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Chapter 44. The Gum In The Offering Plate Church

November 15, 2010

The Gum In The Offering Plate Church

Agnes was mad, she was real mad! She had long ago gotten past being upset. She was irritated by what was happening in her world. Her world was out of control. This was not the life she had planned for herself.

Her family was by far the richest in her hometown of Bolivar, Missouri. They owned the entire town. Well, at least most of it was theirs. Her maiden name of Burke was a name that was well respected in Bolivar. It got respect because it carried most of the money.

Everything had been wonderful in her world up till now. Her husband Bill was not rich nor did he come from a moneyed family like hers, but he wasn’t afraid of hard work and was a good provider. They loved each other. They had recently moved to the Riverside, California area.

When Agnes found out that Bill had somehow wandered into one of those Pentecostal Holy Roller churches, she was mortified. They were good Catholic people from a long line of Catholics. This shouldn’t be happening.

When Bill came home from the little Pentecostal church, he was acting different. He said he’d gotten the Holy Ghost and had talked in tongues.

Agnes was not happy, and went through the roof. She argued. She ranted. She raved. This was unbelievable and totally unacceptable. She had to find a way to get Bill back on track and away from all of them low class Holy Rollers.

She finally decided to go to the little church with Bill and see if she could fix the mess Bill had just gotten them into.

The ladies looked horrible to her with their long hair, long dresses and long sleeves. The women had their hair done up on their heads. They all looked old fashioned and out of date. Agnes knew she would never fit into a church like this one. All of the women in the church dressed that way. Agnes refused to comply. She was determined to show her disdain for their manner of dress. She was determined to never be part of something so ridiculous.

She seldom missed a service, however. Her attendance was not because she was interested. She wasn’t. She despised everything about this new religion of Bills. Somehow, she had to get him away from this craziness.

To express her disdain for the ‘holiness’ dress code of the holy rollers, she wore things she knew they would disapprove of. She wore sleeveless dresses to church. She wore slacks. She even wore mini-skirts just to get a reaction from them.

She hated every thing about these holy rollers. She criticized Bill’s involvement. She made his life a hell at home.

At church, Agnes purposely didn’t smile much. She just sat there and chewed her gum. She always did. She knew that chewing gum in church was considered disrespectful, but what did she care. When the offering was being received, Agnes would take her gum out and press it into the dollar bills in the plate.

She was pleased to watch the church secretary try to separate the gum from the paper dollars. It was one of the few things she enjoyed about church.

Her husband Bill had laid on the floor, she found out, when he was praying to receive the ‘Holy Ghost,’ or whatever it was called. He evidently thrashed around quite a bit and rolled back and forth so much that the Evangelist, Carl Ballestero, actually sat on him to hold him still so he could receive the Holy Ghost. How stupid, she thought.

For six months now, Agnes had constantly shown her disdain and disrespect for the Pentecostals.

Bill & Agnes Yandris after she received the Holy Ghost.

One night, a visitor came. The visitor was an old woman who had been in the original Azusa Street Mission. The presence of the Lord fell and people began to worship, but not Agnes. The old lady came to where Agnes was standing and even though she refused to pray, the old sister began to minister to her. In a few moments, she laid her hands on Agnes and prayed. God immediately filled her with the Holy Ghost.

She soon, dropped to her knees, and then fell on the floor talking in tongues. She rolled. She rolled down the aisle. She rolled up under the piano and lay there for two hours, talking in tongues. She couldn’t stop.

Bill took his wife home drunk in the Holy Ghost that night. She went to sleep still talking in tongues. At 3am, Agnes got out of bed and went next door to her neighbors, and beat on the door.

The neighbor lady said, ‘Agnes, what are you doing beating on my door at 3am? Is something wrong? Do you need something?”

All Agnes could do was speak in tongues. She gave up and went back to her house.

In time, God called Bill to preach the Gospel. A transformed Agnes and her husband, Bill (Wild Bill) Yandris, went to Merced, California and built a beautiful church to the glory of God. The Apostolic Tabernacle.

The very godly Sister Agnes Yandris will soon be 90, Her beloved Bill, has gone home to his glorious reward.

Bro. And Sis. Bill Yandris

Apostolic Tabernacle of Merced, CA

This too is Home Missions.


