
I was one of the designers of the Washington National Airport. Two of
my assignments were the entire structural design of the first floor and the
windows facing the airfield where the propeller planes did their loading. I
advanced to the place where I was chosen to be one of the eight design squad
leaders. At one time, we had 200 structural engineers in our division.
During the war, we were often loaned to other departments for special
projects. I was assigned to the Coast Guard to design a 60 foot radio tower that
could be landed and in operation within one hour and could be stored in a box
less than twenty feet long. When I had completed the design, I went to a steel
fabricating plant and supervised the fabrication of the first one. These were
made by the hundreds and carried by landing vessels in the Pacific.
Additional office building were needed during the war. I became
involved in the design of two and three story wood structures that were erected
along Independence Avenue between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington
Monument. All of these have since been removed and some replaced with
During the 1930's, I was given the assignment of designing the gold vault
located in one of the open spaces below the Treasury Building. It was a two
story structure, obviously designed to be burglar proof. The door was designed
by another company and was a fantastic design of several layers of special steel
and other impervious materials. The walls and floors were 24 and 30 inch
concrete filled with high carbon steel rods laid perpendicular to the wall surface.
It was a fun and especially interesting project. I don't think it was ever used
except while waiting for additional vaults to be built.
There were several other projects which I had a part in. Many of the
offices along Pennsylvania and Independence Avenues were designed in our
office. I also worked on the Naval Annex to the Pentagon on Columbia Pike in
Arlington. We also designed post offices around the country. A single design
was used for many of these with adjustments made in the foundation depending
on the lots. One of my last projects involved the East Wing of the White House.
I think my name is on that wing.
As soon as I came to know the Lord, I devoted myself to the study of the
Bible and took every opportunity to hear the Word taught. A great blessing was
the monthly prophetic conferences held in DC. I would take leave from work in
order to go hear some of the world's great prophetic teachers. The crowds for
these conferences were very large and my interest in prophecy began to grow.
Dr. Miers of the 4th Presbyterian Church held a weekly Bible class in one
of the downtown hotels and I attended regularly. Gene Scheele lived at 1729 Q
St. NW in a rooming house for Christians and asked me to be his roommate.
From then on, I was exposed to the tract ministry Gene was operating. Groups
gathered to enclose tracts in cellophane of various colors looking like candy. We
threw these tracts out the car windows in an attempt to saturate the area with
tracts. Bill Bond, Glenn Wagner and Gene worked together conducting Sunday
night meetings in Churches and youth meetings. They consisted of testimonies,
singing, a short message and an invitation.
The first message I ever preached was in a Presbyterian church on a
Sunday night in NE DC. Bill, Clara and I were responsible for the meeting. I led
the singing and the testimony meeting, which I usually did, but Bill came up
with a sore throat and could not speak. All I could do was quote a few verses of
Scripture and give my own testimony but I gave an invitation and two
responded. Bill spoke with them afterwards to show them assurance from the
Scriptures. I was amazed that anyone responded. I was slowly learning that the
work is done by the Holy Spirit through God's Word and not through the
speaker. After that, I became increasingly involved in meetings, both singing
I was determined to know the Bible. I took a few night courses at the
American Home Bible Institute under Glenn, Rev. Oyer and others and
memorized 120 verses in a personal evangelism class. Every day, I walked 25
minutes to the office and I spent most of that time memorizing Scripture. After
Bible survey, I moved on to Bible doctrine and individual book studies. After
less than two years, I was teaching classes at the Bible Institute. I dedicated two
hours a day to Bible study and I maintained this faithfully for many years.
Ministry was consuming an ever greater proportion of my time. We
traveled weekends from church to church giving testimonies to youth groups.
Scores of young people accepted Christ. From one church, eleven went to Bible
college and studied for full time Christian ministry. I resumed my voice lessons
and practice my trombone in order to lead singing and play solos for people who
didn't know the difference. It was a big asset for street meetings and evangelistic
It was at this time that Glenn and Lucretia were married at Lucretia's old
home in Thomas, WV. It was a formal affair and I can assure you that Thomas
had never seen anything approaching it before. Glenn asked me to usher, but the
guests didn't seem to know what an usher was so my talents may have been
wasted. The crowd was so large that the overflow filled the open windows of
the little Presbyterian church.
I became greatly exercised about the will of God with a growing
conviction that the Lord was leading me into full time Christian work. The more
I prayed, however, the more confused I seemed to become. I shared this with
Glenn and he suggested that we meet and spend an evening together in prayer
and discussion. When we met, Glenn chose a verse of scripture around which to
concentrate our thinking. We meditated on Psalm 37:5 and prayed late into the
night. Eventually, it dawned on me that the will of God for me was God's
business and all he wanted from me was a yielded heart and life. Then and there
I said, "Lord, I now quit worrying about this matter and put it all in your hands.
I will keep on working where I am until you clearly direct me otherwise." It was
eleven years until the Lord gave me the freedom to leave the government and
become president of the Washington Bible Institute.
I became a member of Foundry Methodist Church. Dr. Frederick Brown
Harris was pastor as well as chaplain of the Senate. He took a liking to me and
asked me to give my testimony in a church service. I quickly became involved as
our Tuesday fellowship moved to the church. I also taught a Sunday school class
of twelve year old boys and sang in the choir. I did not neglect my music and
continued voice lessons with Justin Laurie, the choir director and a well known
vocalist in the DC area. I also began singing duets with Ed Stelling , an
Episcopalian who had recently received Christ. We became good friends and
Ed's wife Esther played the piano for us at youth meetings.
Ed and Gene had the experience of tongues when they became
prominent. I became very troubled about the issue and began to search the
scriptures for an answer. I sided with Bill and Glenn who taught that the
experience was unscriptural and it was apparent that Gene and Ed were
influencing young Christians to seek the experience. The issue was becoming
a divisive in the fellowship. Gene and Ed were pursuing their influence
secretly, going to tongues meetings but not bringing it openly in the
Fellowship meetings. They knew we were openly opposed to the movement
and since the Youth Fellowship was made up of people from all
denominations, tongues were not to be part of it. At a prayer meeting one
Saturday night, I charged them with attempting to integrate tongues into the
fellowship. They confessed and agreed to cease. Eventually, Ed was delivered
out of the trap and published a booklet telling how he became trapped in it
and how he was delivered. It took Gene longer to see the doctrinal error but
eventually he renounced it. Glenn had been involved with tongues and
delivered from it earlier in his Christian life; he took a strong biblical stand
against it which was a great help to young Christians like me.
Buchmanism, the practice of clearing one's mind of all thoughts in order
to receive the Spirit's guidance, invaded Washington at this same time and some
of us saw it as an opportunity to enhance our spiritual lives. Again, Bill and
Glenn exposed the error and helped the rest of us see it as another unscriptural
movement. Many Episcopalians were swept along by this movement whose
greatest influence was on the biblically uneducated. Glenn's response to these
challenges again showed me the value of a biblical education.
Like most new believers, I soon became concerned about whether or not I
was really saved. A group of young men decided to have a retreat for prayer
and Bible study and they invited me. I shared with them my problems with
assurance with tears and they began to bombard me with Scripture to no avail.
Bill Bond decided to take me for a walk in the snow where he pulled out his
testament and asked me to read John 5:24. He then asked me if Jesus Christ
would lie to which I promptly responded, "Of course not!"
Bill asked, "Do you believe that He is the Son of God and died for you sins
on the cross?"
"Yes, I do...", I replied through my tears.
"Now put your name in the verse, 'Verily, verily I say unto you (George),
he that heareth my Word and believeth on him that sent me (you do believe John
3:16, don't you?) has everlasting life (that means you right now). Who said you
have eternal life?"
"Would he lie?"
"Do you have everlasting life?"
"Yes, because He said so-" and for the first time I understood that I could
know I have everlasting life because Jesus said so. That truth has remained with
me through the years.
It was great to visit home now. My parents and I would share together
and they were thrilled that we could have spiritual fellowship together and pray
for the salvation of the rest of the family. I think my zeal was too much for my
brothers and sisters. They became very reserved towards me. It seems at every
opportunity I was pinning them down regarding their personal relationship to
On one occasion. Tret and Avis accompanied me to the Mel Trotter
mission in Grand Rapids. We heard a great message on salvation and both my
sisters went forward to accept Christ as Savior. When we came home both girls
told our parents about their decisions and we had plenty of tears and a time of
In the fall of 1935, John decided to enroll in Taylor University. I carried on
a brief correspondence with him sending him a little extra money. He seldom
replied with anything spiritual, just gave me a thanks for the gift. Then, in
September, he told me that he had gone forward in evangelistic meetings at
Taylor and told me that he had believed in Christ. I was overjoyed at the news. I
got in my car and drove to Michigan, then went directly to Taylor. When I met
John, he began to weep and told me he didn't know if he was saved. I asked him
if anyone had shown him the scripture and he said that no one had. So, I asked
him to get his Bible and we turned to John 3:16 and John 5:24. I told him the
same things I had been told when I lacked assurance and still we were convinced
that Jesus Christ would not lie and that we could trust him. We could then
rejoice together because he now knew that he had eternal life.
Of course, life was not all work and fellowship and I was able to
continually hone my athletic skills. I played basketball on the Y team until 1934.
Our practice night was Wednesday and my conversion made me think that my
place on Wednesday was prayer meeting. Therefore, I told the team that I could
not practice on Wednesdays and they immediately changed the practice to
Thursdays. I also played baseball with the Treasury team, a game I excelled in.
In 1932,1 led all the government leagues with a .479 average. Our teams were
made up of some of the finest players outside of organized baseball. I felt
cheated because the heading on the sports page listed another player in first
place and me second. They made an error computing the averages and I began
to learn that there was something more important than baseball.
The reason for my athletic careers finding such an early end was an attack
of pleurisy in 1934. It was so severe that I was completely helpless and was
placed in a nursing home so I could be watched around the clock. My pleural
cavity filled with fluid and they could not stop the infection. Dr. Ryon, my
doctor who later became a good friend, called my parents and told them I had
only 48 hours to live. My parents drove to DC immediately and the youth
fellowship held an all night prayer meeting for me. The next day, Dr. Ryon
examined me and remarked that he thought the infection was stopped or was
not spreading. My parents arrived to receive this news but Dr. Myers came to
see me nevertheless and asked me about my salvation. After X-rays, drainage,
and two months under nursing care, I was well enough to travel to Michigan. I
took a train as far as Toledo where my father picked me up and drove me to
Delton where I spent the next five months recovering. I returned to DC in
March, 1935, but was warned that I would need to be very careful about my
activity and get plenty of rest. They expected it to take five years for me to
recover fully when actually, I was back to normal in two. However, the rest of
my life I had to be very careful to avoid a reoccurrence. I learned to care for my
body as the temple of the Holy Spirit.
The idea of full-time Christian ministry occupied more and more of my
thinking. I was quite busy with singing and leading singing with my trombone.
I was determined to be faithful and to be doing what the Lord wanted me to do
each day. My spiritual ties with my parents was ever growing and I watched my
sister mature. Mother and I met in prayer and claimed salvation for the whole
My search for ministry led me to the American Home Bible Institute, a
school led by Bill Bond and Glenn Wagner which had been begun by Mr.
