I was born in Philadelphia on August 17th, 1951. I went to Catholic school at Holy Name Church and school for grades 1-8. Then I went to Veterans Memorial Junior High School for 9th grade and grades 10-12 at Riverside High School in Riverside, New Jersey from which I graduated in 1969. I went into the Navy while still 17 years old in 1969 on July 10th and left the service with an honorable discharge on July 10th, 1973. I went to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville from 1973 to 1977 and graduated with a B.A. in English and Philosophy in 1977. Then we moved to Van Buren, Arkansas and I started work in 1973 at Guard Tronic, a burglar and fire alarm company in Fort Smith, Arkansas until 1997. After leaving Guard Tronic I began working at D-Best computer center (a local small computer store) as a PC Technician in 1997 and I am still working there now. I started at D-Best October 1997.
As stated before I was a Catholic. My parents sent me to mass although they did not go themselves. My parents divorced when I was 12 or 13, can't remember. Just me and my mom was my family after that, and my mom worked and went to bingo so I stayed at home by myself until I went into the Navy.
Whenever someone talked to me about Jesus and being saved I told them "I'm a Catholic. Leave me alone." But the Christians in the Navy I knew kept on me to get me saved. When I went home on leave August 1972 I went to the pastor's office of the Oak Grove Baptist Church and the pastor Wayne Davis read me the plan of salvation from a white card - like a criminal being read his rights. I said to myself, "Might as well have all the bases covered", so I knelt down in his office and asked Jesus to be my Saviour. I felt a tingling sensation in my head when I was saved and the pathway to heaven was open above my head. I don't know how to describe it otherwise, except one time when I changed my major in college for 2 weeks the pathway was closed. I know it was closed. When I prayed my prayers hit a wall 2 inches above my head. When I realized what was happening and I changed my major back the wall was taken down and has not appeared since.
Also, in that last year of the Navy the Lord started dealing with me about preaching. I attended the Zion Baptist Church with pastor Owen Herndon. Zion, Illinois was a city with every denomination represented so I got into my car on Sunday morning and asked the Holy Spirit to show me where He wanted me to go. I parked across from a church, sat there and decided to go someone else. I pulled into the parking lot of the First Baptist Church and sat on the back pew. The preacher was preaching directly at me, it was like there was no one else there in the church. As soon as the service was over I went home to Waukegan and told my wife, Kathy, I found where the Lord wanted us to go to church. I stayed at the First Baptist Church in Zion until I left the Navy and moved to Fayetteville to go to the University of Arkansas. I lived on campus in married apartments until my wife Kathy was discharged 6 months later and she joined me there.
While in Fayetteville I attended the First Baptist Church for awhile, then went to the Immanual Baptist Church. The Pastor of 1st Church was Page Patterson and the pastor of Immanual was Brother Terrel Gordon. I began preaching the month I was discharged from the Navy at the Oak Grove Baptist Church where I was saved a year after. Then I preached several times at the Immanual Baptist Church and was licensed to preach there. In 1979 I was ordained as a Southern Baptist Minister at the Kibler Baptist Church while working at Guard Tronic. I pastored the Batson Baptist Church for 4 years, then several years later I pastored the Rudy Baptist Church for nearly 4 more years. I have been a Sunday School director and Sunday School Teacher as well as Vacation Bible School director in different Southern Baptist churches in our area.
At the present time I do not reguarly attend church. My wife is disabled and I have been staying home with her when I am not working. In case she needs me.
I am reading "The Hole in our Gospel." by Richard Stearns who is the US President of World Vision. About half way through today.
After the first few chapters which also contain Mr. Stearns' testimony about how a man who had everything in this life gave it up to follow the call of God to become US President and CEO of World Vision. He went from a luxurious office at Lenox to the squalor of the poorest places on earth because thats where the Lord wanted him to go!
The first few chapters are about Discipleship, and reading them lights fire in the soul to follow Christ without reservation and to do whatever God wants us to do without question. I found these chapters to be one of the most striking and convicting pieces on Discipleship that I have read in a long time. After the first few chapters Mr. Stearns goes on to show by statistics and undeniable facts the present state of the world in regards to Hunger and Disease. The book asks and answers the question "What would God have me do?" The answer is God has given us dominion over the earth and we are to be obedient to Jesus when He said "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul and all you mind, and all your strength and to LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF" This is the Law and all the Prophets. These are the commands of Jesus to Israel and to every Christian.
Mr. Stearns also answers the question - Why am I here? The answer I received was in the Baltimore Catecism " To Know, Love and Serve God in the world" That is the reason we are all here and to Glorify God.
Mr. Stearns makes it clear that Poverty, Hunger and Disease are our problems and we must provide the resources to alleviate them in this world right now. He makes it clear that Hunger is a complicated problem. Many times supplies are sent, but diverted by criminals and the people that need them do not get them (Africa for example).
He speaks of meetings with former president Jimmy Carter and past president Bill Clinton as well as Bono of the Rock group U2 who has taken the plight of those in need around the world to heart, even though he does not profess to being a Christian!
As I read "The Hole in our Gospel" I got an inside look into why Jimmy Carter went to the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians. These are people living in poverty and hunger. Mr. Carter is following the commands of Jesus to Love your neighbor as yourself. We live in America, the richest country in the world. We like like KINGS and QUEENS compared to the rest of the world's population
The issues of Food - we have grocery stores, they do not.
Water - we have water readily available, they do NOT but must travel great distances in some cases just to get some water for drinking and washing and other human necessities. Reading about these simple luxuries that we take for granted are a real eye opener, and very convicting to the soul. We hear about refugees, nations torn apart by war and famine and drought and earhquakes and other acts of nature and man placing humanity in the worst possible conditions. These are our neighbors whether they live down the street or across the world.
I admit I got this book for free to blog about it, but I wanted to read it anyway and would have bought it. Every Christian as well as non-Christian should read this book and take its message to heart.
I plan on finish my reading of "The Hole in our Gospel" tomorrow, but the message this book gives will undoubtedly stay with me long after the book is closed. Children are dying. Children are orphaned by AIDS and earthquakes and political uprisings. How can I continue to turn a deaf ear when the cries of these precious souls can be heard on the wind? This book will remove you from your comfort zone and cause you to stare into the eyes of starving, diseased, orphaned, dying men and women and children. If you read one book this year, please make it "The Hole in our Gospel" by Richard Stearns published by Thomas Nelson Publishing.