Here is a link to learn more of the Apostolic Tabernacle and it’s history.

Apostolic Tabernacle – Merced CA

Chapter 43. The Possum Gumbo Church

October 15, 2010

The ‘Possum Gumbo Church

Martyn Ballestero

Almost fifty people sat in the little wooden church house in Lunita, Louisiana. They had come to a Youth Revival to hear 19-year-old Marty Ballestero from South Bend, Indiana. Pastor Kirkland had announced revival services for the next nine nights.

There was only one musical instrument in the church, a piano. The pastor’s 16yr. old daughter played the best she could. She was backslidden, but they needed some music, and that’s all they had. No one else could play the piano.

The year was 1963, the month was November, and I was out in the sticks. There was not a traffic light or a stop sign to be found for miles. There was not much to be seen here, but piney woods. While praying in those woods I got 59 chigger bites in one hour. I spent the rest of my prayer meetings indoors. It is easier to scratch indoors.

The song service was started with the ‘choir’ coming up on the platform to sing. The ‘choir’ consisted of whoever wanted to come up. Only a few remained seated in the audience. No one shouted during the revival, nor seemed to be overly blessed by the singing or the preaching. But everyone was friendly and said nice things to their guest.

The crowd was made up of hard working but poor, salt-of-the-earth kind of folks. During prayer requests, names like, ‘Sis. Turtle’, and ‘One-Legged Willie’ got mentioned. No one seemed to be amused by the unusual nicknames.

The offering pan was passed every night and the change clanging on the bottom was very noticeable.

I was staying in the wing just to the left of the auditorium. My room had a bed and nothing more. An outhouse was near where a white building now stands. The wing has been more than doubled in size and everything is enlarged and bricked now.

The woods came right up beside the church house then. The trees came so close it was possible to squirrel hunt sitting on the platform.

Bro. Kirkland, the pastor, lived in a mobile home with his wife, his daughter, and son. The trailer was parked to the right of the church. It sat in the tree line as well. He drove a casket delivery truck for Batesville Casket Company. I rode with him a few times during the day for fellowship.

At night after church, I would be invited to eat at their house.

I had never had much of an opportunity to eat Cajun cooking before. I had spent too many years out west and up north. One night, Sister Kirkland said, “I hope you like gumbo, brother,” as I entered her house.

“Oh yes ma’am,” I said. I didn’t know if I did or didn’t, but when you are only eating one meal a day, you don’t get too picky, because it’s 24 hours till they invite you over again.

I watched how my hosts ate their gumbo. It was served with a whole egg in it on one side and a generous helping of warm potato salad over on the other side. The rue was dark. I was hungry and ate mine up. The taste was a little different, but then I’d never had gumbo before, so I didn’t know.

“That’s ‘possum gumbo, brother.” The pastor’s 14yr. old son said. Did you like it?”

I didn’t want to say I liked it because the inward shock of being told I’d just eaten ‘possum was one thing, but to knowingly lie was another.

“It tasted pretty good whatever it was.” Was my come back.  I don’t think I would have knowingly wished to eat possum, but I did.

I had been gone from home a little over a month and had been preaching a few nights here and there. This was my first revival since going full time.

Since the piano player was backslidden, I chose not to have any music for altar service the entire revival. I had to give altar calls without music. I wanted her to pray through and knew she couldn’t play and pray at the same time. She did pray through on the last weekend.

I didn’t know, till after service one night, that President Kennedy had been assassinated the day before. There was no radio in my room or newspaper in Lunita to keep me informed.

Sixteen young people prayed through during those nine nights. Many of them were backsliders.

The last night, Bro. Kirkland announced that an offering had been taken every night and that a total of $4.65 had come in for the evangelist. He said that he would like to have the church vote to give him permission to raise the total up to $5.00.

All those that were in favor of the evangelistic increase in funds stood to their feet, it was the first election I had ever won.

I went to Deweyville, Texas, on the Texas/Louisiana state line that night. I spent $3.50 in a phone booth for a 3 minute call to my dad, telling him of my offering. I then bought 5 gallons of gas at the Billups station for $1.00, for my ’55 ford and drove across the street to Nick’s Restaurant. There I ordered a $.35 Cheeseburger and spent my last $.15 on a large Dr. Pepper.