Collamore. In 1936, Glenn went to Dallas Theological Seminary and left the
position of president empty. I had been teaching Bible classes for the institute
and had been serving as a member of the board. When Glenn left, I was asked to
assume his duties as the school's president. The school was involved in
correspondence and had a small evening program, all operated by volunteer
Mary Hervey, a clerk in the government, was registrar of the Bible
institute and we worked together in running the school. Through her I was
asked to teach a young women's Sunday school class at Mt. Vernon Methodist
Church. Mary was from Butler, PA and knew another young lady who had just
moved from Butler to work in the government as a secretary. Her name was
Ruth Crawford and Mary had rented her a room in her apartment. Ruth began
to attend our Sunday school class and soon volunteered to help me at AHBI as I
had need of some volunteer secretarial help. Gradually, we became acquainted
and she not only became a part of the Institute, but also a member of our youth
fellowship. In the spring of 1938, she accepted my proposal for marriage. All my
friends had given me up as a confirmed bachelor, but our engagement created a
great deal of excitement and much was made over our coming marriage.
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
Our marriage took place in Butler, PA on October 22,1938. Gene was my
best man and we were married at the Second UP Church. In the pastor's prayer,
he asked the Lord to "send them just enough trouble to sweeten their lives."
Since we were both 34 years old, Miss Lena Lebaugh asked, "What trouble could
come to George and Ruth?" We took our honeymoon in West Virginia and
Kentucky where we visited Ed and Esther Stelling. We had a great time together
in the Lord. We visited the schools with them where they held Bible classes and
carried on a scripture memory program for the children. It was cold then and I
remember that many of the children were barefoot and poorly dressed despite
the light snow on the ground. Amazingly, it did not seem to bother them at play
because, in their poverty, they didn't know any other situation.
The Stelling facilities were not adapted to a honeymoon, but we adjusted.
Ed's greatest revelation of our visit was that he had found a dead rat in the water
of their open well and that the water would taste better from that point on. The
best beds they owned were two army cots which they graciously gave to us. The
cracks between the floor boards took care of the dirt and we became accustomed
to the boxes they used for kitchen furniture. Their oil stove was used for cooking
and we were introduced to missionary work in rural America by the lack of
inside facilities and the heat provided by a coal stove. I built a clothes closet and
gave the women some money for groceries and other necessities. The Stellings
had no money but were not complaining. What we learned those days would fill
a book but would also redefine the word "missionary".
The next few years were filled with a growing family and with other
opportunities for ministry. When Gypsy Smith came to Washington to hold an
evangelistic campaign under the auspices of the Laymen's Evangelistic
Association, they asked me to take charge of the personal work. We recruited
about fifty personal workers and supervised the interviewing of those who
professed Christ. We arrived back from our honeymoon at the beginning of the
meeting an Gypsy Smith presented us to the crowd of 2000 people.
Life moved on and Ruth and I spend a few days where I had been
rooming until our apartment on Independence Avenue was available. We also
began plans for a family and our first child was born in August, 1939. We named
him John Edward but he was a blue baby and lived only eighteen hours. Ruth
never saw him. The doctor asked me if he should inform Ruth of the baby's
passing but I wanted to remind her that we had given him to the Lord so I was
the one to tell her. She cried, but replied, "I did so want him, but if the Lord
wanted him then that is all right with me." Those are the only tears I recall her
shedding for that baby but it was difficult to pack up all the things we had
accumulated as we anticipated his arrival.
When Ruth was again ready for the arrival of children, I took her to the
hospital. As I put her on the elevator and kissed her, I said, "Nothing less than
two girls." On May 21,1941 she gave birth to Grace and Esther, our perfect twin
girls. My structural engineer friends in the office were as excited as I was. Once
home, Ruth's mother took charge for she had the experience of raising twins. She
stayed with us for several months and did it all. Linally, she went home
exhausted and the twins were all ours.
Our home with twins was exciting. One day when they were 16 months
old, they were uncharacteristically silent. After Ruth investigated, she realized
they had just completed emptying a box of Kleenex, located on the water tank of
the toilet, sheet by sheet into the bowl. When I arrived home from the office,
Ruth told me how naughty they had been. When I asked her what she did about
it, she told me she spanked them real hard. However, when we put up a new
box, they went right back in and did the same thing. I remarked that she must
have made a real impression on them.
A pastor friend in Alexandria had twin girls five years before us. They
passed on to us all the clothes they had used and outgrown. Our girls never
lacked the finest.
Our one bedroom apartment was too small so we rented a house at 1508 S.
Pollard St. in Arlington. We moved in October 1941, just a few months before
Pearl Harbor. Our move seemed even wiser a year later when Martha arrived on
October 2,1942, a new companion for the twins. She was a big one, a nice
butterball type. The girls were all notably healthy and there were no
When Ruth had carried Martha about five months, she stayed home on
Sundays with the twins. One Sunday, she fell down the basement stairs with a
pail of slop water, broke her arm and injured her head. When she came to, she
was so dizzy that she had great difficulty getting up to the first floor. A nurse
friend lived across the street and Ruth managed to get to the door and call. She
then fainted and when the neighbor came over, she could not see her. When
Ruth once again came to, she got out into the front yard and this time the
neighbor saw her and came running. She managed to lift Ruth back into the
house. I was preaching at a church in DC. Ruth had the neighbor call the
telephone company who called a number near the church. The woman who
answered the phone then went over to the church and the message was relayed
to me. I closed the service as quickly as possible and rushed home to meet the
doctor who had already arrived. He said there was no damage to the baby but
confirmed the broken arm. Dede soon arrived to take over the household until
Ruth was once again capable.
In 1944 we lost another boy at birth with circumstances similar to the first
one and in 1945, Ruth suffered a miscarriage again caused by the Rh factor. Ruth
spent twenty-eight days in the hospital because of infection and incurred a bill
totaling $608. We had just moved to WBI full-time, so we were low on funds.
The Lord supplied our need with gifts from friends totaling $614. I used to say
that the extra six dollars must have gone to aspirins which we had forgotten but
it was a great lesson in the Lord supplying our needs, we were like little children
learning to walk but we were learning to walk by faith. Later, we looked back on
this incident as a great revelation that we were where the Lord wanted us.
When our children were small our routine of going to bed included a visit
to all the rooms in the house. Martha straddled my neck and hung onto my hair.
Then I took a twin on each shoulder and away we would go, down to the
basement, into the bathroom on the first floor and finally up the stairs to their
beds. When the total load got to more than one hundred pounds, I had to give
up. Then we had prayer, a hug and several kisses, and I tucked them in saying
good night. After three minutes, they cried, "I want a drink." Their thirst
quenched, we finally had silence.
We made an attempt to visit both of our families once a year, usually in
June or July. This was a highlight for Ruth's mother, "Dede", who loved the
twins and Martha. During the war, gas was rationed and long trips limited so
the year before Martha was born, Ruth and the twins went by train to Butler. I
engaged a private room and the twins drove Ruth crazy. They wanted to sit on
the potty the entire time.
After Martha was born, we took the three to Michigan on the train. It was
the summer of 1943. We took the car to Butler and the train from there. I picked
huckleberries and, with Dad's help, we canned them in one quart glass jars and
packed them in an old flat trunk. The train carried our trunk for free. When we
got off at the station near Butler, the baggage man threw the trunk off. I thought
every jar would be broken, but only one was. It was raining and our car was
stored in a barn but I could not find the man with the key. I noticed a light at a
nearby Catholic church and found our man there, playing bingo. Soaked to the
skin, I returned to the barn, got the car, Ruth and the three girls and drove to
Butler only to discover that Ruth had left her purse on the train. We stayed with
Dede that night and went home the next day waiting for news on Ruth's purse.
We recovered it a few days later as the conductor had held it for her. All of this
was part of the fun of travel with babies.
We started Bible memory verses with our children as soon as they were
able to speak. All three could say the books of the Bible at lightning speed.
When Martha was 2 \/2 years old, I took her to the Gospel Mission and stood her
on the pulpit while she said the books of the Bible to the 200 men. They were
uniformly impressed. These things, we believe, contributed significantly to our
children's spiritual development.
We always had our children accompany us to the Wednesday night
prayer meeting. From about age three, this was our practice. We also kept them
with us during regular church services. There were problems of keeping them
quiet, but they learned quickly. We also cooperated with Child Evangelism in
their Good News Clubs. I built 8" high benches and Ruth visited every home on
our block and invited children aged three and over. All seventeen children on
our block attended. LaDelle Dawson, whom I was later to marry, was involved
in teaching these classes. She also babysat for us when Ruth and I were away.
When it came time for school, our children were eager beavers.
Fortunately, their first school was only two blocks away. But they were just as
enthusiastic about learning the Bible. We had many Bible quiz books and they
ate them up. Dale Crowley had a children's Bible quiz on the radio and many
times our children were on the program. Then we began to take them to Youth
For Christ where the Bible quiz was the main event. The Schuppe kids lived on
the same block and our families were together in everything. Barcroft was also
instrumental in instructing our children in the Word of God.
When Grace was 7 or 8, she and others were at the curb where the city bus
stopped at the corner. The bus driver motioned her to cross in front of his bus.
An unseen auto was passing on the other side and Grace stepped into the path of
the car. Fortunately, the car was moving slowly but it hit Grace and knocked her
into the curb and stopped. Grace jumped up and ran screaming for home. The
driver of the car was terribly frightened and followed Grace to our house. Her
only injury was burned skin but it was a lesson in crossing the street she never
forgot. She could easily have lost her life.
The twins joined the Brownies at age 10. Of course, they came home with
loads of Brownie cookies to be sold. So, one Saturday morning I took them out
on their first sales trip. They opened the car door and literally ran to the houses.
They sold out before I could blink and returned with dollar bills without having
given anyone change for their purchases. To this day I have no idea why
everyone overpaid them but I knew that they could certainly succeed in any
For 19 months, I was interim pastor at Neelsville Presbyterian Church, 25
miles north of DC, replacing a pastor who had become an army chaplain. At the
time, I was also teaching a women's Sunday School class at Francis Asbury M.E.
Church and the children were place in Sunday School there. Due to rationing, I
did not have enough gasoline to make the trip so Jack Warfield would pick us up
at 10:30, drive us to Neelsville where I would arrive about 11:15 and speak at
11:30. In 1944, we placed our children in the Cherry dale Baptist Sunday School
where Ruth rode with our neighbors Ruth and Tony Hill. I continued teaching at
Francis Asbury and also transported students to Glendale Hospital to conduct
classes in the children's wards. Around 1949, we began attending Barcroft Bible
Church and I resigned as teacher of the women's class at Francis Asbury. The
result of that teaching was the salvation of many of those women who had never
heard biblical teaching.
In the fall of 1948, my brother John asked me to come to teach a course in
personal evangelism for a week at his school in Grand Rapids. I finished the
teaching but had another attack of pleurisy. To ward off pneumonia, I spent a
week in the hospital and the next six weeks recovering with John and Evelyn.
Ruth came up by train and helped me by train back to Washington.
At the same time. Mother came down with a very serious illness. They
were living in Wayland and I went to see her nearly every day. I spent the time
with her praying and reading the Bible. One day, she was lying very quietly,
looking up at the ceiling and whispered, "I see Him."
I leaned over and asked her what He looked like. She answered, "He is
beautiful." That was all she spoke.
A few days later, John and I decided that it would be a good idea to have
the elders of the church pray for her that the Lord would raise her up. So, after
church on Sunday, we went to the house and stood around her. After telling her
our intention, she responded, "George, if you want to pray for me, pray that God
would take me home. I have lived for this." She passed away January 17,1950.
Ruth and I drove from Washington for the memorial and I had the privilege of
speaking. It was a great blessing to know that Mother was in the presence of the
Lord and that her testimony would live on as one who was faithful to Him.
