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MY FAITH

I recall sitting on the front row in the theater seats, at our small country Church; the seats had been purchased from a theater that had closed. Actually, it was in the suburbs, but it was still a country church. I was fascinated with the messages delivered by Z.B. Duncan, the pastor.
 
  • “I know that my redeemer liveth and that he shall stand in the later day upon the earth…whom I shall see for myself…mine eyes shall behold and not another’s”.
Those words from Job 19:25 would resonate in my mind and still do.  I recall the first sermonette I ever gave. I still have the notes I used. It was on I Corinthians 13:13, “Now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." A storm came through during the service and knocked the lights out. We had to finish the service by candlelight, or lamplight, I don’t remember which. It could have been both.  Actually it helped because in the semi darkness we were not nearly as nervous.

   I studied the Bible, using a King James Version which had only a simple concordance in the back. It didn’t even have a “center reference”. We didn’t have television to watch in those days. I recall sitting at the table in my grandparents home studying the Bible. It was later in the evening; everyone else had gone to bed. Actually, it wasn’t really that late, remembering the comment by the men on the road to Emmaus, “Did not our hearts burn within us?” Luke 24:32. My heart burned as I read and studied, trying to understand what I was reading. My grandfather came in where I was studying one night and encouraged me to bed. “Don’t you think you ought to go to bed”, he said. I didn’t take that as a question.

   Someone gave me a “Subject Concordance” tract which I treasured. I came to know, believe, and to love the truths, which I felt were so plainly laid out in the Bible. The Sunday School Department of the church presented me with a Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible. I was able to find any scripture in the Bible using that concordance. It’s a rather large book and it’s still in my library. I still use it periodically. 

   I was encouraged to study and to grow in faith by Pastor Duncan and others in the church. Sunday morning’s youth classe's studies were not as in-depth as I wanted them to be so I asked the Adult Men’s Bible Class if I could attend their Adult Men’s Class. A few were reluctant, but allowed me to learn and grow in faith under their tutelage. I was given opportunities to speak and to lead Bible studies.

   In a few years I decided preaching was something I would like to do. One of the men of the church would take a group of the youth to different cities in North Carolina to hand out tracts. It was not uncommon for us to hand out a thousand pieces of literature in one day. Sometimes these tracts would create quite a stir.

   My Church became dissatisfied with the teachings promoted by the denomination where we were members. We decided, the church itself voted, to come out of the denomination and to stop giving it our support. A small group of those attending, together with a large group of former attendees decided they did not want the church to come out of the conference, no matter what the church had voted to do.

   Rather than continue in such disunity, our small group decided that those who wanted to remain and support the denomination would continue in the current location and situation, and the other group, of which I was a member, would take the small building fund and move forward with their plans to leave the conference and to stand firm on their beliefs and teachings.
       
   This group of about forty people united under the leadership of Pastor Z.B. Duncan: formed a church; adopted a constitution; and chose the name Church of the Resurrection Hope. Later a church building was erected. We built the basement first and worshiped there for a while before we finished the edifice. We decided to become associated with the Church of God General Conference, Oregon, Illinois. We stood with them on the basics of our doctrine. I was given many opportunities to grow and learn as I attended The Resurrection Hope Church.
       
   We had a large and very active youth group. When I was sixteen the youth class of the church supported a 15 minute local radio program, “The Berean Youth Sunday School of the Air” on Sunday mornings. Three of the young men in the church took turns conducting the program; I was one of them. I gained a lot of experience in this endeavor.


 
   My path to ministry was filled with long discussions with my pastor, mentor, and friend, Z.B. Duncan, I called him Brother ZB. Actually, he was like a father to me. Often we would talk for hours. He took me with him to visit in hospitals, funeral homes, and to make other calls. I would prepare outlines of lessons he would teach when he visited state and national conference meetings. One year in the sixties he allowed me to join him in attending the annual Minister’s Conference in Oregon, Illinois. It was the middle of winter, the coldest weather I had ever experienced. The ministers were kind enough to allow me to attend some of their sessions. It was so wonderful to be among a group of pastors who had dedicated their lives to ministry. That’s what I wanted to do.

MY FAMILY

In 1960 I married a wonderful young woman from North Carolina. Her father was a preacher too. I worked in food preparation, restaurants and bakeries. My first job paid fifty cents an hour. Later the two of us went to work in textiles. In my early twenties we purchased a small, modest home and settled in. It was a small by today’s standards but we were very happy to have our own home.

   Seven years of our marriage passed and we had no children. We wanted children; we settled on three. Friends kept telling us that children would eventually come; we just had to be patient. After many tears and a lot of prayer, we applied for adoption with the North Carolina Department of Social Services. Nothing seemed to be happening then either; we grew impatient.

   My wife’s brother found out about a lady who was due to have a baby. She was going to give her baby to the Social Services for adoption when it was born. We later learned that we could have the little baby boy if we wanted him; did we ever! He was only five days old. He was such a precious little boy. He was brought home to live with us. He was truly a bundle of joy for our family. He still is.

   After we moved into our first home it was my custom when weather permitted to  climb my ladder to the porch roof at the back of the house, look up into the heavens and “talk with God”. I actually felt like I was really talking to God. I wasn’t just saying a prayer, I was talking to God. One particular night the stars were out and the weather was cooperative so I made my way to the porch roof.

   It was so quiet. The stars shined brightly. Soon after I had started praying, I heard what sounded like the hammer on a firearm being cocked to shoot, it was so quiet I could make that out. It was my neighbor. He had a young daughter and son whose friends had been harassing them, I understood later. “Who___ ___ are you and what ___ ____are you doing there?” he said. I quickly yelled to him my name and that I lived there. “I’m up here praying”, I also told him. I doubt he understood what that was all about and perhaps you don’t either, but that’s what I did. That was something else I learned from Brother ZB. Why would a man climb up on his roof and look up into the heavens and pray? After that I thought about that encounter every time I climbed the ladder to the roof of my porch to pray.

MY MINISTRY

My local church ordained me into ministry in the local area. I received a Certificate of Ordination from our regional conference dated August 14, 1966; at the age of 21. I soon realized this would be my life’s vocation. September 1, 1968 I requested and received a Certificate of License from our General Conference and was ordained August 17, 1973. My wife and I pastored The Restitution Church in Southern Illinois from the fall of 1969 to the spring of 1975. Following that ministry we accepted the pastorate of Hope Second Advent Christian Church in North Carolina and remained there for ten years. We have been with Grace Fellowship Church of God here in Virginia since the fall of 1985. Thirty years (this year 2015) of service to the wonderful people of Grace Fellowship. I retired November 30, 2016 and we moved to North Myrtle Beach SC.

   During the years since 1985, for more than fifteen of those years, we traveled about an hour east to help Fair Oaks Community Church, (one Sunday per month) one of our sister churches in Virginia. They have been carrying on without a pastor. We provided a message and communion on the first Sunday of the month at three in the afternoon.

   I have had the support and encouragement of my wife for 56 years. When you meet her you will understand me. We truly are one. God has been good to us. My wife is retired also. I continue to study as I have for over half a century. Putting this web site together has been more of a challenge than I ever expected but it is proving to help me at this point in my life and ministry to grow in the knowledge of my Lord.