I left Deweyville broke and happy.

This Is Home Missions Too.

Lunita Pentecostal Church - October 2010

Chapter 42. The Old Restaurant Church

October 8, 2010

The Old Restaurant Church

Where The Apostolic Church is located now, was originally a restaurant. It had started out as The Western Sizzler Steak House. It stood on a small hill overlooking Historic Highway 66 on the edge of town. Its four lanes of highway were closely paralleled by another four-lane road scarcely 100 yards apart.

Even with all the heavy traffic under it’s nose the steakhouse struggled to survive and finally closed. It reopened eventually, as a Mexican restaurant. This new enterprise was not was not able to last very long either, and finally closed. The big sign overlooking the highway sadly announced the fact when the letters were removed. The restaurant sat empty for a time.

The church had been closer to town and was temporarily housed in a storefront, They dreamed of the day when they would have a place of their very own.  They gave sacrificially and saved. They had fundraisers. They prayed and the looked.

Last year the Lord made way for the empty restaurant to be purchased by the church and they worked hard to remodel their new facility.

Many work nights were needed to make the transition. The normal Thursday midweek service was often cancelled or temporarily changed to accommodate the workers schedules.

In January, the pastor called a three-day fast.  He also announced special prayer meetings for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Communion would be served on Wednesday. This service was just for the church family. No visitors were to be invited.

Unbeknown to anyone, a stranger named Sam drove by the restaurant on his way to work everyday at a hospital a little farther west. He noticed a new church name on the old restaurant sign. Something happened to him when he drove by the church. It made him look towards it. He felt peace when he drove by the church.

Sam was in pain. His memories hurt him. His heart hurt him. His conscience hurt him. He knew he needed church. He wanted to get right with God. He had been around an Apostolic Church before. But now he was ready.

He drove back that night, but the service night had been changed. Undeterred, Sam tried several other times to get there when there was church.

It happened, that on the night of the Wednesday Communion service, that Sam and his girlfriend showed up and sat in the back.

The pastor was caught off guard to see a new face on a Communion service night. He didn’t feel he could serve Communion to those that didn’t live for God. Almost apologetically, he explained what was getting ready to happen in the service and said that Communion was for the church family.

Sam and his girlfriend never budged. The pastor had tried to run them off in a nice way, but they had stayed. This was going to complicate things.

Cloths covered the trays that contained the Lord’s Supper. They sat on a table in front of the pulpit.

After worship and prayer the pastor read his scriptural passages and explained that he wanted to serve communion to the church one family at a time.

In so doing, he not only served each one, but personally prayed for them as well.

Sam and his girl friend quietly talked. He wanted to go up and take communion. She invited him to go in front of her, and if he got turned down, she wouldn’t have to wait to be turned down. She’d leave or something.

Every one else in the building had been served except Sam and his girl. Sam had stood at the back of the line. He didn’t know if anyone noticed or not, but tears were rolling down his cheeks.

It was like the floodgates of his heart opened. The tears streamed and heavily stained his shirt. The whole front of his shirt was wet with tears when he stood in front of the preacher to receive Communion. The Pastor laid his hands on Sam’s head and immediately, Sam began to speak in tongues. What an experience he got!

The church folks all said it was the best Communion service they’d ever had. Oh yes, Sam’s girlfriend got the Holy Ghost too. They got married too.

Here is Bro. Sam beating on the old drum during a praise service. He is a good worshipper.

His precious wife is now one of the praise singers. To God be the glory.

This Too Is Home Missions

Chapter 41. The Theatre Church

July 23, 2010

The Theatre Church

The church needed a temporary building while they waited for their new facilities to get finished. They had hoped to be in the new church by now, but as every pastor knows, delays often happen.

The new church was being built in Diggins, Missouri. Actually at one time there had been a store, a bank and enough buildings to have a modest little town in Diggins. When Highway 60, the big four lane, came through, it bypassed the businesses and pretty much everything shut down.

That didn’t stop Pastor Herion. He started building a new building right on the highway. The problem was, where to have church in the meantime? His old building was sold.

A few miles from Diggins is a somewhat larger community called Seymour. This little town sports a town square, a police department and old movie theater and even a McDonald’s.