In the fall of 1951, Dad went to Llorida to stay with Chuck and Helen.
While there, he became ill and Ruth went down to nurse him and take care of his
needs. He went to be with the Lord Lebruary 11,1952 at the age of 77. Ruth
accompanied his body by train back to Wayland and I again had the opportunity
of ministering the Word of God at the funeral. Uncle Fred was there and was
greatly moved by the testimony considering his brother. Whether he every came
to faith in Christ is uncertain.
When my father died, each of the children took something: Chuck took
the guns, Nelson the miterbox and I took some hand tools and half a bushel of
every kind of screw under the sun. When I got home, I secured several glass
containers and paid the girls 10 cents an hour to separate the screws into
categories and put them in these containers. They responded negatively, but it
was one way of earning a dime.
Our family owes a great deal to our sisters. Ruth lived in Wayland and
was close to Mother and Father and Tret was in Wayland and was always
available. When our Mother became ill, the girls cared for them and sacrificed a
great deal for their sake. I have already mentioned how Ruth took the
responsibility of going to Florida when Dad was sick. The members of the family
never will know how much they sacrificed or how much they did for our
parents. But we thank them greatly for their service to the family.
During all of these events, our daughters continued to grow and soon
entered high school. Their lives were being touched by the world. We tied them
very close to the college and the college life. Their church friends were also very
strong in the Lord. We took them to every Christian event that we thought
would influence them toward Christ.
Martha found that the Physical Education program at Wakefield High
School included social dancing. She came home and asked me to write a note to
the teacher excusing her from this activity. She had to face the scorn of the
teacher and others but we rejoiced that she demonstrated a conviction that
showed her moral strength.
The girls received five dollars a month for their school lunches and
Sunday School offering. Martha went to church and was challenged by a
missionary offering. She had not spent any of her allowance but put all five
dollars in the offering and sacrificed lunches for a month.
In August 1957, our daughter Esther died. It was completely unexpected.
Esther was aggressive, enthusiastic and talkative. She loved her daddy and
loved to be with him. She was also my personal fashion critic. I recall being
ready to go out and she insisted I change my socks because the color did not
match. I did as she instructed.
She had been having low temperatures for some time but the doctors
were unable to pinpoint the problem. In July, she became jaundiced indicating
gall bladder trouble. She was also tiring easily and needed a lot of rest. On
occasion, she had sever internal pains. In July, the family accompanied me to a
Bible conference in PA. The three girls sang for the first time as a trio on the
radio. While at the conference, Esther did some swimming but was very weak
and her skin was quite noticeably yellow. When we came home, she spent most
of her time in bed. She was an avid reader of Christian novels and displayed a
high degree of interest in spiritual things.
Finally, the pains became too severe to tolerate and an operation was
performed. The doctors discovered that she was full of cancer and the bile duct
was closed. For the first time, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, cancer
of the lymph glands. Four days later she was with the Lord, August 25,1957, at
the age of 16.
I bought four cemetery plots in National Memorial Park from Eunice
Shriver. Esther's body lay in the funeral home on Columbia Pike for two days
and hundreds of high school friends passed by. I stood at the casket and talked
to them about the Lord. Most of them had never seen a dead body before and
knew nothing about death, heaven or hell. I believe it was the greatest pulpit I
The funeral was held at Barcroft Bible Church. The people expressed their
love in many different ways. Helen Millson and Arlene Mundy sang, "The
Pearly Gates Will Open". Archie McGilvary had just come as the pastor and Bob
Boyd returned to minister the Word. Fifty-one cars drove to the cemetery.
It was difficult to adjust to her empty chair at our table. Both Martha and
Grace passed through a difficult time because they were all so close together in
age and activities. Grace seemed to withdraw and preferred to be alone.
However, we had the blessing of Esther's joy now that she was home with the
Shortly before Esther's homegoing we were sitting at the dining room
table when suddenly Esther said, "Daddy, do we have to attend WBC?" It was
evident our 16 year old twins had been discussing their future with their friends.
I answered, "No. Our only desire for you is the will of God. But we would be
pleased if you attended WBC." She gave a big sigh of relief. Both Esther and
Grace had scored in the top ten percent nationally on scholarship tests. Esther
was strong in math and Grace was strong in English. Eventually, both Grace and
Martha chose to attend WBC.
In the summer of 1958, Ruth and I decided that it was time I took a little
time for the family. Nearly every summer, I had traveled with a ladies' trio or a
men's quartet or was involved in preaching and conferences and had little time
for the family. We decided on a camping trip to the West Coast. We wanted our
daughters to see our country and we wanted to cement us together as a family
before the time passed when we would have the opportunity. Grace was
beginning her last year in high school, and Martha was in her second year.
We took the southern route to California. We then proceeded up the coast
to Seattle, moved east to Yellowstone then south to Denver. From there we went
on to Michigan to visit the family and back to Arlington, the whole trip taking
forty-two days. We pulled a camper and used it twenty-two nights and spent
the other nights with friends who were kind enough to give us good beds and
allow us to do laundry. Ruth and Grace preferred the comforts of home while
Martha and I enjoyed the camping. I had seen much of the west when I lived
there in 1929 and 30 but it was great to see it again with my family. We stopped
at most of the national parks on the way and saw Los Angeles with Aunt Bessie
and Rosamond. San Francisco, Portland, Salt Lake City, Hoover Dam, the Grand
Canyon, Yosemite, Crater Lake, Coolie Dam, Redwoods, and Sequoias were all
part of our trip.
This trip was not the only time we ever left home. We had a rather well
traveled family. We continued to make yearly journeys to relatives in
Pennsylvania and Michigan and made several trips to Florida during Christmas
to visit my brother Chuck. I also spoke at many Bible conferences and took my
family with me as often as possible. We saw Niagara Falls, Word of Life, Camp
of the Woods, Pinebrook, Keswick and even a few Miracle Camps. Our favorite
camp was Living Waters in North Carolina, run by Herbert Brown.
Who can fully describe the joys of raising children? They are an amazing
gift from God. I discovered the powerful sanctifying factor children are for
parents. We carried them through their childhood filling their fertile minds with
the Word of God. Then we watched them enter their teens with convictions that
kept them from destruction and guided them into making decisions according to
the Word of God. Finally, we were able to join in their joy when they yielded to
Christ and chose the will of God for their lives. I am thankful that this included
Bible college and ministry of the gospel in whatever location the Lord has led.
Parents who raise children according to God's instructions reap eternal joy.
GOD'S CALL AND A BRIEF HISTORY OF MY RELATION TO THE
Over the years, four small evening Bible institutes came into being in DC.
The question was soon raised if it would be better to have one strong institute to
serve the community rather than four smaller ones. Three of the schools came
together for discussion of the matter in September 1938 and they decided on a
American Home Bible Institute, of which I was president, and the
Washington School of the Bible joined immediately at that meeting and the Bible
Institute of Washington joined in 1940. I was appointed president of the new
institution which was named Washington Bible Institute. We first met in the
building owned by the Bible Institute of Washington but that was soon found to
be too small. So, the classes were held at the Open Door Church on D St. NW
which was pastored by Rev. Oyer. He was selected as chairman of the Board of
Trustees and remained chairman until his death in 1951.
The institute was growing quickly and needed full-time leadership. When
Glenn Wagner completed his studies at Dallas in 1940, he accepted the call to
return to Washington and take over leadership of the institute. He continued
there until 1944 when he joined the work of Pocket Testament League. At that
time, the trustees asked me to resume the presidency of the institute, this time in
a full-time role.
When the trustees asked me to take the school full-time, I hesitated for the
1. I felt that I was not academically qualified as I did not have the benefit
of a seminary education. I felt this might reflect upon the institution an
its future growth.
2. God had blessed me as a structural engineer and I had just reached the
pinnacle of my profession with a promising career. I was not sure that
God wanted me to leave this lifetime advantage.
3. I felt totally inadequate for the job and inferior as a leader in the
theological field. Too much would be expected of me. I wondered if
the Christian public and church leadership would accept me.
4. We had three children with the responsibility that entails and I always
thought that I could serve the Lord as a layman.
However, the following events urged me to accept the position:
1. Before salvation, I had determined that I would not be a preacher or a
missionary. After salvation, I was completely open to whatever the
Lord might want me to do, even if it included full-time service.
2. For the first three years of my Christian life as I grew in the Lord, I
became deeply concerned about missing God's will for my life.
3. God opened the door to full time ministry at the age of forty. My father
had entered the ministry at age 41. The Lord kept this before me as an
4. About 1941, Ed Stelling came to our home believing God wanted me to
join him in the evangelistic ministry. We would take turns leading the
singing and preaching. Our ministry together had been blessed by the
Lord but after protracted prayer, I had no peace about making this step
although I became much exercised over the matter.
5. The institute was growing and the youth rallies along with other
meetings made that load on Glenn very heavy. He asked me if I would
consider joining him and taking charge of the academic program as
dean. Again, I prayed but had not freedom to make such a move.
6. Although I never received a formal call to pastor a church, I was
continually supplying pulpits and holding evangelistic meetings as
time would allow and received sever unofficial invitations to pastor
churches and there were numerous opportunities in the field. Each
time I would pray, but felt no peace about pursuing the pastorate.
7. My association with the Laymen's Evangelistic Association, as a
founding member of the group, also gave me opportunity for ministry.
The group later joined CBMC International and conducted summer tent
meetings for seven years. I was involved in the administration, getting
speakers, leading singing, and preaching. I also dealt with the city and
all of this gave me plenty of organizational, administrative and
All of these opportunities brought me face to face with the will of God and
a decision had to be made. I searched my heart to make sure that I was willing to
do whatever God wanted me to do. Teaching seemed to be what I liked to do
more than anything else and I was working both in Sunday school and at the
I decided I would let the Trustees and others decide this for me. I
presented these problems to them and said if the vote was unanimous, I would
accept. They reported to me that it was their unanimous desire that I become
their president and I immediately asked Ruth, "What do you think?" She said,
"Wherever the Lord calls you, I am with you 100%!" This was the unity we both
At once, I put in my resignation with the government, March 15,1945, and
began at WBI the next day. The really was not much change because Glenn had
already become so involved with Pocket Testament League that the
responsibility of the school had fallen on my shoulders for several months.
The response at the government was predictable. My co-worker at the
office was a Jew and I was there when I announced my resignation. He asked
me what I was going to do and, upon hearing my plans, asked the question,
"What are they going to pay you?"
I responded, "I don't know. I never asked them!"
"You'll starve to death," was his reply.
At the end of forty years, I do not remember missing a single meal for lack
of supply. We were resting on God's promise, "My God shall supply all you
needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." We were seeking first
God's kingdom and all those things were added to us.
When I took over as president of the college, my income was considerably
reduced. I was determined to give myself to the task one hundred percent.
Howard Zimmerman had entered private engineering practice and needed help.
He called me and offered me almost as much as the college was paying me if I
would just give him one day a week. It was a tempting offer but I realized that
one day would soon become two or more days so I refused to get involved.
At my formal installation, I used Joshua 1:1-9 as my text for my message.
When God called Joshua to succeed Moses, He assured him of His presence. His
power and His provision. I claimed the same for myself knowing my inability
but having faith and confidence that God would do the same for me. I praise His
name for He has fully kept his promises. My life has been run by three
principles. My only interest is the will of God. In the will of God, I cannot fail.
In the will of God, I will have no eternal regrets.
