The first executive editor that the leadership hired was a devout Christian lady by the name of Grace Perkins Oursler. She joined the staff in 1947. She had what I call "moral courage" to insist that the articles must have spiritual content with first-person stories of people from all walks of life and how God brought them through their crises.
Guideposts was started by a pastor--Norman Vincent Peale and a businessman, Raymond Thornburg. This new magazine was inspirational and nondenominational. It did not admonish or preach or proselytize. It had stories about ordinary people from all walks of life. Each story was a personal narrative about a spiritual experience with practical examples of faith.
In the March 1995 of Guideposts is a story Melvine read to me, as well as to her Tuesday morning Ladies Bible study and prayer meeting at Christian Life Worship Center in Athens, GA. There are not only ladies from our church who attend, but ladies from other churches--Baptist, Charismatic, Christian, and Church of God.
Now, let me paraphrase the story from the article that Grace Perkins Oursler wrote.
On the way home from school a thirteen-year-old boy fell when running through a briar patch. He skinned his knee. It was a small scratch that did not tear his trouser leg. By bedtime his knee was swollen and was beginning to ache. He didn't think it was much. You see he was the son of a Kansas frontiersman, formerly from Denison, Texas, north of Dallas. He ignored the pain, knelt by his bed and said his prayers. Then, he climbed into bed in a room where he and his five brothers slept.
By morning, his ankle was swelling, but he refused to tell anyone. He got up at six o'clock the next morning to do his assigned chores before going to school. He was required to complete his chores as required or he would be sent back to do them all over again. The discipline in his home was fair but stern.
In a couple of days his leg ached so badly that he had to drag himself into the barn. That happened to be Sunday. He requested permission to stay at home while his family drove into town to attend Sunday school and worship services. He quickly finished his homework, and sat in the parlor rocker and examined three family Bibles: one in German where the names of all births and deaths were recorded, another in Greek which his father greatly prized, and at last the King James Version shared by his mother and all of the sons.
He knew that he was responsible to lead in family devotions one night that week. He could select his own Scripture passages from the Old and New Testaments. He would read them aloud and get a discussion going about the Scriptures he had read. The pain became so severe that he put aside the Bible and went to sleep until his brothers returned from Sunday school.
His parents did not come home with the boys because Sunday was "parents' day off." So, it was the responsibility of the boys to clean the house and cook the big meal of the week while their father and mother stayed in the village for the church service.
By the time dinner was ready, the boy climbed back into bed. His left foot was turning black; his socks and shoes had to be cut off the swollen foot. Why on earth had he not told somebody? They had to rush to find the doctor and bring him to their country home.
His mother tenderly bathed his leg, applied poultices and wiped his sweating forehead with a moist and cool wash cloth. She was confronted with that angry wound of her son, but she remained calm and serene. In crises there was never chatter, only quiet action. This Mon had nursed her boys through accidents and ailments from toothaches to scarlet fever, one son she lost, but that only made her calmer, and determined to fight for others.
They finally called the doctor. Old Dr. Conkin came an examined this boy's leg and foot. He pursed his lips in all seriousness and solemn concern.
Dr. Conkin said, "It's not likely we can save it!"
This thirteen-year-old boy sat up in bed. "What does that mean?" he asked.
"It means," explained the doctor as kindly as he knew how, "if things get any worse we'll have to amputate."
The boy with all the moral courage he had, boldly exclaimed, "Not me! I won't have it. I had rather die."
Dr. Conklin swiftly walked out of the room, with a nod for the mother to follow him. As he explained to his parents, that in all probability he would have to amputate their son's leg and foot.
Immediately, they heard the voice of their stricken son calling for his brother.
"Ed! Ed! Come here!"
Ed was in the front yard and heard his sick brother call for help with his high pitched voice. The sick lad appealed to Ed, "No matter what happens and even if I go out of my head . . . don't your ever let them cut off my leg. Promise me, Ed--promise . . ."
Ed came out of the bedroom and strode down into the kitchen. Not a word had been spoken until Ed had returned.
"What's your brother asking for?" his mother asked.
"A fork! To bite on, to keep from screaming."
Edward took the fork to his brother, and immediately came out of the room and stood guard on his brother's room. Ed looked sternly into Dr. Conkln's eyes and boldly stated, "Nobody is going to saw of my brother's leg."
"But, Ed it may mean death for your brother," explained Dr. Conklin.
"Maybe so, Doc, But I have given my brother my word."