It was summer time in Missouri and the heat and humidity forced the owner of the “Owen Theatre” to let his theater building sit empty. He used a Drive-In Theater during the hot months because his building in town didn’t have air conditioning.

Pastor Herion couldn’t find any available buildings to have church in. someone told him about the empty theater. That seemed like his only option, so he rented the building for the summer.

Owen Theatre was built in 1941. It was small with a center aisle and it only had a few chairs on each side.

Near where a platform would be, was a pool table and someone even had put some video games including Ms Pac Man.

The room was dark and musty. There weren’t very many electrical outlets, so extension cords were run everywhere.

A sheet of plywood was placed on top of the pool table and that served as a table to hold the sound equipment.

Sheets were placed over the video games to cover them, and large fans were brought in. they sounded like small airplane engines. One fan was placed near the front door and the other fan was placed near the back door. They were so loud that most of the time they were turned off for testimony service and preaching.

In spite of the less than perfect atmosphere, the saints rallied. They worshipped. They had good church there too. Some services still stick out in the congregation’s minds.

When some of the brothers got happy and wanted to run the aisle, there just wasn’t any room. So, they ran out the back door, turned right, ran down the alley to the street, turned right, and ran to the corner, again turning right. They ran past the Seymour Police Station turning into the Owen Theatre.

When they got feeling real good, they would make several laps.

During the service one night, a downpour of rain came, but that didn’t stop the men. They ran their laps out the back down and around the block. They came back in soaked. Undeterred, they ran it the 2nd time, then a 3rd time. The last time they were totally soaked. Not only did they feel good in the Holy Ghost, but they had also provided much amusement to the bored Police Department of Seymour

Today, situated out on Highway 60, is the Apostolic Church of Diggins. The building is absolutely beautiful! Bro. & Sis Bruce Herion have done an awesome work for the Lord, out in the middle of nowhere!

The Herions

This Too Is Home Missions!.

Chapter 40. The Stronghold Of Satan Church

July 13, 2010

The Stronghold Of Satan Church

What was wrong? How come the church didn’t grow? It hadn’t been growing at all. In fact it actually was going down the other way. There didn’t seem to be anything visibly wrong in the church or with the people. But there just wasn’t the degree of liberty in the services like the new pastor knew there should be.

The four or five pastors before him had come here and they had all given up in frustration and despair. Some of them had even shaken the dust off their feet as they left town. Revival couldn’t happen here.

A very young Gerald Adams had recently accepted the pastorate of Life Tabernacle in Hopkinsville, KY.  Although he was young, he was a man of faith and vision. The Holy Ghost had used him in many Deliverance Meetings around the country.

His prayers, like the other pastors before him, had brought him no conclusive solution to the dilemma. He prayed to God for direction.

One day while seated in a waiting room at the Hospital, his eyes fell on a magazine featuring a local Hopkinsville resident and celebrity of sorts, psychic Edgar Cayce the “Sleeping Prophet”.

Edgar Cayce

The article told about this prophet that went into trances while asleep and talked to people who lived thousands of years ago.

He demonstrated the uncanny ability to put himself into some kind of self-induced sleep state by lying down on a couch, closing his eyes, and folding his hands over his stomach.

From this state he could respond to visitor’s questions as diverse as, “What are the secrets of the universe?” to “How can I remove a wart?” He was even purported to be able to go back in time and have conversations with Bible characters such as John the Baptist and the Disciples.

His responses to these questions came to be called “readings”. Cayce would simply remove his shoes, lie down on a couch, loosen his tie, close his eyes, and relax. As he fell off to sleep questions would be put to him and he would respond verbally. Someone would have to transcribe the sessions into writing for accurate telling as Cayce would have no recollection of what he had foretold once awakened.

Cayce was reported have owned about two-thirds of the stores in downtown Hopkinsville. He had written over 300 books and booklets. Thousands believed this Sleeping Prophet and followed his every word.

When Pastor Adams finished reading the story about Edgar Cayce, the Lord revealed to him that Cayce’s influence represented a stronghold of spiritual wickedness that needed to be broken.

Cayce had an army of followers in the city.  They also helped hold up a local barrier of resistance against righteousness.