Glenn was still active in DC and his interest in evangelism led him to start
a Saturday night youth rally at Almas Temple, K St. Homer and Blanche Philips
worked with him in charge of the music. As a result of the rallies, hundreds of
young people came to Christ and many of these enrolled in the Bible institute to
study the Word. Glenn also sponsored Potomac boat cruises with an
evangelistic thrust. We continued these boat cruises for several years and had
Percy Crawford and Jack Wrytzen as speakers.
Our students received much of their training in open air meetings in parks
and streets. Under the leadership of Bob Woodburn, CBMC opened the
Servicemen's Center to minister to the many wartime soldiers crowding DC.
Harvey Prentice of the Gospel Mission also offered the students opportunities for
ministry in the city and opened my eyes to jail ministry and mission meetings. I
have continued my interest in preaching in gospel missions and in jails all my life
and encouraged students to remember unique areas for sharing the gospel.
The school continued to grow and soon outgrew the available facilities.
At the same time, we were considering expanding the curriculum to a three year
program, resembling Moody Bible Institute. However, we were constantly
aware of our need for a new location. In May of 1946, the Lord led us to a
preparatory school for men entering the service academies located on Rhode
Island Ave. The property was large enough to accommodate our current
activities and allow for significant growth. The selling price was $80,000,
$30,000 of which had to be raised in sixty days. Within the allotted time, the
Lord's people had donated the necessary money and the property belonged to
The buildings had to be ready for classes in September. We had very little
money so I was given to knocking out walls and other construction. Dad and
Mother had come for five months while Dad worked on the building. He was a
great help. About the middle of June, a young man appeared and asked if he
could be of some help. I told him we could always use help but he wouldn't get
much money from it. He told us he didn't need money and then told us that he
had just gotten saved, and was a son of an Army colonel and a junior at
Princeton. For two months, we labored together with some others. His name
was John Whitcomb and would later go on to be a great scholar, writer, professor
at Grace Theological Seminary and a life-long friend.
The college took up a great deal of my time. With teaching day and night,
starting extension classes, and traveling with student groups on the weekends,
adjustments were called for at home. I always tried to be home for dinner
because it was the only way I could spend any time with the children.
We wanted to minister to our supporters and keep them informed. So,
with the help of my secretary Dorothy Swilling and part-time helper Margaret
Norton, we established our publication TIDINGS. It required long hours of work
but the 2,000 people on the mailing list seemed to appreciate it. I had also
enlisted the help of Ed Stelling to write our monthly prayer letter. The Lord had
led him into a life of prayer unequaled by any other man that I knew and he had
close contact with the school. He continued in that ministry for forty years and
challenged thousands of Christians to a more blessed prayer life through
personal contact and letters published in booklets.
We were making changes rapidly as we prepared for our first semester in
the new facilities. We had dorms and a dining room in full operation and the
first of a three year full time course was taught at night along with the regular
adult education program. In the fall of 1947, two full years of courses were
conducted during the day and the third year was added the following fall.
Our first graduation for the three year program took place in the spring of
1949 when twelve students received their diplomas. The first graduating class
was significant to me as a triumph. We were a small and happy group, a family.
The faculty shared the struggles and trials of every student. I remember Herman
Dowdy and always wondered how he survived to graduate. He quit more times
than I can recall. During his freshman year, we had a day of prayer and he
prayed, with tears, that he did not know the will of God. For the next hour, we
had a time of personal prayer and he returned filled with joy. I asked him what
had happened and he replied that God had shown him that he was in His will.
Herman had been concerned with what would happen thirty years in the future
and that was why he felt he didn't know God's will.
Jack Mitchel of Multnoma School of the Bible once told me, "If you want to
get involved in problems, start a day college." I soon learned the validity of this
statement. During the fifties, our growth was slow and at times we wondered
whether or not the college would survive. I once shared this with my brother
John. By this time, he was president of Grand Rapids School of the Bible and
Music and he responded like this: "God raised up GRSBM and if He sees fit to
close it, that is His responsibility." That taught me a great deal about having the
right perspective. Paul states in Philippians, "I have learned that in whatsoever
state I am, therein to be content. I know both how to be abased and I know how
to abound; everywhere in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be
hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ
who strengtheneth me." This has been one of my most challenging lessons to
learn. We no sooner pass through a trial triumphantly than we are confronted
with a more difficult one.
With the establishment of the day school in 1946, the operation of the
school became significantly more complex. Dining rooms, dormitories, a library
and other essentials required more personnel, facilities and finances. At the
same time, we were acquiring more property in order to satisfy our needs. The
initial purchase had involved 1443-45 Rhode Island Avenue and in 1953 we
procured 1441. A three story horse barn in the rear became room for the library,
recreation area and classrooms in 1958. We became creative in space
management because the growth of the student body required new adjustments
every year. For example, a garage at 1441 quickly became the print shop. We
were able to purchase the properties at 1449-51 and then 1447 giving us an
expansive unit along Rhode Island Ave. But even this was not enough as we
were renting twenty apartments in the Rhode Islander by the end of the sixties.
The school was always being evaluated according to its size and growth in
numbers. Larger schools set the standard and there was always pressure to
measure up. If the enrollment increased one year, God was blessing but a
decrease indicated that someone was failing and God had removed His blessing.
This is sort of like a football team at a state university. If the administration
doesn't produce, you can always hire a new one.
In the fall of 1953, an entire graduating class requested a fourth year. The
trustees agreed and the fourth year was added. We then received permission
from the Board of Education of the District of Columbia to grant a bachelor of
arts degree. The name of the school was then changed to Washington Bible
College in 1956 to reflect the change. In 1958, the graduating class requested
graduate level training and Capital Bible Seminary was born.
We were blessed with wonderful staff. LaDelle Dawson was our first
dean of women and instructor in Christian Education. After two years, we lost
her by marriage to one of the students and, in so doing, established a pattern. It
seemed that as soon as we had an able person who had become efficient in his
position, the Lord would remove him and we would start over. We soon
learned, however, that when the Lord removed one, he always raised up
another. Our next dean of women, Hannah Campagna, we lost to the foreign
mission field. While that expanded our missionary interest, it was a sore loss.
She had the odd idea that blackstrap molasses was the key to healthy living.
Mother Phillips followed and was well loved. She came to the evening school
and fell in love with the study of the Word. She even convinced her pastor to
visit classes with her. Later, she told him that she was leaving his church
because she wanted to go where the Word of God was preached. He,
unsurprised, said he had predicted it from the moment she began attending the
Mary Ortendall followed and was with us for twenty years, first as
women's dean then dorm supervisor, dietitian, house mother, prayer warrior,
counselor and loyal friend of the schools. She was a great servant and she, along
with Ruth, began the Women's Auxiliary, greatly used in prayer and giving to
uphold the college. She even had her Sunday School class at Cherrydale Baptist
supplying the college with linens.
The Lord sent Willis Bishop as our first full time professor in 1947. He
was to remain with us for 35 years before his retirement. C. W. Oyer was a great
source of encouragement to me until his homegoing in 1951. Vernon Hill
followed him as chairman of the trustees and was a great leader and faithful
With the coming of Carl Keefer as our first full-time dean in 1953,1 had
some relief from administration. He and his wife Sue became a real part of the
family and life of WBC. Without him we could not have inaugurated the four
year college program. Carl had just resigned as academic dean at Bob Jones and
came to our little struggling Bible institute with loads of experience and tons of
talent. His musical ability and excellent work in the classroom made him the key
our school needed. He did much to strengthen the curriculum and teaching and
he and Willis Bishop worked well as a team. Losing him four years later was a
great toll. While the number of students had grown only slightly during his
tenure, the entire school had been strengthened. He later confided in me that our
years together had been the happiest days of his life.
In the spring of 1953,1 was presented with the opportunity to go to the
Orient with Pocket Testament League. It was not an easy decision to go because
I was filling the pulpit at Barcroft and had so many responsibilities with the
college. The trip was also supposed to be for three months in the middle of the
school year. Besides, I had never been away from Ruth and the girls for any
extended period of time and I realized what a load it would place on my wife.
She didn't even have a driver's license at the time and had to get one in
preparation for my trip. However, the Lord sent along Marshall Southard who
took over the pastorate at Barcroft and many of my classes to prepare for the
mission field. The trustees also encouraged me to go.
The trip was one of the turning points in my life. Glenn Wagner wanted
me to go to the foreign field and work in the distribution of the gospel of John.
This trip included Japan, Korea and Formosa. I had to raise my own support and
cover the cost of transportation. In May of 1953, Glenn put $1 in a fund for the
trip. Then in September, Bob Woodburn told people on a CBMC Cruise about
my trip and received $161 in an offering that evening. By November, I was
prepared to take my shots but had received no more money. I decided to go
ahead with the shots and after that the gifts began to come. To satisfy my total
need of $3,000, Ruth and I decided that I should withdraw my government
retirement funds and by February, I had all the required money in hand.
The ministry to follow was something I had never dreamed possible. I
stopped in Hawaii for a week with Elsie Yoshimura who arranged entertainment
for me and showed me the work Child Evangelism Fellowship was doing there.
I also met Eleanor Bergsten who later served as my secretary for eighteen years.
While in Hawaii, I was also able to visit Jamie and Nellie Barton who were there
with the Navy. From Honolulu, I flew to Tokyo.
Glen met me there and took me to Formosa for the next two weeks. The
flight was on a converted four motor World War II bomber through a terrible
thunderstorm. Upon arrival, I was introduced to Andrew Lou who became my
working companion. We held meetings in the markets and for the first time I
spoke from the top of a PTL truck. We also distributed gospels of John in schools
and gave a short message. Glenn and I took pedicabs in the rain to see Dick
Hillis who was also working in the high schools. Glenn gave him 10,000 gospels
of John to distribute to the kids. Finally, I spoke to about forty missionaries on
the south of the island.
We then returned to Japan for three weeks of distribution to schools in the
daytime and rallies in larger buildings at night. John Fakuda and Comiji Sata
were our companions and interpreters. I learned quite a bit about Japanese life
spending nearly two weeks alone with these two men. They were great men of
God. In a small town, I was introduced to the traditional Japanese bath in the
hotel in which we were staying. John took it for granted that I knew all about it.
A servant girl appeared at my room and motioned me to follow as she led me to
the bath. I entered a small room where I disrobed and the girl held a small
basket for my clothes. Then I saw the bath for the first time. It was a four foot
square hole in the floor with steam rising from the water. The girl attempted to
follow me in but I waved her back. I guess I was too sensitive for Japanese
culture. Then I wondered how I was supposed to take a bath, especially when
my toes practically burned off on their first contact with the water. After
spotting a tin dish and a bar of soap, I dipped the dish in the water and poured it
over my body. After soaping up, I rinsed off in the same way, never getting in
the water. I left the tank perfectly clean for the next guest and I am sure the girl
thought I was crazy for not taking a normal bath. She gave me back my robe and
I vanished into my room, grateful to have escaped. When I recounted the story,
Glenn and the rest laughed to the point of tears. I made it a point not to get
caught by that situation again.
I spoke in David Stada's church and spoke to the students at his Bible
institute. The Wagners had their home in Tokyo and it was like heaven to get
back there after being out with Japanese fellows. One night, we had a meeting in
a hall that would seat about 300 on the floor. We planned to show a movie and
the place was jammed. There was no aisle left and even the windows were full.
Something had to be done so Glenn literally ran people out the entrance until he
could shut the door. Then we were able to start the meeting. We were glad to
get home with our shirts.
A few days later, Lucretia and I decided to pass out tracts to about 5,000
school kids who were being dismissed. We set the truck in the middle of the
street with just enough room on either side for a person to squeeze by. We
thought we had a good set up as the first wave of kids passed but we had not
counted on a side street a few feet in front of the truck. We stood next to the
truck waiting for the rest of the kids to pass.