This stance of exceptional moral courage was an example of loyalty and trust. Had not Ed stood his ground, his father and mother might have yielded. The adamant attitude of the sick boy, and his brother Ed was almost incredible. Defiance of parental authority was unknown in this family. But there was Ed bravely standing guard no matter what.
"Guess we'll just see how he looks by tonight, eh, Doc?" the mother said softly.
Day and night Ed maintained a vigilant watch, not even leaving to eat. He slept across the threshold. He only allowed his mother in the room.
The fever mounted, and the boy was now babbling in a sweat of torment. This older brother watched the increasing blood poison climb up his leg above the knee as the doctor had predicted. But Ed was unmovable in his resolve to keep his word and stood firm in his resolve.
The parents were unable to make up their minds. Edgar's attitude was decisive.
The doctor in helpless outrage, uttered the unthinkable word "murder" and stormed out the house with a verdict that "nothing could less than a miracle could save the boy now!"
The mother and father, and the brothers shared the same thought as they looked at each other in despair.
However, the dying boy's grandfather had been a vigorous and inspiring minister, farmer-leader of a religious community known as the River Brethren Colony in Pennsylvania. He had believed, and with good reason, in faith healings.
Without a word the three, father and mother, and Ed went to their knees. They were desperate enough--to turn to God for help.
They prayed, taking turns, in leading one another in supplication. During the night, outside the room the four other brothers from time to time would kneel and join in the prayers.
At the breaking of day the next morning, the faithful doctor stopped by to check on the boy. To his amazement his experienced eyes saw a sign of hope. Dr. Conklin closed his eyes and made a rusty prayer of thanksgiving to Almighty God.
God was performing a miracle in answer to believing faith and trust in what God could and would do. This sick boy dropped off into normal sleep as one member after another kept the vigil.
It was nightfall and the lamps were lighted when this sick boy opened his eyes. The swelling was way down and the discoloration had almost vanished. And in three days, although pale and weak, but with eyes clear and a voice that was strong, he was able to crawl out of bed and stand on his own.
And Dwight D. Eisenhower was ready to face a life that would be filled with great adventures and achievements.
[Editor's comment: It took a lot of mental power and nibble, but strong phalanges--names for four fingers on each hand, plus a thumb per hand. Although I am a fast typist, more than 100 words per minute, actually timed by Miss Mattie Brown a typing teacher at Emmanuel College when I was a student. It takes a lot of brain power to take a story and put it in my own words. That is a gift from God, and I thank Him.
I have shared this story with you because it deeply touched me. You see I believe in divine healing. God has healed me many times. One of the most notable is that He healed me of stuttering. He used a speech teacher at Furman University to diagnose may problem and teach me the phonetic alphabet and gave me exercises to say over and over again until I mastered them. My Christian parents instilled me that I should never give up and trust God to help me.
Secondly, I pray that God will use this story of the healing of Dwight D. Eisenhower to inspire you to trust God for your healing, whatever that might be.
Thirdly, I have two connections with Dwight D. Eisenhower. Both my father and Dwight were born in Denison, TX. My dad was born December 12, 1884. Six years later, Dwight was born in that town. The Eisenhowers and the Morgans were ranchers. The Eisenhowers moved to Kansas, and the Morgans moved to Oklahoma.
When I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1953, I joined to be a member of the finest fighting force in the world. I had thought I would fight and may even be killed. As a young man I was willing to lose my life in defense of my country to defend South Korea from Communist North Korea.
However, God had it otherwise, I was assigned right out of Boot Camp at Parris Island, South Carolina to be stationed for three years at Quantico, Virginia, to play trombone in the Quantico Marine Band.
Guess who was the President of the United States? He was none other than Dwight D. Eisenhower. As you know he was a famous Army general. Our band played for the President on many occasions. I have had to wait patiently many times for the President to show up for an event. Our motto was "Hurry Up and Wait." Patience is a virtue that I have not mastered.
What an honor! What a great time to be alive in the 50s and be a Marine. God was with me then, and He is still with me today. I am on His side. I still believe, "Once a Marine, always a Marine." Although we sing it, I don't believe that the streets of heaven are guarded by United States Marines. In heaven we will not need to fear, all enemies, the devil himself and death, will be defeated. In fact, Jesus defeated death.
I like what the Apostle Paul wrote to youth Timothy: "This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, Who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel" (2 Timothy 1:9-11, NIV).
If you have benefitted by this story why not take the time to write me a brief note? My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. I promise to respond and write you immediately.