Brother Adams had his answer. He drove to every hill or vantage point where he could look over the city. He prayed. He stretched his hands over the city and prayed against the stronghold of Satan. He prayed fervently. He surrounded the community with his prayers driving all around the town stopping to pray wherever he could.

Liberty in the church services was immediate and refreshing. The Holy Ghost had helped him find the key to revival in his town. The church began to grow. The church soon out grew it’s building and a new auditorium had to be built.

Yes, that was over 30 years ago and Life Tabernacle in Hopkinsville is no longer a struggling Home Missions Church today. Today it’s a mighty church with a large congregation.

Bishop & Sister Gerald Adams

Pastor & Sister Anthony Gally

Bishop Gerald Adams and Pastor Anthony Gally together with Life Tabernacle, greatly rejoice today because over 200 received the Holy Ghost in a three-week period in this, the summer of 2010!

Many of the businesses Cayce owned are now closed and the property sold. His grave and his history remain, but the spirit that possessed him to bewitch thousands around the world met its demise long ago in Jesus name.

Jesus said in Mark 3:27 “No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.”

Indeed, Satan’s stronghold was broken in Hopkinsville, KY!

This Too Is Home Missions!

Chapter 39. The Blood Stained Church

July 6, 2010

The Blood Stained Church

Bob had backslid many times. He’d been in and out of the little Home Missions Church so many times that he’d lost track. He thought it had been maybe 13 or 14 times. He was ashamed. Why couldn’t he live for God? Maybe he just was one of those that God couldn’t help. Or maybe God had finally given up on him because of his many failures and weaknesses.

It had been nearly two years since he’d been back to church. The devil really wanted him to believe that there was no more hope for him. Bob was easily convinced. There was no point in even going back and trying anymore. He’d done that over dozen times without success. Besides, no one believed in him anymore. Bob was though with church and through with God, because he just knew God was through with him.

Bob was a good worker and men at the plant respected him for his abilities. His personality gained him many friends as well.

One day at work Bob got a chemical on his hand that left a bad stain. He tried to wash it off and even used hand cleaner. All his attempts to remove the stain were unsuccessful.

He was so embarrassed that night when he had to wear a suit to go to a fancy restaurant, that he kept his hand in his pocket so no one would see the stain.

The next day at work, Bob got too close to a machine and it sliced his hand deeply. Blood gushed everywhere.

“Call 911,” several people shouted. “Bob’s hurt bad!”

“Naw, don’t call 911, just take me to Med-Point.” Said Bob as he tried to wrap a shop rag around his hand and apply pressure to stop the gushing of blood.

“How bad is it?” Some one asked?

Bob took the shop rag off and wiped away the blood to see home deep the cut was. When he looked at the cut and then at his hands, he saw that the stain was gone. He immediately started to cry. The blood had washed away the stain.

His legs gave way and he fell to his knees. With tears running down his cheeks, Bob raised his hands in the air. The blood was still pumping profusely.

The men looked at Bob in amazement as they heard him speaking words they couldn’t understand.

“Call 911, Bob’s really hurt. We’ve never seen Bob cry!”

The men were concerned. Very concerned.

“Don’t call 911”, Bob said, “I’ll be alright! “

“Well if you’re alright, then why are you crying?”

Bob stopped long enough to say nineteen words that forever changed his life and restored his soul.

“Because I see for the first time in my life that the Blood of Jesus washes away my sins!”

This Too Is Home Missions!

Chapter 38. The Town Hooker’s Church

July 2, 2010

The Town Hooker’s Church

For many years, I preached annual revivals in a very small West Texas town. The town was so small that after church it was not uncommon for the pastor or saints to drive an hour and a half to Odessa or Midland just to get something to eat.

The pastor was a dear family friend. The church was one that really worshipped and was easy to preach in. They loved the Word and the loved their “Man of God.”

The church had not grown significantly in many years. The little group prayed for revival and worked hard to bring visitors to the revival.

A seventeen-year-old Foster child sought for the Holy Ghost for over an hour every night. He sought fervently and with tears. He had prayed every night of the 4 week Revival.