Things were going smoothly until a flood of kids emerged from the side
street. The neat lines disappeared and we were faced with a howling mob with
hands raised grabbing for tracts. We literally thought we would lose our shirts
and even be trampled to death. I got up on the hood and Lucretia stood on the
bumper until the majority had passed. We didn't run out of tracts for we had
brought plenty of those. But a bunch of kids in that situation lose all concept of
organization and order. The rule of the jungle prevails.
I was beginning to learn the lessons of Japan in the fifties. First, there
were crowds everywhere. Second, there was a great vacuum for knowledge.
Third, the doors were wide open. Finally, the laborers were few and continue to
be scarce. At the end of each day, I was left with the feeling that the situation
was hopeless, there were too many people and the job was too big. Millions
upon millions are dying without hope and no one seems to care.
I contrasted the affluence of America with the poverty I saw there. I saw
the endless line of churches in America in every city and hamlet while there were
no churches, no witnesses, no Bibles there. I wanted to know what was wrong
with the American Christian that would allow such a situation to exist. Then it
occurred to me that I was part of the problem; I was one of those indifferent
American Christians. I determined that upon return, I would be a different Bible
From Japan, we went to Korea for three weeks. We landed in Pusan, a
city normally of half a million but swollen to over two million with refugees
from the war. They were jammed along the streets in cardboard shacks. The
streets were polluted with human refuse and thousands were living out of the
American troops' garbage cans.
The first meeting we held was to speak to a thousand troops in Pusan. It
was such a privilege to share with them the gospel of John and the message of
life it contains. Later, I spoke to 250 students at the Pusan Bible Institute. Dr. On
was the president and the school was housed in American Army Quonsets. I
soon learned that the Korean Christians had a great hunger for the Word of God
and thousands of young people were training to carry the gospel to their people
and other countries.
A short distance from Pusan was a training base for army engineers. I
was taken there and spoke to 5000 men, presenting each with a copy of the
gospel of John. My message from the gospel was simple, the person and work of
our Lord Jesus Christ. We always gave an invitation and the response was too
great to believe. Each day we spoke to grade school and high school students
and continued to distribute gospels.
We moved north from there to Nonson army training center where there
were 51,000 troops. In two and a half days we spoke to over 40,000 and
distributed gospels. There were 1,700 in the hospital and we were accompanied
there by the commanding general and other leading officers. At one time, we
spoke to 10,000 who were at ease on the parade grounds. After the message, we
gave an invitation to those who would receive Christ as Savior and asked them
to respond to Christ with a loud "Yes". It seemed that all 10,000 voices
responded at once. We could hear their voices echo from the hills and I will
never forget that moment. I asked one of the Korean chaplains how many of the
men were hearing the gospel for the first time and he said that 85% had never
heard the gospel before.
We had difficulty getting the gospels to the Nonson center. The train had
taken them well to the north and Joe Copeland had to go and bring them back by
truck in time for the campaign. I was also working with Don Robertson, he
knew his way around Korea and we were together at Nonson as well as in Seoul.
The Salvation Army provided our rooms and a kerosene stove which was less
than adequate for keeping us warm.
As we traveled across Korea I was privileged to speak in churches. It was
a special privilege to speak at the Yong Knock New Life Church, a very large
church built by refugees from North Korea. Dr. Hon was the pastor.
PTL personnel traveled on the trains which were run by the US Army.
We ate free at the army canteens and officers clubs. We went to Pon Mon Jon
where General Harrison gained an armistice and ate at the officer's mess there.
Don drove the PTL truck through the lines, over the controlled bridges and
down to the dividing fence without being stopped to the dismay of the troops in
charge. We got out and took pictures and could have been blown up by mines
but the Lord protected us. We got back safely but were between friend and foe.
Maybe the North Koreans thought we were there to raise the white flag.
The poverty of the refugees in South Korea was pitiful. I was saddened at
the low moral standard of both troops and officers. I spoke at the chapel at
Inchon Harbor and preached openly about sin and what was happening to their
lives. Nearly a third of the congregation responded to the gospel message
including many officers.
Korea left a strong impression on me. At Pusan, I stayed with Dr.
Chisholm, a faithful veteran Presbyterian missionary. Much of Korea had been
evangelized by Presbyterian missionaries and a strong church was in existence.
Many had gone through great persecution. As a result, Korea was developing
the potential to be the missionary to all of SE Asia.
Glenn and I left Seoul for Japan. It was great to find a good bed and a
bowl of oatmeal at the Wagner's. I never tasted anything so good. The food in
Korea had not agreed with me and I lost a few excess pounds. While back in
Japan, I went to an Air Force base north of Tokyo with Pat Befus and spoke to a
small group of ladies there. I also met Captain Fuchida, who led the attack on
Pearl Harbor, who was working with PTL in Tokyo. Another Japanese Christian
had a printing business and printed gospels for PTL. He helped me find good
prices for items in Tokyo.
Glenn arranged for me to address the Missionary Fellowship of Tokyo.
There were nearly a thousand missionaries in Tokyo and they met once a month
for fellowship. About 160 attended the meeting where I spoke on what
impressions I had gathered while visiting Asia. I think some left greatly
disturbed at my remarks. Some missionaries had been there for years learning
the language and had done nothing else. Many did not think speaking through
an interpreter was effective and had no respect for PTL. I told them what God
had done through our interpreters and made the point that it may not be the best
approach, but it is better than doing nothing. Missionaries can become lazy and
continue to do nothing while losing their zeal for reaching the lost. I said that the
cause of Christ would not suffer if half the missionaries were sent home.
I said good-bye to the team in Tokyo and flew to Hong Kong. There I met
another missionary friend and went shopping, shipping some to the friends in
Tokyo and the rest to the States. Hong Kong has long been legendary as a free
port and the prices were as little as a third of what I would have paid in the
I flew to Manila from Hong Kong and stayed with Hannah Compagna,
former dean of women at WBI, for four days. I spoke to students over the radio
and saw some of the work being done for the Lord in the area of Manila. I was
quite impressed with the zeal of some of the missionaries there. The Navigators
had a very good ministry.
I then flew to Hong Kong and then on to Bangkok. There I stayed at the
Alliance guest house and had fellowship with the English missionaries. I visited
the Buddhist temple and found the idolatry unbelievable. I also saw the floating
city and picked up a few silver items. The airport, an American funded
enterprise, had the most interesting lawn mower I've ever seen- fifteen Thai girls
sitting on the lawn trimming it with ordinary scissors.
My next stop was Calcutta. I met and American friend there and we
visited the Coligot temple where they offered blood sacrifices. The beggars were
everywhere and in the temple we saw all kinds of gods. I was impressed with
the fertility god, a cactus tree where women sat and prayed for a child then tied
their prayers to the limbs of the tree. I stayed with a British couple that worked
with a printing and literature distribution ministry. The wife was Indian and
taught a Bible class in a poor section of the city and took me there to teach her
class of women.
I saw Hinduism with all its filth and multiplied gods and the animals
eating up the livelihood of the nation. In New Delhi, there were both Buddhist
and Hindu temples with their idols everywhere. There is a golden covered
sleeping Buddha, one hundred feet long with its feet covered in pearls. I also
took a trip to Aggara to see the Taj Mahal. I also went through the Red Fort. It
was well worth seeing but I paid the price in my health by drinking a glass of
soda water from a proffered glass. I was sick for most of my remaining trip.
I took the night train back to New Delhi and flew through Karachi to
Beirut where I spent the night waiting for a flight to Jerusalem. I was met there
by Mrs. Lambie who drove us to her home in Baracha. I stayed with her for two
weeks while I visited Jerusalem and the Holy Land for the first time. Two other
missionaries lived with her and we traveled together by taxi. Otherwise, I took
the bus and was able to see some things that are not available to tour groups.
Dr. Lambie, who had been at the Institute several times, died two days
before my arrival and was buried in Bethlehem. It was the Friday before Easter
Sunday. On Easter Sunday we all went to the Garden Tomb for the early sunrise
service. The thrill of looking into the empty tomb cannot be described.
Subsequent trips to the Holy Land have enhanced my knowledge and given me a
greater appreciation for the Bible. I have visited the land seven times since this
first trip. Ruth accompanied me in 1975 and LaDelle and I went together in 1985.
I left Jerusalem for Cairo where I was met by the city brass, arranged for
my by my friend Arian Boutros. I was provided with a private guide through
the Cairo museums. I then took a night train to Carnack where I saw the tombs
of kings and visited the Presbyterian mission station where Carl Keefer's brother
That night I returned to Cairo and flew the next day to Athens, then on to
Rome. This was my first view of Europe. From Rome, I took a train to Naples
where I stayed with Dak Patrick and had a view of restored Pompeii. Then I
went to Paris where I was met by Harry and Sadie Kay Besanscon. In Paris I
visited the European Bible Institute and spoke in the chapel service. From Paris,
I flew to London where Billy Graham was holding his campaign.
From London it was home to a reunion with my family after an absence of
99 days. When I arrived in Baltimore, I could see Ruth and the three girls
waiting. Martha dashed by the guards crying, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy" until her
arms were wrapped around my neck. We were both in tears. It was a wonderful
reunion and I never wanted to leave home again.
This new dimension in seeing the world mission fields transformed my
thinking and had its impact on the college student body for the rest of my
presidency. The following is a brief list of my enduring impressions:
1. The task of reaching this world is immense and few are committed
to this task.
2. Mass evangelism, in conjunction with other methods, is extremely
3. Open air evangelism holds great potential.
4. The world is socially and morally degenerate.
5. The world is full of open doors.
6. Satan holds power over the minds of men.
7. The gospel wields tremendous power.
8. Each Christian is accountable for a world witness.
9. The cultured, affluent American is apparently indifferent to the
plight of the world.
10. To become involved in missions is to be committed to missions.
11. Humanity is hopeless and helpless without the saving gospel of the
Lord Jesus Christ.
12. The poverty, filth and degradation of most of the world's
population is a result of the indifference of the rich in these same lands. The
apparent reason is their false religions which cause them to live in a bondage of
fear, with no motivation to care for others.
13. "No man careth for my soul" seems to be the cry of the world.
There is so much more to the story. There were scores of people I met
along the way I shall never forget, people on airplanes with whom I tried to
share the gospel and missionaries who shared with me their victories and trials.
During the 1960's, the Lord opened up some ministry opportunities
outside of the United States. In 1964,1 was invited to go to Jamaica and conduct
a prophetic conference for local pastors. There were 30 who attended for the
week. They were mostly from Plymouth Brethren churches and well versed in
the Scriptures. I also spoke at Jamaica Bible Institute. This gave me a good view
of the church in the West Indies.
In 1968, the Unevangelized Lields Mission invited me to go to Ghana to be
the Bible teacher at their annual field conference. There were 22 missionaries and
I stayed with Russ and Patsy Sasscer in Georgetown where the conference was
held. Then I flew to the mission station in the center of the country for a couple
of days. There was a dentist there from Boston giving three weeks to work on
the missionaries' teeth and work in a clinic to treat members of the Matsha tribe.
Prom there I flew into the jungle to visit the Wiwi tribe. In seventeen years of
ministry, missionaries had developed a written language, established a school
and translated the Scriptures. Half the tribe of 700 had received Christ.
