We, as Americans and citizens of these United States of America, have been truly blessed by Almighty God to live in the greatest country in the world where we enjoy religious freedom and much more.
Many of you, my readers, were born in the United States, while others were born far across the seas and are now citizens. You have adopted our way of life, and have learned to speak English.
I think of my long time friend Daneel le Roux who was born in South Africa. He loves our country just as much as we do, but he also knows what a difference this country has meant in his life, and that of his beloved wife and family. George Fisher, one of our IPHC missionaries led him to the Lord and influenced him to come to the states to study at Holmes Bible College. Daneel made the best of his opportunities and was a successful businessman in Greenville, NC, as well as a loving and faithful husband and father to their daughter.
For those of you who have served in the military of the United States--Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines, and Guardsmen and women, I stand to salute you this day. Thank you for your service to our country.
In the providence of God He allowed me to serve in the Marine Corps in the enlisted ranks, then the Army as a Chaplain Candidate and Reserve Army Chaplain, as well as volunteer chaplain in the Civil Air Patrol when I was a pastor near Evergreen, Alabama, and later in the Air Force as a chaplain on active duty for eleven years, and some sixteen years in the Air Force Reserve Chaplaincy.
It was my great privilege to serve my church, the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, as one of our chaplains. It was while I was a Marine that I experienced what a Navy chaplain to the Marine Corps could do in bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the finest young men and women serving our country. It was a crucial time for me, and in that process God called me to be a military chaplain. If I could have, I would have served as a chaplain to the Marines, but that was limiting what God could do in my life and ministry.
I asked my Navy Chaplain James Hull, an ordained minister of the United Methodist Church, what the requirements were to be a chaplain. He told me I would have to have a undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university, and three years of seminary, as well as at least two years of full-time pastoral leadership experience. I never questioned all of the requirements, but planned how I would do that.
I had previously completed one year of college at Emmanuel College prior to enlisting in the Marine Corps. My pastor, O. N. Todd, Jr. was a graduate of Asbury College in Wilmore, KY, as well as John Moody Presley whom I greatly admired. He plays trumpet and is a gifted preacher and evangelist. So, I made application to attend Asbury College, and attended there for one year, 1956 to 1957. While at Asbury I sensed God calling me to go to Cuba to preach the Gospel as I was kneeling in prayer in Hughes Auditorium one Thursday, in a noon fast prayer meeting that I attended every week. God, also, called my roommate Carl Ricks from Indiana, a Marine, to go to Cuba as well. Soon, we learned that an evangelist in Wilmore, KY was forming a group of students and pastors to go to Pinar del Rio, Cuba on the western part of the island of Cuba for two weeks. I did nor have the money to go, but Pastor J. V. Owen asked me to preach a revival in his church in Birmingham and teach in a vacation Bible school. He took an offering and it was the exact amount of money that I needed. Carl had a car and he picked me up in Birmingham and drove us to Key West, Florida where we took a flight to Havana. Mr. Willie and his staff had a bus and picked us up at the airport and drove us to his lovely missionary compound. It was a glorious two weeks of ministry. I played my trombone and could draw a crowd of children, youth and adults. I used to be able to walk on my hands, stand on my head, and ride a bicycle backwards. That fascinated the Cuba children. Then, I preached with the assistance of an interpreter or translator.
When I got home, I made plans to go to the Camp Meeting and the annual conference at River Springs, AL. It was there that Pastor R. D. Hodges asked me to work with him during the summer at his church in Toulminville a neighborhood of Mobile, AL. I was blessed to stay in the home of Lee and Rachel McGraw McCrory, and their two children, Esther and Andy. I just learned this week that Lee McCrory had a massive heart attack last week and died. I would like to contact his daughter and family members to express my condolences. He was a great man of faith.
The church leadership asked me to stay on and go to college in Mobile. So, I decided not to go back to Asbury, and enrolled in Spring Hill College, a Jesuit Catholic college in the school of psychology. However, God began to impress upon my mind and heart that I needed to go to Holmes Bible College. That was the last place I wanted to go. I didn't like the rules and restrictions. I finally yielded to the call of God to go there and although I was late in getting started, Dr. Paul F. Beacham accepted my application and I went to Greenville, SC.
I was greatly impressed with the teaching of the Bible by Dr. Paul F. Beacham and Mr. Jesse Daniels who taught the Old /Testament. I loved the worship services at Holmes Memorial Church, but I was unhappy and started to leave. However, I spent three days in prayer and fasting and God spoke to me that He had brought me there and I would learn far more at Holmes Bible College than any other college. So, I stayed on and finished the first year. I talked with Padgett Robinson, Louis Cowart, and Dallas Tarkenton, and told them I wanted to go to Furman University and get a degree in psychology and go to Asbury Theological Seminary to complete the educational requirements for the military chaplaincy. Each one of these outstanding preachers who really knew Dr. Beacham encouraged me to talk with him. I finally got the courage to make a big claim for myself. I asked his permission to continue living in the men's dormitory and eat in the dining hall, finish the three-year Bible training and commute to Furman University. To my utter surprise, I found that God had already prepared Dr. Paul F. Beacham's heart. He agreed with my request if I would teach a class in English literature in the high school and teach a course in Speech in the college, and help him in the church. That worked out fine.
In the meantime, I was asked to join three other students, Roland Harrell, Eddie Wood and Willard Wagner in singing the bass in their quartet. It was one weekend we went to Appomattox, VA for a revival. Daneel le Rous was filling in at the church as the pastor as he taught school during the week. It was there on Saturday evening in a snow storm that Melvin and Callie Moore and their daughter, Betty brought Melvine Stewart, their next door neighbor, to the revival. When I stood to play a trombone solo, I saw her, an instantly fell in love with her and determined that night that I would endeavor to marry Melvine. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Most of all, she was a Spirit-filled Christian and a member of the Draper Pentecostal Holiness Church in Draper, NC. which today is called Eden.
Had I not obeyed God I might not have ever met the love of my life who helped me go through seminary to prepare for the military chaplaincy.
God still calls men and women to be military chaplains and He will provide every thing you need.
If God is calling you to be a military chaplain, may I recommend that you contact Retired Army Chaplain (Colonel) Jerry L. Jones about the opportunities that are available in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. You may write Jerry at: JJones@iphc.org. He will be delighted to help you.
One final word and this has to do with Veterans Day: Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who gave their lives and those who perished while in service.
I wish all of you who have served in the Armed Services of our country a blessed Veterans Day today, November 11, 2015.