The last Saturday of the revival, the pastor and I talked about Home Bible Studies. He said, “When I came up in church, we’d never heard of them. I’ve been here for 30 years or so and we’ve never taught any Home Bible Studies. Not only do we not have any material, if we had some, we wouldn’t know how to go about teaching them. Could you teach our people how to teach a Home Bible Study?”

Although I said that I could and would, there wasn’t any material within 100 miles. There also wasn’t any Internet connection to download anything.

I was relieved to find a copy of Bishop Gerald Adam’s ‘Deeper Life’ Home Bible Study in my briefcase. Bro. Adam’s was kind when I called and granted permission for me to make copies of his Bible Study for the occasion.

(The Deeper Life Home Bible Study is now digitized and can be found on the Hopkinsville, KY church website.)

I asked the pastor what he thought about me putting a table in front of the pulpit Sunday morning and teaching a Home Bible Study to some one while everyone else watched and followed along with their copy. He agreed and said he would have the table and chairs set up right after the preliminaries.

Standing on the platform Sunday morning I noticed two new visitors. A teenage boy stood on the right side and a 20 something young woman on the left.

For a few minutes after the song service, the church family went around and personally welcomed the visitors and greeted each other.

I noticed the boy seemed very sincere and responsive during the singing, so I went over and welcomed him. The young man smiled warmly when I introduced myself. He told me his name was Billy.

I said, “I’m a visitor here too, Billy. They’ve asked me to teach what they call a ‘Home Bible Study’ this morning. It’s a thing where two people sit at a table and basically just read scriptures from the Bible.

“I really don’t know who to choose to help me out today. But whoever does, doesn’t have to say a word. All they have to do is just act like they are reading the material. Do you think maybe you can help me out today?”

“Sure,” he said.

Later when they introduced me to speak, I explained to the church that I had asked Billy to help me and invited them to make him welcome. They gave him a good round of applause.

Billy and I sat at the small table in front of the pulpit. Each person there was given a copy of the Home Bible Study. I saw the look of sincerity and interest in the young man’s face.

He nodded as I spoke to him. I looked only at him and not at the crowd. We took less than an hour to go through the study.

The organ player began to play softly as we all stood. The table and chairs were removed. I looked to my left where Billy had stood and then I looked down. He was kneeling at the altar. All the others came forward too. Billy received the Holy Ghost in just a few minutes.

I heard shouts go up at the other end of the altar and saw that the young woman was praying and the ladies were rejoicing. She also received the Holy Ghost and excitedly thanked the Lord.

The pastor whispered in my ear, that someone had just told him, this new girl was the town’s hooker. The town’s only hooker. Her name was Sarah.

The saints were ecstatic about what God had done in the service that morning.

Sunday night’s service started.  The front doors burst open as the 17-year-old Foster kid entered the church crying and speaking in tongues. He had prayed during the day, and while taking his shower before church had received the Holy Ghost while still in the shower. He was still talking in tongues when he got to church. He couldn’t stop and he was excited. The saints rejoiced. I mean really rejoiced.

Billy and Sarah came back too. The church shouted and ran the aisles. Joy was in the camp.

The front door again opened and an unhappy faced man walked in and sat on the back row. Sarah was too lost in worship to notice that her pimp was there. He watched the worship for a while. Several were uneasy not knowing what would happen.

Testimony service had new life that night. When Sarah got done testifying and thanking the Lord, the guy on the back row got up and walked out shaking his head.

He was officially out of business. Sarah never noticed.  She started to dance before the Lord. She had been delivered.

This Too Is Home Missions!

Chapter 37. The Bus Ministry Church

June 30, 2010

The Bus Ministry Church

The middle-aged guest at the dinner table was well respected for his passion for souls. He was an anointed preacher who knew first hand about Home Missions. He had been there.

Bro. ‘Thompson’ looked across the table at his young, 30-something hosts. He had been invited to preach their church anniversary service. Although he didn’t really know the young pastor, he was glad he had accepted the invitation. He liked what he saw in them.

The food was delicious; the conversation was comfortable and light. Realizing he didn’t know much about the young pastor or his wife, Bro. Thompson began to inquire.

“Where did you get the Holy Ghost? Whose church are you out of?” He said looking at the younger man.

When the pastor finished telling about his Pentecostal heritage, Bro. Thompson was all smiles because he knew the young man’s pastor and rich background.