While visiting that tribe, I listened as one of the elders, dressed in only a
pair of trunks, expounded the Scriptures on the Christmas story. I was amazed
to see how much could be learned in such a short time and how many changes
could be made by the impact of the gospel. When this tribe was first contacted,
they were completely naked. They had learned to hunt with shotguns but were
still experts with the bow. The government was beginning to limit the work of
the missionaries because they wanted to keep the primitive condition of the
tribes intact. The missionaries were valuable, however, because they were the
only ones who were willing to offer permanent health care to the tribes.
In early May, 1957,1 went to Dallas to interview Doug MacCorkle for the
position of dean. Since I missed my plane, I met with them in their home early in
the evening. Doug told me that he was looking for a ministry where he could
invest his life in young people. Having decided that WBC was the ideal place for
this, he and his wife Jeanette, and their two children, came to Washington in
Instantly, the MacCorkles became the center of WBC. The students
responded to Doug's enthusiasm and excellent exposition of scripture. He even
made Greek a desirable subject. Jeanette took over the piano instruction and our
daughter Grace benefited greatly from her. The enthusiasm poured over into
increased numbers and it was during Doug's tenure that the registration passed
one hundred. We needed to expand and purchased the old horse barn behind
the buildings for a library and student center.
The seminary was founded in 1958. Doug was the mind behind it and the
accreditation of the college by AABC in 1962. His consistent drive kept us from
being defeated by obstacles. Dr. Raymond Sax came as dean of the seminary in
1962 and added academic stature to the school of fifteen students during his
Our girls had finally matured to the point of beginning college. Grace
chose to attend WBC and began in the fall of 1959 and graduated in 1963. She
had become quite a musician and accompanied the girl's trio all four years as
well as the college choir. She also found her husband, Charlie Hanshew, while in
school. Charlie wanted to finish seminary before marriage so Grace taught piano
at the college for three years before they were married in 1966.
Martha began college a year after Grace. She had also displayed some
musical talent and played both the piano and violin. In addition, she had a
strong alto voice and sang in the girl's trio and choir. As lucky in love as her
elder sister, Martha met Bob Evans at school and they were married in 1965.
Since Martha was a year ahead of Bob in school, she taught at Cherry dale
Christian School for the year between graduation and marriage.
Both girls were very friendly and our homes were a bee-hive of activity
while they were in college. They made life-long friends in school and became an
example and encouragement to others as they entered Christian service.
It was a shock to everyone when Dr. MacCorkle resigned in July 1963 to
become President of Philadelphia College of the Bible. We were unable to find a
replacement on such short notice, so I took over the deans duties for the
following year. Immediately following, Dr. Sax left the seminary for a pastorate
in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Dr. Mulholland, whom I had recruited on the same trip
to Dallas that brought Dr. MacCorkle, took over as dean of the seminary. We
leaned heavily on part-time faculty and Homer Heater became more and more of
an asset during this period. The college numbered around 125 and the seminary
around 20 by this time. Doug had left his mark on the alumni and the Christian
community. We were glad that his abilities could be used in even a greater way
at PCB and were pleased to see him develop into a fine leader in the Bible college
The lack of help made 1963-64 a very difficult year but this caused us to
lean upon the Lord in an even greater way. The testing was good for the school
and the remaining personnel and Professor Bishop remarked that it was one of
the most spiritual years in the school's history.
Our search for a dean continued but we were looking for one with
pastoral experience. Wendell and Martha Johnston filled the role perfectly and
excited everyone with their leadership and hard work. The college continued to
grow and the search for more facilities continued. We made every effort to keep
the school downtown. Jobs for the students were plentiful but parking was not
and facilities were so difficult to come by that a 40x60 gym at the Jewish
Community Center was a real blessing.
At the same time, however, the streets were becoming more dangerous for
the students and evening school attendees were finding it difficult to attend
classes. Student movement had to be greatly restricted. Even the smallest
incidents had potential for disaster and caused us to have second thoughts about
remaining in a downtown location.
In 1968, Wendell Johnston left to become president of Detroit Bible
College. It was difficult to let him go as he had become such a vital part of the
college and instrumental in its growth. His close relationship with the students
encouraged an excellent school spirit.
Our daughters and their husbands were beginning their ministry by this
time and we were pleased with the direction they were taking. Charlie had been
doing some part-time teaching at the college and was enjoyed by his students.
However, he had always felt called to the pastorate. His home church in
Martinsburg, WV, called him and they began their ministry there in 1966. Bob
and Martha had become interested in the work of Pocket Testament League and
in 1967, they went to Brazil to engage in the distribution of the gospel.
Accompanying them was their first child, Charles Tedford, who had been born
earlier that year. He was born during an evangelistic rally downtown where Jack
Wrytzen was speaking. His birth became public when it was announced during
the rally thereby granting him instant celebrity status.
In June 1969, Ruth and I flew to Sao Paulo to visit Bob and Martha and
greet the arrival of our second grandson, Jonathan Miles, born June 27 which was
his great-grandfather's birthday. We were able to stop in Equador to visit John
and Joanne Malone and went through Peru to see the Trouts. Doris Jackling took
me to see the Indians in Tonai, Monta Grasso, with whom she had spent so much
of her life as a missionary. We took a plane and could not get off where we
wanted and had to reach our destination by train. It was exciting for me to see
how the Lord had used a WBI graduate. The school she started was now taught
by Indians which she had educated.
The return trip from the jungle, on the caboose of a freight train, was the
roughest ride I had ever experienced. The only way to keep from being shaken
to pieces was to stand on tiptoe. Since we thought the train was going to leave
without us we had crawled into an empty freight car and made our way back to
the caboose at the next stop. It was worth the time and trials to be able to see
how the Lord had used Doris.
While in Brazil, I also had the opportunity to teach the gospel of John at
the Word of Life camp. Harold Reimer was my interpreter and also my guide at
the Word of Life Bible Institute in Recife. I also visited Evelyn Sakata there doing
work among Japanese with UFM. I always enjoyed seeing the way the Lord was
I had to limit my visit because we were in the process of moving into the
new campus and I was needed at home. However, I left Ruth in Brazil for
another month to help Martha. When her time to leave arrived, they discovered
at the airport that her visa had expired and it took all of Bob's resourcefulness
and energy to get her out of the country.
Martha and the two boys came home a year later to give birth to James
Crawford. One birth in Brazil was enough for her. Bob followed and arrived in
time for the birth and they moved into our home in Arlington. Ruth and I had
decided that we wanted to live closer to the new campus so we moved to
apartments near the school. Bob did not mind the commute and became the
Director of Public Affairs at the college. They were also able to become involved
in Barcroft and Ruth was more involved at the college, taking charge of
managing the mailing list and mailing room.
Dede had been living for us for five years but in May, 1970, it became
apparent that she needed to be place in a nursing home. Ruth never missed a
day visiting her until she passed away a week before Jim's birth in September.
Her absence made it possible for us to house the Evans' until we moved to
In 1975, the Collamore residence was completed on the new campus and
we occupied one of the new two bedroom apartments there. We could walk on
the campus and we had our own laundry facilities. Ruth also became more
involved with the Women's Auxiliary but our attendance at Barcroft became less
and less frequent, mainly because of my speaking engagements.
By 1977, the commute had become too much and Bob and Martha decided
to purchase a home near the school. Ruth and I then sold our house in Arlington
and divided the assets between Grace and Martha in order to make it possible for
them to finance their own homes.
At some point in this life, I got older without realizing it. I think my first
hint came in 1967 when it was discovered that I had a detached retina in my left
eye. I had an operation and the result was that I lost central vision in that eye.
Eventually, cataracts formed on both eyes. In 1980,1 had cataract surgery on my
right eye and had a lens implant to restore vision in that eye. When I had
cataract surgery for my left eye in 1985, the surgery uncovered that the retina
was once again detached. The doctor chose to repair it but was unable to replace
the lens and I have been blind in that eye ever since. So, I have had to adjust to
depending completely on only one eye.
In 1969, Ruth went on Social Security at age 65 and I followed at age 68.
We were then able to greatly reduce our salary from the college. However, the
trustees decided to pay some of the excess into a retirement fund because they
wanted to be able to pay a new person in my position when I retired without
having to devote money from another area. So, my salary remained on the
payroll but it is all in a reserve fund that is available if I ever need it.
My carelessness caused Ruth much pain in 1978. The college had picked
up a three-wheel, battery operated warehouse vehicle at surplus and I wanted
Ruth to be able to use it to get around the campus. On her first trip down over
the lawn, it went out of control. I was walking along side to help familiarize her
with the controls but it fell sideways and trapped one leg cutting and ugly gash
in the lower calf. It bled severely and I called Lena Blevins to help me get her
into the car and over the hospital. She was there for two weeks and it took a few
more for it to heal. Dorcas, a nurse from South Africa, lived in Collamore and
was a great help in dressing the wound every day. That was my last effort at
providing any alternative transportation on campus.
Our fortieth wedding anniversary in 1978 was accompanied by a large
celebration arranged by our daughters. It was a lovely affair at the college with
the usual stories and laughter. We were overwhelmed by the lovely cards, gifts
and good wishes from so many friends.
Ruth's strength seemed to diminish during the 1979-80 period. She began
to bleed severely through the bowels on September 7,1980, and became
progressively weaker. Up to this point, she had been working daily in the mail
room and had made no complaint about pain or discomfort but had required a
great deal of rest. The doctor immediately placed her in the hospital and it took
them a week to locate the bleeding in the upper bowel. They then operated and
removed a section of her colon. It was also discovered that her gall bladder was
infected and that was removed. Cirrhosis of the liver had destroyed most of her
liver and all of these things had contributed to her weakened condition.
However, the two weeks after her operation she seemed to progress normally.
Then she got a staph infection and the antibiotic they gave her reacted against
her kidneys and they stopped functioning. They tried the kidney machine but
she was too weak and went to be with the Lord October 7,1980.
Her brother Walter came two days before she died and that was the last
time she recognized anyone. She was greatly loved by all who knew her. She
had given herself to the work of the Lord day and night. It was not possible for
me to reply to all the telephone calls and cards. Each day I read her mail and
there were hundreds of letters and cards during the month she was in the
hospital. Martha lived close by and spent much time at the hospital and Grace
was down quite often. I was in and out of the hospital three or four times a day
and we had some good times of prayer together. She never complained but her
stay in the hospital was not a pleasant experience. There were many hundreds
of friends praying for her including faculty and students.
We decided to bury the body at once and have the memorial service on
Friday. The funeral director insisted on giving me a casket and told me to pick
out any casket they had. Since the casket would only be used at the burial (there
was no viewing), I chose the most reasonable one believing that she would recoil
at being extravagant with something that would only contain her body.
Her earthly tabernacle was placed beside our daughter Esther. Our family
and a few close friends were at the burial and Pastor Larry Katz of Barcroft
officiated. The memorial service was held at Riverdale Baptist Church on Friday
at noon with fifteen hundred people in attendance. Homer Heater brought the
message and our grandson. Chuck, sang a solo. There were also testimonies
from representatives of the college.
I had a new appreciation for our friends. There were hundreds of
expressions of love and assurance of prayers. The WBC family, faculty, staff,
students, and trustees all shared our trial. I have been grateful to the Lord for
each one. My brother, John, flew down to be with me. It was a blessing to share
with the students thoughts on death and eternity. I faced a new life and
remembered the warning of Paul about looking back. The will of God is still
ahead and we have a great responsibility to Him.