Turning to the young wife, he asked, “And where did you get the Holy Ghost? Whose church are you out of?”

What he heard was unbelievable. It was totally unexpected. He was stunned. His eyes widened while his mind raced to fill in missing pieces.

“I got the Holy Ghost in your church, Bro. Thompson!”

“In my church?” He responded in disbelief.

He apologized for not remembering her. When he asked what her last name was, it didn’t ring a bell either.

“Oh, don’t feel bad, she consoled him. There’s no way you could remember me. My parents never came to church and still don’t. I was only eight years old and rode the Sunday School bus to church. I never came into the auditorium. I just went straight to my class and then got back on the bus and went home.

“I got the Holy Ghost in Sunday School. I came for almost two years. When I was about ten years old, my parents moved to another state. My Sunday School teacher helped me find a Pentecostal church in the new town and arranged for me to get a ride to church.

“When I graduated from High School, I went to Bible School and that’s where my husband and I met. The rest, as they say, is history.

“Oh… and thank you for having a Bus Ministry. If you hadn’t had a Bus Ministry, I would never have been here! I would have never received the Holy Ghost.”

Tears welled up in Bro. Thompson’s eyes.

This Too is Home Missions!

Chapter 36. The Downspout In A Bucket Church

June 22, 2010

The Downspout In A Bucket Church

Eleven people sat quietly in the dank, poorly lit basement room. There was enough seating for about 30 people, but no one could remember it being full.

It had a bit of an odor too. The bare concrete block walls were unpainted and unprotected light bulbs hung from the ceiling by two bare strands of wire. The benches appeared to have not been professionally constructed and the flooring was unpainted concrete slab. There were no windows in the room either.

This room took up less than one-fourth of the unfinished church basement area. The upstairs, where the main sanctuary was to be, was not completed. Actually, there had never been enough money to even get it started.

Work had stopped on the building many years ago. About 4 or 5 rows high of concrete blocks were all that had been laid for the walls and they sadly showed where the work had stopped.

There was no roof. The unprotected flooring was exposed to the elements and left the basement completely at the mercies of what Mother Nature decided to do for the day.

When it rained or when the snow melted, most of the water seemed to just sit in puddles on the flat floor that served as a roof and also as a ceiling for the basement. The basement had leaks everywhere.

It was not advisable to even walk through the other parts of the basement in the rainy season. Only the small area where the services were held had even basic protection overhead from the elements.

The blueprints showed a beautiful church building on this location that would seat several hundred people. Up to now, only the pastor had that vision and no one had any money. All of the saints were poor, they were very poor.

The pastor’s wife was a saint. She sweetly did whatever she could to help make ends meet. There was never enough money coming in from the church to support them, so the burden of being a foster parent in her later years was added to her duties. She played the organ, worked in the garden out back, and kept the old two-story house looking pretty. Every preacher’s wife loved her. She was working and worrying herself into an early grave.

The pastor had grandiose ideas and plans for the church.  He would spread out stacks of blueprints to every visitor that came into his home. He was very likeable and personable, but his gifts of envisioning and dreaming never put a lot on bread and butter on the table. There was never enough money to go around.

He had come from a big church as a young saint. Before he pastored he had even been on the trustee staff in another big church in another state.

Somehow, nothing was coming together for him here. The city was big enough to support several churches. Others seemed to be able to grow here, but he somehow just struggled. In the 25 years or so of being here he couldn’t get passed the feeling he was just spinning his wheels.

The sad-looking building was nearly an eyesore to some in the neighborhood. The neighbors no longer spoke kindly to the pastor who lived next door. Behind his back they made comments. Petitions had been circulated. Inspectors had come.

The cold winters always ate up most of the church budget just for heating. There was minimal insulation at this point.

But the pastor and small flock were faithful.

No one had ever shouted in this church the whole time he had been there. Joy was not a word that was often heard in a testimony service. Victory was just a word in the dictionary. The services were not exciting. Visitors seldom ever came. If they did, more often than not, they rarely came back.

A lady in the church watched the foster children for the pastor’s wife while she played the organ. The pastor’s children were grown and had already moved away.

No new choruses ever made it into their worship here. The worn songbooks had always served wonderfully for 25 years and always would.

Tonight was a special service, however. A guest minister was going to preach. (There was never enough money to invite special speakers. This one had already said he wasn’t going to take an offering.) The people were very excited he had come.

It was raining very hard outside and the stairwell that led into the basement’s side door entrance was gathering a fair amount of water. Some of the water began to stream into the small auditorium. No one seemed overly bothered. This had happened before and was taken in stride.

The song service and testimonies had gone well. It was now time for the guest preacher to be introduced.

He stood and came to the small pulpit and made his opening remarks. As he talked he could hear the fast drip-drip-drip-drip of water into the 5-gallon bucket in the middle of the small aisle. It sat at the base of a metal post that ran from the ceiling to the floor.

Fastened to the post was a downspout that emptied the water into the 5-gallon bucket. The bucket filled up several times during every service when it rained. Replacement buckets were always handy.

The downspout was connected to a 10 ft. piece of gutter that hung down about a foot from the ceiling. Someone had used old coat hangers to wire it into place. It had been strategically located to catch to largest amount of drips in the sanctuary area, and it did.

Despite the resounding drip-drip-drip-drip-drip, the anointing came and the preacher preached great! The saints all gathered around the front for the altar call and ignored the dripping of the water into the bucket. God’s will was once again accomplished despite the distractions.

This Too Is Home Missions!

Chapter 35. The Wasted Miracle Church

June 12, 2010

The Miracle Church

The Texas Evangelist forgot to bring his Bible. He’d been at our church for two weeks already.  Every night, he’d have someone read his scripture for him. Some nights, he would have someone read a scripture of their choice and then he would preach a masterful message from that verse. His ability was unbelievable.

His singing was amazing. The people loved him. I sat on the front row and watched as he played my old Gibson J45 box guitar. (We all knew he was good because he had even ‘made’ a record.)

He also had an incredible ministry of faith and a likeable personality. The church had not seen someone used in the ‘gifts’ like him before. Every night their faith was built up a little higher. Some of the saints testified of healings and blessings that had come their way during the revival.

After singing a few songs, one night, The Evangelist felt led to pray for the sick. The line formed and it was not short. Almost everyone could think of something they’d like prayer for, so they stood in line.

After 20 minutes or more, he raised his hands to stop the music and the praying. He got the microphone and said, ’How many here have never seen a miracle?”

Six men raised their hands. He said, “I want you to come up here by me. You are going to see a miracle tonight.”

He then bent over and asked the man he was getting ready to pray for, what his name was. When he found out, he continued talking in the microphone.

“Brother Perkins told me that he is a welder by trade. He said that several years ago, he was involved in a work related accident. A hot rivet fell out of a beam into his ear and it burnt out and destroyed his eardrum. The Doctors say it’s irreparable.

“Now, if God does not heal Brother Perkins completely tonight and restore his eardrum and hearing, I will close my Bible and never preach another sermon.”

The saints and Pastor marveled at his faith and bold statements. Some cast furtive glances toward the Pastor in hopes of seeing his reaction. There was none.

“I want you six brethren to gather around Bro. Perkins.”

One at a time he had them place their hands on the man’s head, covering his ears. Finally all six pairs of hands covered Bro. Perkins’s ears.

The Evangelist prayed a prayer that didn’t seem to last 20 seconds.

With the hands still covering the ears, the Evangelist walked behind Bro. Perkins and stood about six feet away. He then turned his back to him and said in conversational tones, “Can you hear me now?”

“Yes,” was the reply.

He walked another 10 feet away and repeated the question and got the same answer.

The people rejoiced and faith was high.

The next day, Bro. Perkins went to see his Doctor. That night he came back to church with the Doctor’s report. The Doctor could find no evidence of an injury or scaring. He had a perfectly functioning eardrum.

There wasn’t any preaching that night as the saints rejoiced and many came forward to be prayed for. All of us were saddened when the Evangelist had to go to his next revival.

Less than a year later Brother Perkins had some problems that caused him to start missing church. After a month or so of hit and miss, he let it be known that he wasn’t going back to church anymore.

Almost immediately, he lost his hearing and never got it back. A hearing aid was of no help. He lived many more years and died in that condition.

He threw his miracle away!

This Too Is Home Missions!