My routine of life changed. I prepared my own breakfast, ate lunch at the
college and cooked my own dinner occasionally. Martha insisted that I eat with
them and the Blevins took me under their wing. Lena refused to let me do my
own laundry. One of the students cleaned the apartment once a week and I
spent a considerable time in my garden for my physical welfare and to occupy
Our family was shocked and saddened when Charlie was killed in a car
accident on Labor Day 1982. Bob gave me the news while I was picking beans in
the garden in the middle of the afternoon. Immediately Bob, Martha and I drove
to be with Grace and her two sons, Dan and Tim. On Wednesday we had a
private burial and a memorial service on Friday at Shenandoah Baptist Church.
John Fletcher, one of Charlie's best friends, brought the message. I stayed with
Grace through the next week helping her resolve some of the items that
accompany such an event. Grace stood strong in the grace of God throughout
this event. The boys also did well considering their ages. The trustees had been
considering Charlie as my successor and that process had to begin all over as
That Christmas, the Evans, Hanshews and I went to Florida in the Evans'
van. We stayed at Maranatha with Ann and Pat Patterson. They had a great
time going to Disney World while I stayed with 18 month old Ruthie. I even
kept her overnight. This was quite an accomplishment for Grandpa.
During my many years of ministry at WBC, I had never considered
ordination a necessity. Basically, I preferred to be considered a layman. I felt
there was a pride with ordination placing a person above the ordinary Christian,
a super spirituality. I refused to perform marriages, not wanting to face the issue
of divorce. However, as the request to perform marriages increased, I began to
think that I was missing an opportunity to serve young people.
Bob Evans had never been ordained, either, but felt that due to his travels
and contacts, many of his responsibilties required ordination. So somehow I
decided to "coat-tail" on his ordination at Barcroft Bible Church. I sneaked by
without an examination pleading if they did not accept my qualifications as
President of WBC, I would forego the ordination. Besides, I had been a member
of most of their ordination councils. The ordination, which took place February
5,1984, did remove some obstacles and qualify me for additional service but it
did not make me more holy. I counted it a special privilege to receive ordination
along with my son-in-law and I was able to perform the wedding ceremony of
our oldest grandson, Chuck, in 1988.
MOVING TO THE NEW PROPERTY
Again, we were without a dean and I took over for the 1968-69 school
year. This was the year of the riots that occurred on 14th street and many
buildings in the area were burned. Our entire staff and student body stood
guard on our buildings. The national publicity concerning the riots brought
concern from parents about the safety of the students. However, we all came
through this crisis safely and the Lord protected our buildings. We all began to
realize that safety of our students and property was of utmost importance and
the only solution seemed to be relocating to a site where to college could expand
and safety would be easier to ensure.
In December, 1968,1 saw the story about the financial problems of the
Society of the Divine Savior in Lanham, MD. They had been fleeced out of $1.5
million by a lawyer and with only twenty-two students were unable to continue.
I visited them and discovered that they were selling their property. It didn't take
me long after touring the property to decide that this was exactly what we
needed for our future. The Trustees then went and looked at the property. All
were impressed with the possibilities. By late January, the Trustees were in full
agreement that we should make an offer and an offer of $1.2 million was placed.
It was immediately rejected because they had already received an offer of $1.4
million. When the other party was unable to get the required zoning, however,
the seminary called us back and asked if we would stand by our offer. We said
we would and arrangements were made to finance and take over the property.
Closure was made on June 29,1969.
We quickly discovered that the previous owners had never had an
occupancy permit. We had to find a friend in the county government who
would assist us in getting occupancy in a hurry. The Lord led us to the right
people and we opened school on the new campus in the fall of 1969. Glenn
Wagner was the speaker at the dedication. Mrs. Ortendahl was in heaven in her
new kitchen and the faculty offices were the best we had ever had.
We were running 250 in the college and 25 in the seminary by this time.
CBS remained in the downtown property along with some of the male dorm
students. We arranged bus transportation to the new campus, an arrangement
which was temporary, inconvenient, but necessary. We also immediately began
facility changes and plans for new construction. In the next ten years, the
student body doubled and the pressure to supply additional facilities increased
My engineering and architectural training and experience came into
prominence when we moved to the Maryland campus. I designed and made all
the preliminary drawings for all nine of the building projects and completed the
working drawings for five of those. I did the campus master plan including all
topography and site plan surveying for the buildings and roads. All of this
turned into long hours at night on the drafting board. I once jokingly told the
trustees that they owed me $125,000 for my technical services besides
supervision of construction. We were able to build for about half of contractor
estimates by doing our own work. The only major incident was the collapse of
the roof trusses during construction of the seminary building due to a sudden
wind. The cost was covered by insurance but several men were seriously
Much of the credit for construction must be given to the gifted Leroy
Blevins. We were able to put our experience and abilities together to develop the
campus. All of this was accomplished without adding to the college debt due to
the prayers and gifts of God's people. The total cost for all the projects was well
over $3 million.
This is a list of new structures which were erected:
1. The 30' x 80' two story Linton building attached to a 30'x60' shop which
was revamped (1970).
2. A 34'x60' extension to the Linton building for class rooms (1974).
3. Steiner dorm (1973).
4. 30'xl00' two story maintenance building (1975).
5. Revamping the ground floor under the lounge for a book store and the
three guest rooms under the dining room including the apartment under
the kitchen (1975).
6. 52'xl06' two story Collamore residence (1975)
7. Walk-in freezer and kitchen storage 16'xl6' (1976)
8. 50'xl00' Two story Seminary building (1978)
9. 30'x50' two story extension to library (1980) dedicated to John and Ruth
10.140'x202' Wagner Center (1980)
11. Soccer field reclaimed from filling dump site (1970)
12. Baseball field made by filling swamp (1976)
We still were without a dean. Bob Woodburn had been on the faculty for
a number of years and seemed the logical choice. When approached in the fall of
1970, he accepted the position. He held this position until 1978 when he became
Vice President at Detroit Bible College. He was one of the best teachers the
college ever had, always thoroughly prepared and well liked by his students. He
later went on to be Academic Dean at Moody Bible Institute.
Once again, we were faced with the problem of selecting a dean. By this
time Jim Schuppe had become a fixture as an excellent teacher. He was well
liked by the students and very capable in a variety of areas. He accepted the
position of dean and remained there until 1989.
The Christian Education department always seemed to create problems.
We engaged some very capable men but, on occasion, their philosophy did not
fit too well with Bible College purposes and goals. As a result, we faced a
number of resignations and personnel changes in the seventies and eighties. In
1983-84 we lost about 50 students as a result of one of these conflicts.
The coming of Carlton Long in 1975 to head the extension ministry was a
much needed addition. Now the evening school would receive needed attention
along with the radio, correspondence department and extension classes. In 1975,
Dr. Sang-Bok David Kim came to our faculty and brought Korean students to the
college. We also experienced an increase in black students as more area schools
were preparing students to handle college level work.
Through the years, my interest in training foreign students increased. In
the summer of 1959, the Pocket Testament League asked me to go to Nigeria for
six weeks for their campaign to reach into schools. My ministry was chiefly in
Lagos and it was an intense day by day program of visiting schools. I visited
Rudy and Grace Piepgrass in Kaduna and saw what the Lord was doing through
the printed page. Through Rudy, Kaduna Press came into being and his vision
was to supply Nigeria with Christian literature and Christian book shops. I met
a young Nigerian named Joshua Ekpikhe, a man greatly influenced for the Lord
by Rudy. My return trip took me through South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Israel and
In the summer of 1961, PTL again asked me to go to Nigeria and assist in
conducting the All-Nigerian Pastor's Conferences. There would be four week
long conferences in four different location. During those four weeks we
ministered to about eighteen hundred pastors. Among them was Joshua
Ekpikhe who was still working at Kaduna Press. He and I became close friends.
In December, 1972, Joshua came to see me at the college. He told me he
had started a Bible Institute at Ikwa Village, SE. State. He asked me to help him
and I agreed to assist him in setting up the curriculum and send some qualified
teachers. His desire was to reproduce WBC in Nigeria. As a result, I have made
four trips to Nigeria to visit Joshua and the college. Graduates from CBS have
been the back bone of the faculty. Now graduates of the three year diploma in
Nigeria have attended WBC and are returning to teach there. In 1990, one
student graduated from CBS and another in 1991.
Among the foreign students we graduated were two girls from the
Bahamas who lived on Long Island. We visited them New Years, 1972. We
actually arrived at Nassau on New Years Eve and stayed in a hotel along the
main street. We awakened at 11:30 to thousands of people marching up and
down the street dressed in fantastic clothes and singing. We stayed up until 4
AM and regretted it the next day when we had to get up and fly to Long Island, a
beautiful island of sunshine and crystal clear water. It was relaxing and great to
see old friends who were now teaching in the public school on the island.
In 1981, Dr. Pindell approached me about retirement. He said the trustees
wanted me to stay on as long as my health permitted. However, in 1982, he said,
"Why don't you set a time when you think it would be God's time for you to step
down?" This set me to praying and I told them that I would retire at age 80. So,
the trustees appointed a search committee to find my replacement. Out of 64
names, Harry Fletcher was chosen in September, 1983, to take office in May,
1984. He was pastoring York Gospel Center, York, PA, and came down one day
a week to get acquainted with the school. So he was installed May 22,1984. I
gave the commencement address on that occasion.
The week of graduation in 1984 marked my retirement and a special
recognition of this was held the Friday evening before commencement. The
college staged an banquet in my honor with 1000 people present. Many friends
and alumni came from great distances. My past was reviewed and the college
surprised me with a new automobile. For the past 16 years I had been driving
cars that people had given to the college, most of them in very good condition.
My brother Nelson, Ruth and Carl, and Avis with her daughter Nancy were in
attendance. They played a tape by my brother John and read greetings from
many. Nelson declared that the four days he spent here were the greatest
spiritual experience of his life. I was presented with a letter from President
Reagan, the Governor of Maryland and two large folders of letters from scores of
Thus ended a period from 1936 to 1984 when I was involved in Bible
Institute, Bible College and Bible Seminary schools with the last forty years spent
After Ruth's death, I had begun to withdraw from people. I spent more
time in my office and was occupied by private matters. After several months, I
began to think that the Lord might want me to marry. Any I thought might have
interest did not encourage me but in the spring of 1984 the Lord seemed to give
me the assurance that He would soon provide.
Martha was very fond of LaDelle Milo and invited her from Texas to
spend the weekend with them and attend the festivities surrounding my
retirement. I was quite glad to see her but was surprised when Martha said to
me, "Daddy, how about LaDelle for a wife?" The statement held some irony
because I had given LaDelle away to Angelo at their wedding in 1948. He had
died ten years earlier and LaDelle was ten years younger than I was. I admired
her but did not think she would be interested in me. We talked casually while
she was here but she began to occupy a portion of my mind.
On Monday after graduation, LaDelle returned to Texas and I left for a
month of prophetic conferences in Nigeria. While in Nigeria, she was on my
mind and so upon return, I called her and made arrangement to visit her. By the
time I arrived in Texas, we had had several telephone conversations and I had
come to believe that she was the person God had prepared for me. The first
evening there, I expressed my interest in and desire for marriage. She accepted
and we were married three weeks later on August 16,1984, our granddaughter
Ruthie's third birthday. We then took up residence in my apartment on the
We made a habit of spending three months in the winter in Florida. We
spent the first winter in Stewart and the last six in Lake Placid at Maranatha. The
Lord has opened many doors of ministry there and I have continued to teach and
minister as the Lord has opened doors since my retirement.
In 1985, LaDelle and I went on a WBC sponsored trip to Israel with a
prophecy theme. Bob asked me to be one of the four speakers on the trip and I
was pleased to be able to bring LaDelle for she had never been to Israel. We
were also able to visit Greece and travel through the Grecian islands as well as
visit Athens and Corinth.
Since then, we have had our share of trials and difficulties. In the fall of
1985,1 had a kidney stone attack. LaDelle and I have both suffered from arthritis
and she has had to spend her time caring for me in my different infirmities. In
September, 1989,1 was stung by bees in the garden and had to be hospitalized.
Then, while in Florida in 1990, it was discovered that I had prostate cancer and
radiation treatments ensued. Since then, I have had problems with a bleeding
bowel and have been in and out of the hospital with varying ailments. We are
also adjusting to the trials of the college in the aftermath of President Fletcher's
resignation and we are witnessing anew the faithfulness of God in sustaining the
college through a crisis. We are as little children having our faith strengthened,
expecting great things from God.
ARTICLE FROM CHOSEN PEOPLE , MAY 1992, CONCERNING THE
IMPACT OF FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS ON WORLD EVENTS:
As the United Nations was considering the future of Palestine, President
Harry Truman formed a Palestinian commission to make recommendations on
the position our nation should take regarding the issue. At that time, George
Miles, former president of Washington Bible College, was conduction a Bible
study in the Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC.
Following a study on the Abrahamic Covenant and the land god promised
to Israel, a visitor came up to Mr. Miles and introduced herself as the wife of one
of the men on the Palestinian Commission. She told Mr. Miles that the
information he shared that evening would be of great interest to her husband.
A few days later, Mr. Miles met with her husband and shred what the
Scriptures had to say about the land promised to the descendants of Abraham.
Impressed by what the Bible had to say and stating that this was information the
Commission needed to hear, he asked Mr. Miles to outline on a map the land
promised to Abraham. Gladly, Mr. Miles obtained a map and outlined the
territory God promised to his people. (The markings along with Scripture
references were placed on a large wall map which was taken by the gentleman to
We will never know the influence this brief encounter had on the United
States' decision to vote for Israel. What we can see, though, is how God placed
Christians in special positions at this important time in history.
A TRIBUTE TO OUR PARENTS ON THEIR 40TH WEDDING
GRACE HANSHEW AND MARTHA EVANS
first published in WBC Tidings
How does one evaluate the effectiveness of a home? The product is not
always a faithful barometer, for children rarely do as well as they have been
taught. There appear to be failures in the best of homes. We believe one accurate
measure of the home lies in the Christian character and consistency of the
parents in that home.
We have known our parents for most of the 40 years they have been
married, and therefore, we feel qualified to comment on their home. We want to
share what we believe has made their home truly Christian.
We were the fourth and fifth of six children born to parents who were
married at the age of 34. We appreciate now the physical and emotional strain
that they went through to welcome and rear a family at that point in their lives.
Probably the thing we treasure most highly from our perspective now is
the faithfulness in spiritual training in our home. From our youngest moments
we were taught the Bible and exposed to spiritual truth. This brought a deep
conviction of sin into our lives and prepared us to trust Jesus Christ as Savior at
an early age. The consistency with which our training was done is now
impressive to us. We believe our parents obeyed the admonition of
Deuteronomy 6:6,7 as closely as any home we have observed.
Spiritual themes were the center of much of our conversation whether at
the dinner table, riding in the car, or working in the garden. We especially
appreciated the emphasis on Scripture memorization. There was an excellent
system of memory and review so that the verses learned in the early years were
retained almost 100%. Family devotions were impressive, perhaps more for their
consistency than anything else. As we grew, we were encouraged to form the
habit of personal devotions.
These factors, along with consistent church attendance on Sundays and
Wednesdays, invested wonderful things in our lives. We appreciated parents
who were patient with us spiritually. Even though they must have been
discouraged many times in our growth and experience, they patiently waited
until God did his work in our lives.
Many are the happy moments of our childhood as our father played with
us. One of our favorite games was "Big Bear". Our father was the big bear who
scared us and sent us shrieking through the house. A nightly ritual was all three
of us (two on the shoulders-one on the back) riding piggyback to bed. Even
though these were busy days of ministry for our father, one strong impression is
of him reading to us at night before we went to sleep.
We enjoyed strong family ties with our father's large family in Michigan
and our mother's family in Pennsylvania. We always looked forward to summer
vacations when we would visit the relatives. This sense of family and belonging
added to the stability and security of our home.
No one could be in our home long before they would be impressed with
the generosity of our parents. Our home was open to all. Although always on a
limited income, our parents willingly shared with those who had a need.
We were taught many lessons of faith during our childhood. These were
illustrated in daily life experience. When an appliance broke, the first impulse
was not to go our and buy another one, or call a repairman. We always prayed
for the Lord to supply and tried to make the old one do whenever possible.
Our father's generosity has always been demonstrated to us in his garden.
For years, he would try to get us to help him in the garden. We constantly
murmured and complained about the hard work of pulling a week or two or
picking a row of beans. Yet he has always been generous with the produce of
that garden. Even now, he often brings it to our door because we have been "too
busy" to pick it up.
Our parents have never worried about treasure on earth or financial
security for their old age. The eternal treasure has always been more important
to them. Consequently, they have poured all they have had into the lives of
others. They have personally helped many students through college, and
supported their local church and other ministries of interest to them. Just last
year, they sold their home, the only substantial investment of their lives, and
gave the money to their children which enabled us to have our own homes.
How thankful we are for them every day of our lives.
It is interesting to note what motivates different people to Christian
service. We believe our parents' positive attitude toward serving the Lord was a
major factor in our desire to follow their footsteps. They always communicated
to us the joy and privilege of serving Christ, and their prayers for us influenced
us greatly. Having missionaries and Christian workers in our home was a factor
in our vocational choice as well. Our parents encouraged us in a Bible education
which has blessed our lives beyond measure and given us a foundation for a life
Perhaps the most significant factor which stands out regarding our
parents' lives is their faithfulness and steadfastness in the work of the Lord.
They have never been dependent on external results or human encouragement in
continuing in the work to which God has called them.
Above and beyond the right things done in our home has been the
demonstration of consistent Christian character which has been used to convince
us of the validity of the Word of God, the blessing of a yielded life and the joy of
To our parents we say thank you for our heritage which we treasure
above life itself. We honor, highly esteem and appreciate you.
REFLECTIONS CONCERNING RUTH ESTHER MILES
by George A. Miles
Ruth Esther Miles was born in Kaylor, Pennsylvania. At the age of
thirteen, she trusted Christ as her personal savior. After graduating from Butler
Business College, she taught there until the age of thirty-two. In 1936, she came
to Washington, DC, to work as a secretary in the Department of Agriculture. At
this time, she became interested in Bible study, which led her to assurance of
salvation. She resided with Mary Hervey, who was very active in the American
Home Bible Institute. While I was president of this school, Ruth responded to
my need for secretarial help. This association led to our marriage on October 22,
1938. From that time until the present, she made herself available to do whatever
was needed to advance the work of the Bible college and the spread of the gospel
around the world. She worked at the college until the day before she entered the
hospital, September 10,1980.
Our lives have been enriched by the blessing of two daughters, Grace and
Martha; sons-in-law, Charlie and Bob; and six grandsons. We have been
surrounded by hundreds of dear friends who have encouraged us in the
A more devoted grandmother would have been hard to find. Her deep
interest in her grandchildren, and especially in their spiritual welfare, was
evidenced by her consistent prayer for them.
Her early family ties were very dear to her. She often expressed her love
and prayers for her only brother, Walter, her sister-in-law, Margaret, and their
son Dan, and other members of the Crawford family as well.
Ruth's dedication was three-fold. The first was to our Lord Jesus Christ.
She was a yielded vessel to her Savior. The second was her dedication to her
husband and his ministry for our Lord Jesus Christ. She was a vital part of every
activity for the Lord. We did it together. The third was her dedication to her
family. Her children were a gift and trust from the Lord, and no sacrifice was too
great to assure their spiritual and physical well-being.
In 1945, when I was asked to assume the presidency of Washington Bible
Institute, I asked her what she thought of it. She said, "Whatever the Lord leads
you to do, I am with you one hundred percent."
She loved children and believed that the two to four year olds were
neglected and needed special training in the Word of God. She loved to serve
with this age group at Barcroft Bible Church. She filled our home with the
neighbors' children, when our children were young, as she sponsored Child
Evangelism Fellowship Good News Clubs.
Ruth was instrumental in starting the Women's Auxiliary of the college
twenty-five years ago. She was the potential of their united prayer and united
support of college needs. These women were especially dear to her. She
delighted in their fellowship and service.
When Ruth undertook a task, she never quit. She never complained when
our family was on short rations or times were difficult at the school. She had
unwavering faith that God was at work and all would contribute to His glory.
She only worked the more and prayed more diligently. She shunned any public
appearances and deferred all requests to speak in public.
No husband could have had greater love and devotion from his wife or
greater support in his life's work. Her encouragement was always there. "She
has done him good and not evil all the days of her life" (Proverbs 31:12). "Her
children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also and praiseth her"
(Proverbs 31:28). I thank God for her godly influence on a multitude of people
and the example she has been to all of us in our home, (above excerpt from the
program of Ruth E. Miles' Memorial Service)
She never forgot the fact that her mother was separated from, and for
most of her life was without the support of her husband. She raised Ruth and
Walter by hard labor. In the heart of both children was a deep love for their
mother and they never neglected her needs when they became old enough to
work. Ruth's example of concern for Dede until she died was a biblical lesson in
caring for our parents.
Another lasting memory was her love for and concern for our neighbors.
They knew she cared for them.
Ruth had a brilliant mind. Her memory surpassed that of any person I
have ever known. She graduated from high school at age 16 and was also
teaching in the Butler Business College at 16. I depended on hr memory for
telephone numbers and addresses and to recall all those people to whom we
If we have any children or grandchildren who rise above the average
intellectually, they should thank God for their grandmother. Like Ruth the
Moabitess, she loved God supremely, was anxious to serve, and God's hand of
blessing was upon her.
She had very little opportunity to grow spiritually until she came to
Washington and attended the American Home Bible Institute. She went through
the entire BMA memory program and took our children through the program. I
never knew her to have an enemy.
We often discussed our impending separation by death and advised each
other what to do in this eventuality. However, the experience is quite another
matter. The utter dependence upon each other for forty-two wonderful years has
suddenly been broken. It is not possible to contemplate in advance the
emotional reaction or the sense of being adrift with no shore in sight. The reality
is gone but difficult to realize. The simple solution is to first acknowledge the
fact and begin to thank God for His faithfulness. The scriptural truth about
death is now a reality. She is at home where our Lord has prepared a place for
her. It is far better there than here. Our love for her becomes satisfied in her
endless joy at His right hand.
The human mind is an amazing creation. By the truth of the Word it can
recollect that which is eternal and refuse to indulge in that which is temporal.
There is a blessed side to this inevitable separation. It is only temporary.
Through the years we have been permitted to experience short periods of
separation. These are a foretaste to the longer caused by physical death. Yet the
anticipated reunion is one of joy and not sorrow.
Now we are to continue life and its fulfillment in the will of God. What
does it hold? The satisfaction of turning it over to Him to whom it belongs. The
Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Self-
pity is poor business and I must not permit myself this costly entertainment.
How foolish to seek to undo what God has done. Our breath is in His hand and
the redeemed soul can only anticipate the greater things daily prepared for the
delight of God's children.
I cannot fully express my appreciation for the love of Grace and Martha
and their families through this trial. They too must face the same separation and
adjust to the reality of an earthly separation from one they loved so dearly.